Kelpi has received over £4.3 million (€5,047,856) in a new funding round and intends to apply seaweed-based barrier coatings to food, drink, cosmetics, and personal care packaging made of paper and card – replacing single-use, fossil fuel alternatives.

Blackfish Ventures led Kelpi’s funding round; Green Angel Ventures, Kadmos Partners, QantX, Evenlode Foundation, and the South West Investment Fund all contributed to the funding. Follow-on investment also came from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), One Planet Capital, and private angel investors.

Having exceeded its original target of £3 million (€3,522,887.39) in equity investment, Kelpi will use the funds to advance manufacturing pilots; gain regulatory approval for its proprietary coatings for paper and card; and continue the commercial roll-out of its technology.

Apparently, Kelpi’s biomaterial is capable of matching the properties of, or even outperforming, conventional plastics. This includes its water barrier and resistance to both greasy and acidic products.

Claiming to only utilize renewable feedstocks, Kelpi says it sources its seaweed from sustainable farming processes. Seaweed is thought to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide as it grows, thereby deacidifying the ocean and helping marine life thrive.

L’Oréal, Diageo, Waitrose, and the latter’s tropical fresh fruit supplier, Blue Skies, have already signed R&D contracts with Kelpi.

“This landmark investment enables Kelpi to scale up our pioneering work and take to market our world-leading packaging material that is already being chosen by clients,” said Kelpi CEO Neil Morris. “Kelpi can now play a key role in ending our dependence on fossil fuels to create single-use packaging and so eliminating a major source of plastic pollution.

“We’re delighted to receive this backing from investors like Blackfinch and Green Angel Ventures to allow us to accelerate our pioneering work.”

Dr Reuben Wilcock, head of Ventures at Blackfinch, continued: “Kelpi stood out to us as a strong combination of world-leading scientific innovation with extensive entrepreneurial experience. Their technology has immense commercial potential and we’re excited to be backing the company to scale up and go to market.”

“We’ve been consistently impressed with Kelpi’s team and technology, and their pioneering approach to developing biopolymers from renewable feedstocks like seaweed,” added Cam Ross, CEO of Green Angel Ventures. “At scale, the Kelpi approach will play a vital role in reducing fossil fuel dependency, addressing climate change and impacting on plastic pollution.”

Previously, Innovate UK’s Combined Investor Partnership programme, delivered by SETsquared, led a funding round to provide Kelpi with over £3 million in seed funding. This was set to contribute towards the coatings’ development for recyclable and home-compostable food, drink, and cosmetics packaging.

More recently, Loliware was one of nine companies selected as winners of Google’s Single-Use Plastics Challenge, which enabled the company to test its seaweed-based cutlery and straws at the corporation’s foodspaces in the United States. Loliware is a member of the Natural Polymers Group, which recently called for international policymakers to uplift natural polymer materials as valuable assets in the formation of a Global Plastics Treaty.

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