iCAST member Kelpi secures £4.35 million in new funding

Kelpi, a firm that uses seaweed to create sustainable packaging, has taken a step closer to market after securing major new funding.

Co-founded by Professor Chris Chuck from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering, the firm recently secured £4.35 million in investment to launch its pioneering biomaterial technology in the food and drink and cosmetics and personal care sectors.

The funding round will allow Kelpi to expand its operations, grow its team and run scale-up pilots to plot a pathway to launch. Kelpi’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Stefanie Federle, Principal Engineer Dr Ed Jones, and Senior Polymer Scientist Dr Marco Piccini are alumni of the University of Bath’s Institute of Sustainability, formerly known as the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT). Prof Chris Chuck was one of the first Whorrod Research Fellows of the CSCT.

The equity funding round attracted investment from Blackfinch Ventures, Green Angel Ventures, Kadmos Capital, QantX, Evenlode Foundation and the South West Investment Fund, as well as follow-on investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), One Planet Capital and private angel investors.

The funds will be used to advance manufacturing pilots and gain regulatory approval for proprietary coatings for paper and card and continue a commercial roll-out which has seen the firm win R&D contracts with global leaders including L’Oréal, Diageo, Waitrose and its tropical fresh fruit supplier Blue Skies.

Prof Chris Chuck said: “It has been fantastic to be able to leverage the University’s capability in sustainable technology research, and with support in those early months, develop an idea all the way through to creating genuinely novel materials on scale. The materials themselves not only have advanced functionality but will readily biodegrade if released into the environment.”

Kelpi’s bio-material is unique in matching or even exceeding the performance of plastic, in particular with a strong water barrier and resistance to greasy contents or acidic foods. Kelpi uses only renewable feedstocks, sourcing seaweed farmed sustainably, ensuring a positive impact upon the environment as seaweed sequesters huge amounts of carbon dioxide as it grows, deacidifying the ocean and providing a rich environment for fish.

Kelpi CEO Neil Morris said: “This landmark investment enables Kelpi to scale up our pioneering work and take to market our world-leading packaging material that is already being chosen by clients.

“Kelpi can now play a key role in ending our dependence on fossil fuels to create single-use packaging and so eliminating a major source of plastic pollution. We’re delighted to receive this backing from investors like Blackfinch and Green Angel Ventures to allow us to accelerate our pioneering work.”

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