Munich-based tozero has just raised €3.5 million for its innovative plans to help Europe decarbonize. The women-led startup has developed a pioneering way to recycle lithium-ion batteries – a first for Europe and a game-changer in the sector.
While achieving Net Zero and decarbonising the continent is crucial for political, environmental, financial and societal sustainability, governments are increasingly looking to the innovation space for solutions that will help us get there. Climatetech innovators tozero have today shared its venture and picked up new investment.
The Munich-based startup has raised €3.5 million in pre-seed financing. The round was led by Atlantic Labs. Verve Ventures, Possible Ventures, renowned business angels and serial founders also joined the round, including former VW board member Jochem Heizmann, as well as co-founders of Personio and FINN, among others.
With the fresh funding, tozero will build its prototype plant in Munich, Germany – where one-third of Europe’s lithium-ion batteries are planned to be produced by 2030.
Founded this summer by Sarah Fleischer and Dr. Ksenija Milicevic Neumann, tozero is on a mission to build a scalable lithium-ion battery recycling machine to recover the critical materials inside, like lithium, nickel, cobalt, and graphite in a sustainable way. They are doing so with the support and technical advisory of Prof. Bernd Friedrich, the pioneer in battery recycling research at IME, RWTH Aachen University.
Sarah Fleischer, Co-Founder and CEO: “We need to act now and build a scalable and robust battery recycling process. At tozero, we’re committed to challenge the status quo of material life-cycle to accelerate decarbonization. This will allow us to enter the electrification era without worries, continue innovation and increase quality of life without compromising. We’re happy to have won such renowned investors and Prof. Bernd Friedrich as our advisor to back our mission.”
Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) are a crucial part of our decarbonization efforts, used for things like electrifying mobility vehicles, machines, drones, or power banks.
However, Europe’s ambition for electrification and increasing the LiB production results in a shocking high dependence on mining countries not only resulting in supply chain constraints but also in real geopolitical and ESG tension for Europe.
The climatetech startup aims to close the loop of lithium-ion batteries and bring toxic waste to zero by returning raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel etc. back into the market. These materials will be provided as fresh battery-grade materials to battery producers and herewith decrease the environmental footprint and strengthen the geopolitical position of Europe.
Daniel Niemi, Principal at Atlantic Labs, said: “Introducing a novel and sustainable way to recycle black mass from lithium-ion batteries is a game changer in the industry, allowing for significantly higher recovery rates of key metals than with currently used methods. Sarah and Ksenija are a fantastic founding team with symbiotic skill sets, deep domain expertise and an ambition to build a lasting venture. We are thrilled to partner with them on this mission.”
Prof. Jochem Heizmann, a former member of the board of Volkswagen, added: “Recovering all raw materials from lithium-ion batteries through recycling is a must from an economic and ecological point of view, but it is not yet state of the art. Besides the importance of this task, the competence of the tozero founding team convinced me to invest”