UK-based Molymem--a University of Manchester spin-out--secures £500,000 to scale up development of 'breakthrough' water filtration technology; company says its 2D advanced filtration materials are greener, cheaper, energy-efficient, 'highly versatile'

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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom , January 18, 2023 (press release) –

A spin-out company based at The University of Manchester that is developing a breakthrough water filtration technology, which promises to be both greener and cheaper, has secured SEED equity investment of £500,000 to help scale up.   

Molymem, with its mission to enable cleaner water supplies for the world's growing demand, has developed an energy-efficient and highly versatile membrane coating based around a material called modified molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) to create an innovative water filtration solution.  

The technology comes from research led by Professor Rob Dryfe and Dr Mark Bissett, at The University of Manchester, working in partnership with innovation experts at the University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC).  

This team has used a two-dimensional version of MoS2, part of which is a natural crystal with physical properties that are complementary to those of graphene, the world’s first 2D material, originally isolated at The University of Manchester. 

Molymem and its filtration application has been awarded an investment funding package of £500,400. Among the private sector investors are Cambridge Angels, Manchester Angels and NorthInvest.

Ray Gibbs, Chairman and Director at Molymem, said this new funding would enable the company to scale up and deliver on its mission. He said: “New 2D materials for membranes are needed to improve sustainability, accessibility and tackle one of the world’s greatest problems – delivering clean fresh water for all.”

“The application of 2D advanced materials into water filtration technologies will, we are confident, help provide solutions to this critical global challenge.”   

Working with businesses and utility companies Molymem has coated a variety of membrane systems and tested the rejection of various salts and other organic molecules, such as nitrates. The performance is equal to or better than existing commercial solutions - but at much lower cost, making the Molymem system a 'greener and cheaper' option.”

Dr Mark Bissett Chief Scientific Officer (Molymem Limited), Reader in Nanomaterials, Dept. of Materials (University of Manchester) commented “It’s incredibly exciting to see our technology, which was developed here in the labs at the University of Manchester as a fundamental research project, be successfully spun out into a company and receiving this funding. Going forward I look forward to seeing our technology have real commercial impact and see our products improving sustainability in multiple industries.”

Richard Lydon, a leading filtration expert and senior advisor to Molymem explained: “Access to clean fresh water is one of the greatest problems we face in the world. Factors that impact on the availability of clean water include climate change, water quality, pollution, and population growth.

“At the same time, water and wastewater treatment plants across the world need to be upgraded to keep pace with legislation and the ever-growing demand for drinking water. This unique technology is an added value to existing membrane systems reducing particulate 'clogging' of the current filter, enabling improved life, reducing the use of chemicals and increasing flux (water flow). The Molymem platform is robust in any environment and can be tailored (through specific functionalisation of the coating) to reject target particulates such as nitrates, phosphates, PFAS/PFOS, dissolved organics, heavy metals and other pollutants, offering unique selling points to meet the needs of the water industry.”

Rajat Malhotra, Managing Partner, Wren Capital and a member of Cambridge Angels commented, “ We liked the sustainability aspect of Molymem and the strong management to apply novel technology into a significant market in need of new membranes to deal with the increasing threat of particulate pollution (especially nitrates) in the water course. We, therefore, wanted to lead a SEED funding round on behalf of Cambridge Angels who were subsequently joined by investors from Manchester Angels and NorthInvest. This first tie-up makes a strong strategic link between Manchester and Cambridge to enhance co-syndication between the investor groups and the hope of more to come.”   

David Levine, Principal of Manchester Angels said: "We're very excited to have participated in Molymem's recent raise. Manchester Angels was established specifically to fund early-stage, game-changing technologies and technology businesses and help support levelling-up for the North."

Jordan Dargue, Board Director of NorthInvest said: ''We were so impressed with the Molymem team's expertise and passion.  The technology is innovative and solves a real market problem so I was thrilled to be able to help the company access funding at this crucial stage.  What’s more, this round of investment for Molymem is a perfect example of how angel networks can collaborate to help Northern entrepreneurs access investment.  I’m so pleased for Richard and the Molymem team and look forward to seeing what the future holds. “

Notes to Editor

1) Richard Lydon is a leading figure in the filtration, separation and membrane markets and is providing valuable advice and guide the Molymem team as it embarks on its commercial journey in wider areas of the clean and deep tech market sectors.

 2) Molymem is a University of Manchester spin-out and has developed and patented a new class of novel nano-coating applied to membranes for ultra-high filtration performance. The 2D functionalised materials can be retrofitted easily to existing membranes, utilising existing infrastructure and a large installed base. The initial focus is in the demand-driven space of clean water, water reuse and species selectivity but with potential across numerous other industry sectors including air, gas cleaning and future clean energy sectors. Chosen routes to market will be via licence and royalty deals with Membrane suppliers, Original Equipment Manufacturers and System Integrators.

3) Cambridge Angels is a leading UK business angel network providing smart capital from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs. The collaborative Cambridge-based group, actively mentors and invests in innovative teams and their ideas, equipping generations of entrepreneurs to generate returns and help realise their full potential. The group has a strong ethos of backing merit and supporting entrepreneurship. Cambridge Angels members, most of whom are successful entrepreneurs, invest in a wide range of start-up and scale-up businesses with a particular focus on deep-tech, and tools and technologies supporting healthcare.

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