Naturbeads, a company set up by University of Bath researchers that aims to replace plastic microbeads with sustainable alternatives, is set to scale up its work after receiving £1.3M (€1.5M) in a recent funding round.
The investment from Italian Venture Capital fund Progress Tech Transfer, Eos Advisory and Proionic GmbH will allow Naturbeads to grow its work from pilot to demo plant scale and to expand the range of applications of its technology.
Naturbeads has developed a range of innovative and renewable biodegradable cellulose-based products that can be used in cosmetics, paints, coatings, additives for the oil and gas industry packaging and composites.
Following research carried out at Bath’s Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT), the company was founded by Professor Davide Mattia from CSCT and the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, the late Prof Janet Scott, formerly of CSCT and the Dept of Chemistry, and CEO Dr Giovanna Laudisio, an alumna of Bath’s School of Management.
Prof Davide Mattia said: “We are delighted to have received this investment, which will allow us to accelerate our work in providing a sustainable alternative to persistent microplastic beads. An estimated 30,000 tonnes end up in the world’s oceans each year, showing the clear need for technologies such as ours to be adopted quickly.”
Giovanna Laudisio added: “Raising funds for a hard tech start-up like Naturbeads is challenging but we are pleased that with this investment we are bringing on board two institutional investors like EOS and Progress Tech Transfer and a company like Proionic. I am confident that with their support we will be able to accelerate the commercialization of our technology and prevent hundreds of thousands of tons of microplastics from reaching the environment”.
Through a new collaboration with its subsidiary Naturbeads Italia and Professor Antonio Proto at the University of Salerno, the firm will explore the application of its technology in the tyre industry to reduce its contribution to microplastic pollution.
Alberto Calvo, partner of Progress Tech Transfer®, said: “We immediately understood the enormous potential of the technology developed by Naturbeads, which fits perfectly into our mission as early-stage, sustainability-driven investors. The company offers exciting prospects on global markets in a large number of industrial sectors which are desperately seeking for pragmatic solutions addressing the elimination of micro-plastics from their products, and Naturbeads is already positioned as a global technology leader in this arena.”
Andrew McNeill, Managing Partner of Eos Advisory, said: “Microbead plastic water pollution is a significant and hidden environment hazard that the world is only just starting to wake up to. As countries and industries restrict and ban their use, the market for biodegradable replacements is vast.
"What has really impressed Eos about Naturbeads is the people involved, the protections in place and the potential of this technology. This investment will support the scaling of Naturbeads production and route to market.”
Bernhard Ludwig, Executive Director of Proionic, said: “We are happy not only to supply the necessary solvent for the process but to further contribute to the development of what we consider a game-changing technology.”
Naturbeads has previously been funded by the University of Bath Impact Acceleration Account, Sky Ocean ventures, Innovate UK and the EPSRC. They have also received support through SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme.