UK-based startup company Bio-Sep secures US$1.7M in seed funding; company is based on technology that enables production of high-value biochemicals from woody biomass such as sawdust, sugarcane

Sample article from our Sustainability & Social Responsibility

LONDON , June 22, 2022 (press release) –

 

·  London Business School’s Enterprise 100 investment club has led a $1.7 million round alongside ACF Investors for sustainable startup Bio-Sep

·  Bio-Sep, co-founded by LBS alumna Miranda Lindsay-Fynn, converts low-value sawdust from forestry into bio-sourced chemicals that can be used in bio-based materials, cosmetics, medication and dental products helping to contribute to the circular economy

Bio-Sep – a sustainable startup converting low-value sawdust into high-value biochemicals – has secured $1.7 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by London Business School’s Enterprise 100 Club (E100 Club) and ACF Investors, with additional participation from a hedge fund that specialises in climate and clean energy technology.

The startup was founded by Stephen Brooks, a sugar chemist, who was trying to find a solution to the waste from sugar cane production, where 30% of the plant is waste woody biomass which is generally burned or left to rot. Brooks developed and patented a cleaner, low-energy solution that uses ultrasound to help break down woody biomass into high-value biochemical products.

Bio-Sep has built on this technology and is currently upcycling sawdust, which is the most widely available woody biomass in the UK, from forestry partners. Each £1 of sawdust from sawmills is transformed into £6 of biochemicals with a broad range of potential uses. These biochemicals can often be used to replace petrochemicals, contributing to the decarbonisation of the chemicals industry.

These include:

·  Microcrystalline cellulose – a well-known speciality chemical found in medications, cosmetics, composites and 3D printing

·  Hemicellulose hydrolysate – a mixed sugar syrup extracted from softwood that can either be used as a syrup or further processed into sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and sorbitol frequently found in dental products, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages

·  Natural lignin – a complex aromatic polymer that is the only natural substitute for a petroleum-sourced chemical known as phenol which offers a huge number of business opportunities to be used for bio-based resins, composites, coatings, polyurethane foams, bioplastics and more.

The funding will be used to recruit staff to operate the firm’s pilot plant and design the first scaled-up, commercial plant planned for development in heavily forested Scotland. Construction of the commercial plant, which will be able to process 13,000 tonnes of wood a year, is set to begin in 2023.

Quotes: 

Adrian Black, CEO at Bio-Sep, said: “Our technology takes a low-value forestry co-product and turns it into essential chemical building blocks, with all manner of applications across the chemical industry and beyond, delivering significant environmental and economic benefits. This investment will enable us to push on and commercialise the technology, and is a fantastic show of support for what we believe to be a world-changing innovation.” 

Miranda Lindsay-Fynn, co-founder and Commercial Director at Bio-Sep, said: “It was great to come back to London Business School to pitch to and secure funding from the E100 Club. LBS played a vital role in helping me to grow Bio-Sep, with support from the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital faculty this has been pivotal to the future of Bio-Sep, as I continue my entrepreneurial journey.” 

John Bates, Enterprise 100 Club member, London Business School Fellow, said: “London Business School is a breeding ground helping to bring students' ideas to life, giving them access to world-leading experts and initiatives to help them embark on their entrepreneurial journey. Coupled with Enterprise 100, it gives startups like Bio-Sep the opportunity to grow and develop revolutionary ideas to truly change the world.’ 

Jane Khedair, Director of LBS’ Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital, said: “The Enterprise 100 Club has provided a vital pipeline of funding for budding startups at London Business School, giving them the opportunity to scale their businesses over the last 22 years and injecting new blood into the School’s ecosystem. I look forward to seeing Bio-Sep reaching new heights with this funding.”  

Sam Fennell, Partner at ACF Investors, said: “As a society, we rely heavily on the chemicals industry. Products produced by chemical companies afford us high quality of life – they’re the backbone of everything from modern healthcare to technology. But it’s also an industry that’s notoriously polluting. Cleaning up and decarbonising the chemicals industry will be absolutely key if we are to meet climate goals like the Paris Agreement, and the technology provided by Bio-Sep is well-placed to play a central role.”

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Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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