Inside the fierce, messy war on “sane” sugar technology

In an email to Rogers in December of that year – like most of the others in this story, from court filings – Zhang wrote: “Some projects that you would think owned by CFB are not part of the business. owned by the CFB”. He explains that both the inositol and sugar phosphate technology actually originated in his TIB lab and was funded by a Chinese agency before CFB started researching them. This means that the CFB cannot claim full ownership, he writes, but only builds on Chinese work.

Prior to that email, Rogers had suggested splitting the CFB, leaving Zhang with the concepts of a sci-fi biobattery and sugar to hydrogen, while Rogers would commercialize the near-rare sugars. Zhang dismissed the idea, and to no one’s surprise, he did not renew the contract with the CEO of Rogers, later citing “no co-investment”. But Rogers, who kept a small portion of the company’s shares as part of his compensation, was not yet ready to leave. In late December 2015, he sent CFB an email referring to the “apparent” inconsistency between the statements the company made in NSF grant applications when he was CEO. provisional and statements by Zhang.

For example, Rogers points out that while Zhang told him the rights to the phosphate-manufacturing process were in China, one application said CFB owned the rights and would commercialize the process in the US. . “If there’s a problem,” warned Rogers, “I can’t look the other way. Of course, any fraud in licensing will put licensees and potential investors on the run.”

In the email, Rogers reiterated his proposal that the CFB would transfer the rights to tagatose and another rare sugar called arabinose, as well as the rights to the sugar phosphate process, to a new startup to which he’s intends to establish. But he wants to move fast, ideally within a week. “If you need more time, please let me know, but time is shortening in some ways,” he wrote.

sugar blocks divided into piles


Zhang once again refused to split the company, and on January 6, 2016, time ran out. Rogers founded Bonumose in Virginia and, nine days later, emailed the NSF’s Office of the Inspector General with the subject line “NSF Funding Fraud Report.”

It quotes from several seemingly damn emails between Zhang and Rogers. In a letter sent in the summer of 2015, Zhang wrote: “Regarding the phosphate project, experiments were carried out by one of my collaborators and my satellite lab in China. . The technology transfer will only take place in China. If this project is sponsored by [the NSF], most of the money will be used to fund another project in the CFB. “That means that tagatose research is promising, which has yet to receive any formal NSF funding.

Another person, regarding NSF’s second inositol proposal, made a similar statement: “Nearly all the experiments…completed. Chun you [CFB’s chief scientist] and I filed a Chinese patent on our behalf, unrelated to the CFB… If it’s funded, most of it. [the NSF money] will be used for CFB to support other projects. ”

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