Within the intense, messy battle over “healthful” sugar tech

In an electronic mail to Rogers that December—obtained, like most of the other people in this tale, from court docket filings—Zhang wrote: “Some projects that you assumed were owned by CFB are not owned by CFB.” He discussed that both equally the inositol and the sugar phosphate technologies basically originated in his TIB lab and had been funded by a Chinese company in advance of CFB started work on them. This would indicate, he wrote, that CFB could not assert comprehensive ownership of either, but only develop on the Chinese function.

Prior to that e-mail, Rogers experienced proposed splitting CFB, leaving Zhang his sci-fi bio-battery and sugar-to-hydrogen principles, whilst Rogers would commercialize the nearer-time period unusual sugars. Zhang dismissed the thought, and to no one’s surprise, he did not renew Rogers’s CEO contract, afterwards citing his “failure to raise a single expense dollar.” But Rogers, who retained a little stake in the enterprise as component of his compensation, was not completely ready to wander absent. At the close of December 2015, he sent CFB an electronic mail referencing a “glaring” contradiction involving statements the firm had created in NSF grant applications while he was interim CEO and statements made by Zhang. 

As an illustration, Rogers pointed out that although Zhang experienced instructed him the legal rights to the manufacturing system for sugar phosphates have been Chinese, just one application stated that CFB owned the rights and would commercialize the procedure in the US. “If there is a difficulty,” Rogers warned, “I are unable to search the other way. Of study course, any whiff of grant fraud will result in likely licensees and possible traders to flee.”

In the e-mail, Rogers reiterated his recommendation that CFB transfer the rights for tagatose and another scarce sugar called arabinose, as effectively as the rights for the sugar phosphates approach, to a new startup he was intending to form. But he preferred to move fast, preferably inside a week. “If you will need a lot more time, be sure to enable me know, but time is running short in various methods,” he wrote. 


Zhang all over again refused to split the firm, and on January 6, 2016, time ran out. Rogers included Bonumose in the condition of Virginia and, nine times later, despatched an e mail to the NSF’s Business of Inspector Typical entitled “Report of probable NSF grant fraud.”

It quoted from some seemingly damning email messages among Zhang and Rogers. In just one, despatched in the summer time of 2015, Zhang writes: “About sugar phosphate venture, the experiments have been carried out by one of my collaborators and my satellite lab in China. The technological innovation transfer will come about in China only. If this job is funded by [the NSF], most of cash will be used to fund the other challenge in CFB.” That meant the promising tagatose exploration, which had not yet obtained any formal NSF funding.

A further, concerning a second NSF inositol proposal, took a similar tack: “Nearly all experiments … have been completed. Chun You [CFB’s chief scientist] and I have filed a Chinese patent on behalf of ourselves, no relation to CFB … If it is funded, most of [the NSF money] will be employed for CFB to assist the other assignments.”