Plant-based material science company Algenesis got a boost to its natural plastics operation with $5 million in seed round funding. The company, which produces bio-based plastics from plants and algae, received the influx of cash via investors such as First Bight Ventures and Circulate Capital, among others.
Algenesis’ Soleic technology is a renewable, fully biodegradable and backyard compostable and currently available in soft foam applications, such as midsoles and insoles for footwear. This funding will allow the company to expand the material into breathable waterproof textiles and injection-molded products such as phone cases.
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Algenesis produces Soleic as an alternative to petroleum-based plastics such as polyurethane (PU). Because of its composition, polyurethane products often end up in landfills or as microplastics. Soleic bioPU can biodegrade in compost within months and does not contain PFAS. And according to Algenesis, its production results in 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum.
The investment also will allow Algenesis to expand and strengthen its supply chain by bringing more of its production processes in-house, which will allow the company to scale production and commercialization of its materials.
“We are excited to take this next step in our growth journey, and this funding will support us to scale production and meet the growing demand for Soleic PU systems,” said Steve Mayfield, founder and CEO, Algenesis.
This seed round investment follows a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to scale up the production of bio-based isocyanates from algae oils, using a safe, green-flow chemistry process. Algenesis’ goal is to evolve its product to being 100 percent bio-based.
Along with First Bight Ventures and Circulate Capital, MIH Capital, Diamond Sports Group and RhinoShield also contributed funding.
“We invest in industrial bio-manufacturing, and Algenesis is an excellent representation of new companies creating a highly demanded product, such as bioPU, that come from biology versus petroleum. This is a win for the industry, sustainability and the world,” said First Bight Ventures founder Veronica Wu. “To save our planet and ourselves, we must move away from petroleum-based plastics and toward bio-based alternatives. Algenesis is clearly at the forefront of making this possible.”
Algenesis’ funding comes on the heels of two other biomaterials makers hitting major growth milestones. Last week, MycoWorks, which produces natural leather alternative Reishi, opened its first full-scale facility, located in Union, S.C. The plant will produce Reishi using Fine Mycelium, a proprietary construction of the root-like threads found in mycelium.
And biomaterials startup Gozen received an investment of $3.3. million in seed funding to accelerate the development and scaling of its biomaterial product Lunaform. A leather alternative, Lunaform is produced by microorganisms during a fermentation process. According to research from MarketsandMarkets, the plant-based leather market will reach $97 billion by 2027.