Xampla, a University of Cambridge spin-out seeking to reduce microplastic pollution, has secured £2m in seed funding.
The firm is developing a plant protein-based replacement for microplastics added to everyday items.
The material performs like synthetic polymers, but decomposes naturally and fully, without harming the environment.
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The funding will enable the start-up to develop its prototype material into products.
Its initial target is the $12bn microencapsulation market, in which manufacturers of home and personal care products currently rely on synthetic polymer capsules, a usage the EU is considering banning.
In proposing regulations on added microplastics, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) found that each year Europe added the microplastics equivalent to 10 billion plastic bottles were released into the environment and were practically impossible to remove.
The round was co-led by global technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners and Cambridge Enterprise, with participation from Sky media group’s impact investment fund Sky Ocean Ventures and the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VI, managed by Parkwalk.
Amelia Armour, Principal, Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “Xampla is a great example of deep tech emerging from the UK research base at exactly the right time to respond to regulatory changes and consumer trends around plastic.
“We’re excited to be investing alongside an impact investor, and backing a world-class science team that can offer commercial solutions for multiple industries.”
Simon Hombersley, Xampla CEO, explained: “Our mission is to reduce the impact of single-use plastic, and our initial commercial focus is on intentionally-added microplastics.
“With our new plant protein material, we are committed to helping manufacturers make the transition from traditional plastics to high performance alternatives that protect the planet.”