Ceramic Matrix Composites for Industrial Heat Treatment: Constantia Industries Investing in WPX Faserkeramik
In December 2014, Constantia New Business GmbH, a subsidiary of Constantia Industrie AG (CIAG), signed an equity participation agreement with WPX Faserkeramik GmbH for a seven-figure round of A Series funding. The corporate investor from Vienna serves as a strategic partner in support of young technology companies. The investment places it alongside DLR and HTGF as the third institutional shareholder in the company.
“By gaining CIAG as a corporate investor, WPX can now position itself as a qualified and reliable supplier to major industrial firms,” notes Dr. Mathias Kunz, CEO at WPX. “This will play out through investments in modern production technology and the industrialization of our production processes.”
For Constantia Industries, the profile of WPX Faserkeramik represents a perfect opportunity. “Through the instrument of Constantia New Business, we are striving to invest early in innovative European technology companies. This applies perfectly to WPX and its product WHIPOX® — a fiber-reinforced ceramic that allows for completely innovative new applications and process optimizations. We look forward to a strong collaboration with the team at WPX and its existing equity holders,” explains Stanislaus Turnauer, CEO of Constantia Industries. The investment also represents a boost in Constantia New Business’s presence in Germany.
Industrial heat treatment of metals has seen annual market volumes of over 25 billion EUR in Europe alone. Conventional metal and ceramic furnace components cause significant process cost due to facility downtimes as much as wear-and-tear. Lightweight WHIPOX® furnace equipment furthermore improves energy efficiency by reducing the heat capacity of furnace equipment.
WPX Faserkeramik uses the outstanding material properties of its oxide ceramic matrix composites (OCMC) in industrial heat treatment processes for metals, in applications for chemical processing technologies, and within components for the automotive exhaust tract. WPX supplies its products to major industrial customers from the automotive, plant engineering and metal processing industries. Its OCMC products are corrosion resistant, do not warp, and eliminate carbon contamination of the workpieces. They also prevent from catastrophic failure, which is characteristic for conventional ceramics under thermal and mechanical shocks. Whipox®, a high-performance OCMC, was initially developed at the DLR German National Aeronautics and Space Research Center (Cologne, Germany) for heat shields and gas turbine components.
Seed financing was provided by the High Tech Gruenderfonds (HTGF) in December 2013, allowing a spin-off from the DLR, the development of the first series of materials and products and the establishment of a distribution infrastructure. “I’m very pleased that the operative business at WPX has developed so quickly and strongly within one single year, to the point where we’ve managed to acquire CIAG as another strong partner for sustained ongoing dynamic growth,” says Kay Balster, the Investment Manager from HTGF responsible for the early stage investment.
About WPX Faserkeramik GmbH
WPX is a spin-off from the Institute for Materials Research (WF) at the German National Aeronautics and Space Research Center (DLR) in Cologne. It holds the exclusive licenses for WHIPOX®, a high-performance oxideceramic composite material (OCMC). WPX develops, produces and distributes OCMC products for high-temperature applications, especially for the industrial heat treatment of metals, for chemical process engineering, and for high-temperature resistant components in the exhaust tract of gas turbines and motors.
About Constantia Industries AG
For more than 40 years, Constantia Industries AG has operated as a privately owned and internationally oriented company. The Austria-based corporate group currently employs a workforce of over 3,000 employees, with annual revenues of around € 618 million. The group operates in four strategic divisions. The most important markets for the group’s subsidiaries are the construction and building materials, furniture, sporting goods, machinery and generator, aerospace and solar and energy technology industries.
Through its subsidiary Constantia New Business GmbH, the group invests in young companies in the technology field or working to resolve the challenges facing society. More at www.ciag.at.
About High-Tech Gruenderfonds
High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests in young, high potential high-tech start-ups. The seed financing provided is designed to enable start-ups to take an idea through prototyping and to market launch. Typically, High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests EUR 500,000 in the seed stage, with the potential for up to a total of EUR 2 million per portfolio company in follow-on financing. Investors in this public/private partnership include the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, the KfW Banking Group, as well as strategic corporate investors including ALTANA, BASF, Bayer, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, CEWE, Daimler, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, Evonik, Lanxess, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, METRO, Qiagen, RWE Innogy, SAP, Tengelmann and Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gruenderfonds has about EUR 576 million under management in two funds (EUR 272 million HTGF I, EUR 304 million HTGF II).
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Senior Investment Manager
Tel: +49 (228) 823 001-12
Fax: +49 (228) 823 000-50