Bioeconomy startup traceless materials secures €36.6 million in Series A round

Photo: Dr. Anne Lamp, CEO and co-foun­der of trace­l­ess (Photo © Anne Lamp)
26. Septem­ber 2023

Hamburg — Bioe­co­nomy startup trace­l­ess mate­ri­als, which produ­ces a natu­ral bioma­te­rial as an alter­na­tive to plas­tic, announ­ces the closing of a €36.6 million finan­cing round. The Series A finan­cing round is led by private equity fund UB Forest Indus­try Green Growth Fund (“UB FIGG”), which invests in sustainable and resource-effi­ci­ent forestry and bioba­sed indus­tries, and comple­men­ted by SWEN Blue Ocean, which invests in inno­va­tions that help address three exis­ten­tial thre­ats to ocean health: over­fi­shing, pollu­tion and climate change. A local bank consor­tium consis­ting of GLS Bank, Hamburg, and Hambur­ger Spar­kasse also parti­ci­pa­ted in the finan­cing round, as did the company’s three exis­ting inves­tors, green tech inves­tor Planet A, seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) and deep tech inves­tor b.value.

Trans­for­ma­tion to circu­lar economy

Plas­tics not only leave behind the visi­ble traces of global plas­tic pollu­tion, but also contri­bute signi­fi­cantly to the climate crisis due to their resource-inten­­sive produc­tion from fossil raw mate­ri­als. As part of a sustainable circu­lar economy, the bioe­co­nomy offers a solu­tion: trace­l­ess mate­ri­als has deve­lo­ped a holi­stic sustainable mate­rial to combat the plas­tic crisis. The natu­ral bioma­te­rial trace­l­ess® is certi­fied fully bio-based, home compost­a­ble and plas­­tic-free. By using agri­cul­tu­ral resi­dues, valuable biomass resour­ces are conser­ved. The patent-pending tech­no­logy is based on natu­ral poly­mers, conta­ins no poten­ti­ally harmful chemi­cals, and has a mini­mal envi­ron­men­tal foot­print: compared to plas­tic, it saves 91% of CO2 emis­si­ons and 89% of fossil energy requi­re­ments during produc­tion and disposal.

“By scaling our inno­va­tive tech­no­logy, we are demons­t­ra­ting that a climate-friendly, circu­lar, resi­li­ent and rege­ne­ra­tive indus­try is possi­ble. With our novel bioma­te­rial, we can make a signi­fi­cant contri­bu­tion to solving plas­tic pollu­tion. We believe that UB FIGG and SWEN are a great addi­tion to our share­hol­ders as they have rele­vant know­ledge in our indus­try. The fact that both our inves­tors and the banks fully support our mission was a decisive criter­ion for us,” explains Dr. Anne Lamp (Photo© Anne Lamp), CEO and co-foun­­der of trace­l­ess.

To imple­ment the inno­va­tive tech­no­logy on an indus­trial scale for the first time, trace­l­ess is buil­ding a demons­tra­tion plant in Hamburg. With this produc­tion faci­lity, the company will replace seve­ral thousand tons of conven­tio­nal plas­tic annu­ally while saving signi­fi­cant amounts of CO2 emis­si­ons, fossil resour­ces, water and agri­cul­tu­ral land.

“The trace­l­ess approach of using widely available agri­cul­tu­ral side streams to replace fossil plas­tics, and the finan­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties their solu­tion offers, convin­ced us both econo­mic­ally and envi­ron­men­tally. The trace­l­ess team has achie­ved extre­mely good results in terms of mate­rial perfor­mance, deve­lo­p­ment times and commer­cia­liza­tion of the new mate­rial. We look forward to support­ing Anne, Johanna and the team as they scale up this inno­va­tive tech­no­logy,” said Sakari Saarela, Part­ner at UB FIGG.

After the German Fede­ral Minis­try for the Envi­ron­ment (BMUV) appro­ved a €5 million grant for the cons­truc­tion of this demons­tra­tion plant earlier this year, the Series A finan­cing round is now the second part of the company’s finan­cing stra­tegy to expand its produc­tion capacities.

“Finan­cing capi­­tal-inten­­sive start­ups is still unfa­mi­liar to many inves­tors and banks. This makes it a special chall­enge for indus­trial manu­fac­tu­ring start­ups like us that are deve­lo­ping the inno­va­tive tech­no­lo­gies of tomor­row. We are very plea­sed to have found part­ners in UB FIGG, SWEN Blue Ocean, Planet A, HTGF, b.value and our local bank consor­tium who share our vision and have reco­gni­zed and unders­tood the chal­lenges of finan­cing our hard­ware scale-up. With their support, we will achieve our ambi­tious goals,” says Johanna Baare, COO and co-foun­­der of traceless

The company produ­ces trace­l­ess® mate­ri­als in the form of a granu­late that can be further proces­sed using stan­dard tech­no­lo­gies in the plas­tics and pack­a­ging indus­try. As a result, the mate­rial can be used in a wide range of end products — from rigid molded parts and flexi­ble films to paper coatings or adhesives.

“The Blue Ocean Fund seeks to invest in start­ups that provide inno­va­tive solu­ti­ons to the three biggest thre­ats to our oceans: Over­fi­shing, marine pollu­tion and climate change. With plas­tic pollu­tion being one of the biggest thre­ats to our oceans, we were imme­dia­tely taken with trace­l­ess. The bio-based and biode­gra­da­ble mate­rial can replace plas­tics in products that easily enter the envi­ron­ment and thus our oceans, such as disposable pack­a­ging and hidden plas­tics in adhe­si­ves and paper coatings. trace­l­ess is a compel­ling alter­na­tive for appli­ca­ti­ons where reusable solu­ti­ons are not sustainable and tech­ni­cal recy­cling is not possi­ble,” says Olivier Raybaud, Mana­ging Direc­tor of SWEN Capi­tal Partners.

About Trace­l­ess

The bioe­co­nomy start-up trace­l­ess mate­ri­als GmbH was foun­ded in 2020 by Dr. Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare in Hamburg. The mission: to contri­bute to a rege­ne­ra­tive, climate-friendly economy and a future free of plas­tic pollu­tion. With its inno­va­tive tech­no­logy, the company produ­ces natu­ral bioma­te­ri­als from agri­busi­ness plant resi­dues that are bio-based, home-compos­t­a­­ble, plas­­tic-free and have a mini­mal envi­ron­men­tal foot­print. To exploit the ecolo­gi­cal poten­tial, the tech­no­logy is now being scaled up from pilot scale to indus­trial scale.

About UB Forrest Indus­try Green Growth Fund

UB FIGG is a private equity fund that invests in compa­nies focu­sed on repla­cing plas­tics and other fossil fuel-based mate­ri­als, higher value and more effi­ci­ent use of wood and agri­cul­tu­ral feedstock side streams, and increased use of these feedstocks in a broad range of inter­me­diate and end-use appli­ca­ti­ons. Through its invest­ments, the fund will help the forestry and bioba­sed indus­tries deve­lop solu­ti­ons to miti­gate climate change. UB FIGG is a signa­tory to the Opera­ting Prin­ci­ples for Impact Manage­ment and reports on the envi­ron­men­tal and climate impacts of its investments.

About Swen Blue Ocean

SWEN Capi­tal Part­ners is a leading player in respon­si­ble private wealth inves­t­ing in Europe, with more than €7.7 billion* in assets under manage­ment, and offers a wide range of invest­ment programs for insti­tu­tio­nal and private clients. Since 2012, the manage­ment company has inte­gra­ted ESG crite­ria into all its asset manage­ment acti­vi­ties and has imple­men­ted a climate stra­tegy since 2017. In 2021, it streng­the­ned its actions in favor of more equi­ta­ble and sustainable growth by laun­ching Blue Ocean. SWEN Capi­tal Part­ners is owned by OFI Invest Group, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa and part of their team. Since Janu­ary 2022, SWEN Capi­tal Part­ners has been a co-part­­ner in the NEC initia­tive, which has deve­lo­ped a metho­do­logy that enables socio-econo­­­mic actors to measure their contri­bu­tion to envi­ron­men­tal change in order to achieve a common goal: buil­ding a respon­si­ble and sustainable economy.

About HTGF

The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy start-ups with growth poten­tial and has supported more than 700 start-ups since 2005. With the launch of the fourth fund, HTGF has around 1.4 billion euros under manage­ment. The team of expe­ri­en­ced invest­ment mana­gers and start-up experts supports the young compa­nies with know-how, entre­pre­neu­rial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digi­tal tech, indus­trial tech, life scien­ces, chemis­try and rela­ted busi­ness areas. To date, exter­nal inves­tors have inves­ted around EUR 5 billion in the HTGF port­fo­lio in more than 2,000 follow-on finan­cing rounds. In addi­tion, the fund has alre­ady successfully sold shares in more than 170 companies.
Fund inves­tors in the public-private part­ner­ship include the German Fede­ral Minis­try for Econo­mic Affairs and Climate Protec­tion, KfW Capi­tal, and 45 compa­nies from a wide range of industries.


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