Seed funding for circular bioeconomy startup traceless materials

Photo: traceless foun­ders Dr. Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare (from left)
4. May 2021

Hamburg — The two foun­ders Dr. Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare (photo) of Circu­lar Bioeco­nomy startup traceless mate­ri­als were able to convince three inves­tors in their first round of finan­cing: Planet A, High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) and b.value AG. Thus, traceless mate­ri­als secu­res a single-digit million invest­ment only seven months after its foundation.

Hamburg-based startup traceless mate­ri­als has deve­lo­ped a holistic sustainable mate­rial as an alter­na­tive for plastics and bioplastics. The inno­va­tive mate­rial is fully compost­a­ble — even when it unin­ten­tio­nally ends up in nature — and thus contri­bu­tes to solving global plastic pollu­tion. For the female foun­ding team, the funding is the corner­stone to bring their inno­va­tive new mate­rial to market to solve global plastic pollution.

85% of all plastics produ­ced world­wide are still in land­fills or floa­ting in our oceans. The result is signi­fi­cant envi­ron­men­tal and marine pollu­tion, with unima­gi­ned conse­quen­ces for humans, animals and our planet. One of the EU’s stated goals in its Plastics Stra­tegy is to ensure that all plastic pack­a­ging must be recy­clable or reus­able by 2030. For products that can easily end up in the envi­ron­ment, howe­ver, some­thing more is needed: mate­ri­als that can be degra­ded in nature in the shor­test possi­ble time and, above all, comple­tely. This is exactly what traceless mate­ri­als deals with. The specially deve­lo­ped, inno­va­tive tech­no­logy makes it possi­ble for the first time to produce storage-stable films, solid mate­ri­als and ultra-thin coatings from by-products of the agri­cul­tu­ral indus­try, which offer the advan­ta­ge­ous proper­ties of plastics and yet are fully compost­a­ble in nature.

While traceless mate­ri­als are made from bio-based raw mate­ri­als, they do not conflict with food produc­tion or contri­bute to land use change. Unlike conven­tio­nal (bio)plastics, they require no harm­ful addi­ti­ves, solvents or chemi­cals and have up to 87% lower CO2 emis­si­ons. Since they are neit­her chemi­cally modi­fied nor synthe­ti­cally poly­me­ri­zed, traceless mate­ri­als are not expec­ted to fall under the EU Plastics Direc­tive. Quali­ta­tively, the mate­ri­als are already compe­ti­tive with conven­tio­nal plastics and bioplastics. Produ­ced on an indus­trial produc­tion scale, they will also be able to compete with conven­tio­nal plastics in terms of price. This makes traceless a solu­tion for people all over the world, in all walks of life and income levels.

The foun­ders will use the invest­ment to build and expand the core team and to advance the construc­tion of a pilot plant. This will scale up produc­tion from labo­ra­tory scale to produce suffi­ci­ent mate­rial and bring the first pilot products to market in early 2022. Compa­nies from the consu­mer goods indus­try as well as pack­a­ging and plastics proces­sing compa­nies are already showing great inte­rest in the novel mate­ri­als. Legis­la­tive pres­sure, incre­a­sing custo­mer demand and the urgency to stop the nega­tive impact of plastic on the envi­ron­ment create a unique situa­tion for traceless to change the plastics market in a sustainable way.

“Based on Planet A’s scien­ti­fic impact assess­ment, we are confi­dent that traceless’ unique solu­tion has the poten­tial to make a signi­fi­cant contri­bu­tion to solving global plastic pollu­tion and sustainably trans­form the plastics market,” said Tobias Seikel, co-foun­­­der and part­ner at Planet A.

Dr. Anne Lamp, inven­tor of the traceless tech­no­logy, and Johanna Baare (photo) co-foun­­­ded traceless in Septem­ber 2020: “We are parti­cu­larly proud to have the support of expe­ri­en­ced venture capi­tal inves­tors who under­stand our deep tech solu­tion, share our mission and want to work with us to maxi­mize our posi­tive impact. We are confi­dent that their diverse expe­ri­ence will help us on our jour­ney and toge­ther we can quickly and safely scale our tech­no­logy to indus­trial produc­tion levels. Toge­ther with our custo­mers, we plan to bring the first products made from traceless mate­ri­als to market in early 2022.”

“We evalua­ted diverse compa­nies deve­lo­ping sustainable plastic alter­na­ti­ves, but none of them excel­led as traceless did in combi­ning a strong manage­ment team, supe­rior tech­no­logy with distinct compe­ti­tive advan­ta­ges, supe­rior mate­rial proper­ties and holistic sustaina­bi­lity. We are there­fore plea­sed to support the traceless team with our tech­ni­cal and opera­tio­nal exper­tise to drive the deve­lo­p­ment of the company and its products”, explains Corne­lia Bähr, Invest­ment Mana­ger at b.value

The close conta­cts between b.value and the German biotech indus­try open new doors for the team. For example, its network and port­fo­lio compa­nies include some of Germany’s most inno­va­tive deep-tech star­tups as well as expe­ri­en­ced bioeco­nomy experts. In addi­tion, High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) brings toge­ther several basic and specialty chemi­cals compa­nies invol­ved in poly­mers and ther­mo­plastic compo­si­tes that have inves­ted in its funds. In addi­tion to indus­try conta­cts and exper­tise, the consor­tium is in a posi­tion to make substan­tial follow-on invest­ments in later rounds.

“In the area of sustainable plastic alter­na­ti­ves, we are seeing a lot of inte­rest from the plastics proces­sing indus­try as well as from compa­nies in the consu­mer goods sector. In our view, traceless has the poten­tial to become a tech­no­logy and market leader in new mate­ri­als for pack­a­ging, for example,” explains Johan­nes Weber, Invest­ment Mana­ger at HTGF.

About traceless materials

traceless mate­ri­als GmbH is a circu­lar bioeco­nomy startup from Hamburg with a female foun­ding team that offers a holistic sustainable alter­na­tive to conven­tio­nal (bio)plastics with the mission to solve global plastic pollu­tion on land as well as in water.Their patent-pending tech­no­logy makes it possi­ble for the first time to use by-products of the agri­cul­tu­ral indus­try to produce shelf-stable films, solid mate­ri­als and ultra-thin coatings that offer the same bene­fi­cial proper­ties as plastics yet are fully degrad­able in nature. While traceless mate­ri­als are made from bioba­sed raw mate­ri­als, they do not conflict with food produc­tion and there­fore do not contri­bute to land use change. Unlike conven­tio­nal (bio)plastics, traceless comple­tely elimi­na­tes the addi­tion of harm­ful plasti­ci­zers or solvents and has up to 87% lower CO2 emis­si­ons. Since they are neit­her chemi­cally modi­fied nor synthe­ti­cally poly­me­ri­zed, traceless mate­ri­als are not expec­ted to fall under the EU Plastics Direc­tive. Manu­fac­tu­red on an indus­trial produc­tion scale, traceless mate­ri­als are also price compe­ti­tive with conven­tio­nal plastics, making them a solu­tion for people around the world, across all demo­gra­phics and income levels. Be part of the solu­tion, not pollution!

About Planet A

Foun­ded in 2020, Planet A is an impact inves­tor targe­ting for-profit star­tups that are making a measura­ble posi­tive impact on the planet while buil­ding scala­ble busi­nes­ses. Planet A part­ners with Euro­pean early-stage compa­nies that have the poten­tial to scale globally. The start-ups must contri­bute to a signi­fi­cant posi­tive change in at least one of the following four key areas: climate protec­tion, waste reduc­tion, resource conser­va­tion and/or biodi­ver­sity protec­tion. For its port­fo­lio compa­nies, Planet A offers impact calcu­la­tion support (scien­ti­fic impact measu­re­ment, fore­cas­ting and visua­liz­a­tion), the Planet A Network (a diverse, exclu­sive network of expe­ri­en­ced German and Euro­pean entre­pre­neurs) and the Below One Fund as a long-term finan­cing part­ner (early-stage invest­ments with inte­rest in follow-on rounds). Planet A’s mission is to make impact inves­ting the new normal. www.planet‑

About b.value AG

With a focus on biotech­no­logy, life scien­ces and chemi­stry, b.value AG invests in start-ups in the pre-seed and seed phase in the D‑A‑CH region. In addi­tion to its invest­ment, b.value AG actively supports its port­fo­lio compa­nies in their deve­lo­p­ment with its unique “company-buil­­ding” approach. To this end, b.value AG combi­nes a high degree of tech­no­lo­gi­cal exper­tise in its opera­tio­nal team as well as more than 40 years of expe­ri­ence in the estab­lish­ment, manage­ment and deve­lo­p­ment of tech­no­logy compa­nies and the commer­cia­liz­a­tion of biotech­no­lo­gi­cal products in its manage­ment. It also bene­fits from the accu­mu­la­ted expe­ri­ence of its board of direc­tors in a wide variety of posi­ti­ons in busi­ness, acade­mia and indus­try, as well as an exten­sive network of scien­tists, execu­ti­ves, inves­tors, policy makers and indus­trial and acade­mic thought leaders. b.value AG sees its specia­liz­a­tion and deep under­stan­ding of the indus­try as the key to success. b.value AG is growing and further expan­ding its current port­fo­lio of seven attrac­tive investments.

About High-Tech Gründerfonds

The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy start-ups with growth poten­tial. With a volume of around EUR 900 million spread across three funds and an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner network, HTGF has suppor­ted more than 600 start-ups since 2005. His 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. Almost EUR 3 billion in capi­tal has been inves­ted in the HTGF port­fo­lio by exter­nal inves­tors in more than 1,700 follow-on finan­cing rounds to date. In addi­tion, the fund has already success­fully sold shares in more than 120 companies.

Inves­tors in the public-private part­ners­hip include the German Federal Minis­try for Econo­mic Affairs and Energy, KfW Capi­tal, the Fraun­­ho­­fer-Gesel­l­­schaft and the compa­nies ALTANA, BASF, Bayer, Boehrin­ger Ingel­heim, B.Braun, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deut­sche Bank, Deut­sche Post DHL, Dräger, Dril­lisch AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, FOND OF, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Betei­li­gungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, QIAGEN, RWE Genera­tion SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Infor­ma­tik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG.

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