Materials Nexus raises £2m to accelerate the world’s change to net-zero materials

July 27, 2023

  • Materials Nexus’ unique technology combines AI with quantum mechanics to accurately and rapidly predict novel, high-performing and sustainable materials.
  • The innovation bypasses slow, conventional experimental approaches and accelerates material development from decades to just months – aiding our journey to net-zero.
  • Many of our greenest technologies, including wind turbines and electric vehicles, can benefit from developments in efficiency and performance from their advanced material components. These often rely heavily on the mining of rare-earth materials and precious metals – processes which actively damage the environment. Materials Nexus is primed to disrupt a broad range of these technologies.

LONDON, 26th July 2023: Deep tech company Materials Nexus has raised £2 million to roll out its ground-breaking AI and quantum mechanics technology which fast-tracks the discovery and development of sustainable, cheaper, higher performing materials.

The round was led by Ada Ventures, with further investment from High-Tech Gründerfonds, The University of Cambridge, National Security specialists MD One Ventures, as well as new institutional investor Michael Eisenberg at Genuine Capital Ventures, and angel investors Jasmin Thomas, Andrew MacKay and Hugh Smith. Existing investors include Carbon13, G-force, Katapult and ET Capital.

The ambitious UK-based start-up is determined to enhance a wide range of net-zero technologies such as renewable energy generation, energy storage and electric transportation by redesigning the advanced materials that underpin them, providing higher efficiency, performance and sustainability and lower costs.

Currently, the development of sustainable materials is based on an incremental experimental approach, which is slow, costly and can have diminishing returns.

Materials Nexus is led by founder and CEO Jonathan Bean, a theoretical physicist from the University of Cambridge who, during his time as research associate, identified the need for a modelling platform to accelerate the uptake of new materials to address the climate crisis.

Over the last two years, Bean and his team – which includes computational physicist Robert Forrest, chemist Dr Jon Pillow and commercial lead Nic Stirk – have been working on an AI solution that greatly reduces the need to conduct physical experiments to discover new materials.

They have achieved this by building their own proprietary datasets and machine learning algorithms which are capable of predicting the properties of new material compositions – similar to how AI innovation has been used to disrupt R&D in drug discovery. Accelerated discovery means the costs associated with research and development are lower and new products can be pushed to market more quickly and economically.

As a society, we rely heavily on advanced materials to build the technologies which are vital for a net-zero world. These include magnetic materials used for clean energy solutions like wind turbines and electric vehicles, and precious metals for producing green hydrogen. In the UK alone, there are almost 11,500 wind turbines and more than 810,000 fully electric cars on the roads. Globally, there are currently 314,000 turbines and an additional one million are needed to meet our energy needs. But the mining and processing of rare-earth materials to build them emits over eight million tonnes of CO2 plus other greenhouse gases in addition to using lots of water and toxic chemicals – and this will naturally increase as more of us switch over to green technologies. Our mission is simple – to discover more sustainable materials which governments and companies can use to build green technologies, in a way that’s commercially viable.

Jonathan Bean, CEO of Materials Nexus

Jonathan Bean, CEO of Materials Nexus

Rather than ‘renting’ out its material design approach as a SaaS platform, Materials Nexus is already working with organisations, from SMEs to FTSE 100 businesses, to discover novel materials which can be filed for patent. These can be licensed to existing manufacturers, but the start-up primarily plans to build facilities to produce the materials and then sell them to large companies like original equipment manufacturers.

The company plans to use the new funding to embark on real-world projects to demonstrate the efficacy of its AI technologies. Applications include finding alternative materials used in batteries and semiconductors, which are ubiquitous in today’s world from mobile devices to solar cells. Another possible application is superconductors used in green technologies such as Maglev transport which currently relies on materials that need substantial cooling or high pressure.

At Magway, we are developing a ground-breaking method of transporting goods that is not only highly sustainable but also incredibly efficient. However, to achieve our goals, we understand the importance of optimising materials usage. By leveraging cutting-edge Materials Nexus technology, we aim to develop superior materials that will not only enhance our sustainability credentials but also result in cost reductions, ultimately driving wider adoption of our game-changing technology.

Rupert Cruise, co-founder of Magway, a deep tech company providing innovative solutions for sustainable and efficient goods transportation

Jonathan is a remarkable technical founder and company leader. He is the needle in the haystack that we VCs spend years searching for. Materials Nexus epitomises humans using technology for good, at potentially earth-altering scale. This type of investment is why we are in love with early-stage investing at Ada. The vision is boldness itself. The technology is unique and the team is world-class. Our strong bet is that Materials Nexus has the potential to play a very significant role in our fight against climate change and be the solution to the damaging addiction to rare earths and unique metal compounds we’ve built. All of us at Ada Ventures are thrilled to be able to play a small part in this amazingly exciting journey. It is with deep gratitude that we recognise our exceptional Ada Scout, Jasmin Thomas for finding and introducing Jonathan and his team to us.

Matt Penneycard, Co-founding Partner at Ada Ventures

Western industries face severe geopolitical dependencies, supply chain shortages, price volatility, and sustainable sourcing issues for rare earth materials. Addressing this macroeconomic and systemic need, we are truly excited to back one of the leading pioneers and the break-through materials science discovery platform Materials Nexus. Materials Nexus offers disruptive ML and quantum simulations to identify novel material combinations that pose as validated rare earth material substitutes and which are critical to meet the increasing demand in leading technological fields such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, green hydrogen, semiconductors and beyond.

Maximilian Scholz, Investment Manager at HTGF

Materials Nexus has doubled its team in the last six months with critical technical hires, and is seeking to bolster with more talent passionate about sustainability across all functions of the business.

Team of Materials Nexus
Team of Materials Nexus (Picture: Materials Nexus)

About Materials Nexus
Materials Nexus is a deep tech company on a mission to discover next-generation materials for everyday items that don’t cost the earth. It uses AI to find sustainable, cheaper and higher-performance alternatives to the advanced materials which are used to build the technologies we understand to be vital for a net-zero world. Materials Nexus’ ground-breaking software can accurately predict the properties of sustainable materials and understand the costs and processes associated with scaling and manufacturing them – all in a matter of months, not decades.
For more information, visit

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About Ada Ventures
Ada Ventures is an early-stage fund that supports founders with breakthrough ideas, typically with a first investment of £500k to £2 million. Ada’s mission is to make venture capital accessible to the best entrepreneurial talent in the UK and aims to have the most diverse pipeline, and portfolio, of any fund in Europe.

About High-Tech Gründerfonds 
The seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) finances tech start-ups with growth potential and has supported more than 700 start-ups since 2005. With the launch of its fourth fund, HTGF now has about 1.4 billion euros under management. Its team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts support young companies with expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital tech, industrial tech, life sciences, chemistry and related business areas. To date, external investors have injected about 5 billion euros of capital into the HTGF portfolio via more than 2,000 follow-on financing rounds. In addition, HTGF has already successfully sold shares in more than 170 companies. 
Fund investors in this public-private partnership include the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, KfW Capital and 45 companies from a wide range of industries. 

Media contact
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Tobias Jacob, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager
T.: +49 228 – 82300 – 121

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