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Bristol startup nets £3M funding for seaweed-based bioplastic packaging

Image credits: Kelpi

Kelpi, a Bristol-based sustainable packaging scaleup has secured more than £3M in a seed round of funding led by UK-based VC firm Science Creates Ventures and Green Angel Syndicate (that also backed QLM Technology) with funding from One Planet Capital and follow-on investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), together with private angel investors. The round includes £665K grant funding from Innovate UK’s Combined Investor Partnership. 

The UK company will use the funds to conduct manufacturing pilots for their proprietary coatings for paper and cards. In the last 2.5 years, the company has developed high-performance bioplastic packaging materials from seaweed, with a uniquely strong water barrier, oxygen barrier, grease, and acid resistance. 

“This landmark investment enables Kelpi to scale up our pioneering work using seaweed to create bioplastic packaging with the barrier properties required by clients,” said Kelpi CEO and co-founder Neil Morris. “Kelpi can now play a key role in eliminating plastic pollution and ending our dependence on fossil fuels to create single-use packaging. We’re delighted to receive this backing from specialist deep science and sustainability investors like Science Creates Ventures and Green Angel Syndicate to allow us to accelerate our pioneering work with major food and drink companies worldwide to prove our materials at scale.”

Develop biodegradable biomaterials from seaweed

Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. Only 12% of the waste has been incinerated, and 79% has been dumped in landfills or polluted. Right now, more than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal. According to the United Nations Environment Program, by 2050, the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

Founded by Neil Morris, Professor Chris Chuck, and Murray Kenneth, Kelpi has developed a unique biopolymer from seaweed that can be applied as a coating to substrates such as paper and card. The resulting packaging is recyclable, compostable, and marine- safe. 

In addition to food and drink, cosmetics, and personal care, the company serves large businesses throughout the UK. 

Dr. Catherine Fletcher, Principal of Science Creates Ventures, said, “Kelpi stood out to us as a strong combination of world-leading scientific innovation with deep entrepreneurial experience. They’re using deep tech to address a precious commercial challenge, and we’re excited to be backing the company to scale up its solutions in the vital area of reducing fossil fuel dependence on plastics.”

Cam Ross, CEO of Green Angel Syndicate, said, “Our network of specialist members was impressed with Kelpi’s team and technology and their pioneering approach to developing biopolymers from renewable feedstocks like seaweed. At scale, the Kelpi approach will play a vital role in reducing fossil fuel dependency, addressing climate change, and impacting plastic pollution.”

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