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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

What SCOTUS' docket means for Arkansas

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

A law enacted in 2019 would make abortions illegal in Arkansas if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case involving a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Advocates see "opportunity" in abortion fight to galvanize Democratic voters

Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson speaks during an abortion rights rally in October. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March

Abortion rights advocates believe the Supreme Court fight over Mississippi's strict abortion bill has the potential to turn the political script: galvanize Democratic voters, instead of its historic ability to drive turnout among Republicans.

What they're saying: "The opportunity is that people are enraged," Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told Axios in an interview. "What we saw in Texas, and what people will walk away from [the Mississippi oral arguments with], is a level of rage that we could be living in a world six months from now — where our children have fewer rights than we have right now."

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Dec 2, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

How SCOTUS' ruling on Mississippi abortion case would impact Iowa

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Abortion will remain legal in Iowa if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, but access to nearby abortion clinics may become more difficult for western Iowans.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case involving a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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