Cellugy, the Danish-based biotech startup replacing single-use plastics with 100% natural bio-cellulose, announces the securement of €2.38 million in seed round funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator Pilot Phase 2.
The company, which was founded in 2018 by Isabel Álvarez-Martos, Deby Fapyane, and Paruntungan Sihombing, has been developing a biomaterial to sustainably replace fossil-based plastic in the packaging industry.
“The world produces approximately 360 million tons of plastic every year, and almost 40% is single-use,” explains Álvarez-Martos. “In Denmark specifically, 40 kg of plastic waste per person is produced each year which ends up directly in the environment. We created a company to contribute to the solution to such a problem.”
EcoFLEXY is produced through the bioconversion of surplus sugar using a patent-pending white biotech process. It can be used in combination with paper, cardboard, and other bio-based materials and meet the performance requirements of the packaging industry, all whilst being fully recyclable and biodegradable. With such an innovative material, the company aims at enabling the industry to comply with the European 2030 ban on single-use plastics at a competitive price.
“Coated paper and cardboard are commonly used to package a great variety of consumer goods like milk, juices, fruits, and vegetables,” commented co-founder Fapyane. “Polyethylene is typically used as the coating barrier in such materials. The problem we identified is that due to this multi-material technology, such packages are not biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable. Our innovative material EcoFLEXY can be used to replace polyethylene, and the final packaging can be recycled in the existing waste management system. EcoFLEXY is the next-generation sustainable barrier coating designed for the packaging industry”.
After raising an initial €430K with a project value of €720K from Novo Nordisk BioInnovation Institute and Sky Ocean Ventures in its pre-seed funding round, the startup has secured funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator to continue with its technological progress. The grant will be used to scale up the production of EcoFLEXY, focusing on technical optimization strategies, a pilot plant setup, and relevant pre-deployment activities.
“We are proud to be an early supporter of Cellugy, who were one of the winners of Sky and National Geographic’s global plastics innovation challenge,” commented Jamie Rowles, Head of Investments at Sky Ocean Ventures. “Their transformational approach represents the future for sustainable and circular materials. As an impact-focused investor, we are excited by the long-term potential for Cellugy’s material to replace current unsustainable and unrecyclable plastics in a range of applications.”
“Having secured the funding that we were in need of is a milestone that is worth celebrating for us and our partners,” added co-founder Sihombing. “We are very grateful for the support of the EIC Accelerator and their network, and this is really a demonstration that sustainability is a key element of the European agenda. As part of our growth and development plans within the EIC Accelerator grant, by 2023, we want to expand our team and portfolio of partners, while establishing our pilot plant. We are very excited to be getting closer to our goal of providing a sustainable solution to one of the most pressing problems of the 21st century. Exciting news will follow!”.