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Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images.

Solugen, a Houston-based chemicals startup backed by top Silicon Valley investors, plans to open a new R&D facility outside of Texas because many of the state's social policies — including its new abortion ban — are making it difficult to recruit employees.

By the numbers: Solugen currently has about 115 employees, most of whom work out of its Houston headquarters. It plans to more than double its R&D capability over the next two years, representing around 100 jobs, with most of those expected to be located in a new facility that it will locate in either California or Massachusetts.

  • The company has raised over $80 million in venture capital from firms like Founders Fund, Fifty Years, Lowercarbon Capital, Refactor Capital and Unicorn Venture Partners.

What they're saying: "We want to make sure we're hiring the top enzymologists and chemical engineers," says Solugen CEO Gaurab Chakrabarti, who grew up in Houston.

  • "We've come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don't feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it's become a no brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere."

Big picture: Few Texas CEOs have commented publicly on the state's new abortion law, which Gov. Greg Abbott defended by claiming that a lot of business leaders "like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking."

  • Solugen chief technology officer Sean Hunt says: "I think you're not seeing many people speak out because they're afraid of taking a political stance, but this really isn't about politics. It's about bad legislation if Texas wants to be a business friendly state."

Go deeper: DOJ vows to "protect" abortion seekers, providers in Texas

Go deeper

Sep 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Supreme Court to hear Mississippi abortion case in December

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Dec. 1 will hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Why it matters: The Mississippi attorney general is asking the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that set a precedent for the constitutional right to abortion.

DOJ urges Supreme Court not to overturn Roe v. Wade

Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Sept. 9 news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice sought permission Monday to present oral arguments when the Supreme Court hears a case challenging Mississippi's strict abortion law, as it called on justices to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: The two briefs, filed by acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, mark the latest attempt by President Biden's DOJ to "protect the legal right to an abortion," per the New York Times, which first reported on the court filings.

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