1. Business

Air purifier maker Molekule moves its manufacturing facility to greater Tampa Bay area

Air filtration company Molekule is opening a manufacturing facility in the Tampa Bay area. Courtesy of Molekule.
Published May 22

Air purification company Molekule has further strengthened its ties to the Tampa Bay area.

The company, which sprang from technology created by a University of South Florida professor, has consolidated its manufacturing at a facility in Lakeland. Up until now, the company had used contractors around the country to make its air purifiers.

At its core, Molekule is about science and innovation, so it made sense to move the manufacturing facility closer to the company's research and development arm, located at USF's Tampa campus, said co-founder and chief operating officer Jaya Rao. The Polk County facility will soon employ dozens of workers, she said.

"When we look at our five-year trajectory, we see that number going up quite a bit," said Rao, who did not want to get into specific job or revenue projections for the privately held company.

Molekule boasts that its filters destroy pollutants at microscopic levels, something traditional filters can't do. Rao's father, USF engineering professor Yogi Goswami, invented the purifier, which uses a process called photo electrochemical oxidation. An LED light inside the purifier simulates sunlight to create a chemical reaction in a replaceable filter that breaks down harmful molecules like allergens and chemicals. The Molekule can trap pollutants up to 1,000 times smaller than what a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) catches, according to the company.

The purifier, a 2-foot-tall aluminum cylinder, retails for $799 on Molekule's website.

Rao said business has been better than expected and confirmed that the company has had at least $1 million in sales every month since the launch of the flagship air purifier in 2016. The purifier sold out seven times last year, another reason for consolidating manufacturing in once place, she said.

"We felt like we were being optimistic in our projections," she said. "Turns out it was even more than we expected."

Molekule secured $25 million in funding last fall, led by the Foundry Group, which invests in technology startups. Rao said the company is not currently fundraising, though that could change as it develops new products or finds more ways to commercialize its technology.

The company's headquarters will remain in San Francisco.

"A lot of our early growth was out of the San Francisco bay area," she said. "But now we will be starting to invest a lot more back in the Tampa Bay area."

Sean Malott, the president and chief executive officer of the Central Florida Development Council, said the deal involved $50,000 in incentives through the state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program. The company will receive the tax break only after creating 10 high-paying jobs. Malott thought Molekule would quickly blow past that number.

"The market is ripe for what they are selling," Malott said. "This is an exciting project, one that's all about bringing more high-tech talent, more advanced manufacturing talent, to the Tampa Bay region."

Contact Graham Brink at Follow @GrahamBrink.


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