Subitec GmbH raises 4.5 m euros in second round financing
Subitec GmbH, a manufacturer of fully automated algae photobioreactors, hascloseda second round of financing. The CleantechFonds of eCAPITAL entrepreneurial Partners AG, Fraunhofer Venture, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) [High-Tech Start-Up Fund] and KfWBankengruppe’s ERP-Startfonds [ERP Start Fund] participated in the capital increase. Subitec funds to the amount of 4.5 m euros will accrue in this round of financing. The raised capital is to be used mainly for launching bioreactors on the international market and to extend technological leadership.
“Compared to other energy crops such as maize or wheat, algae are considerably more efficient in creating biomass. To exploit this potential, Subitec has developed highly efficient algae photobioreactors which permit the propagation of algae and the creation of algae biomass at competitive prices on an industrial scale. Together we would now like to encourage the further development of this innovative company”, says Dr Michael Lübbehusen, Managing Partner of eCAPITAL AG. The capital made available would enable Subitec to further extend its market position. Among other things, source materials for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries can be obtained from the microalgae.
Lübbehusen further adds that Subitec is making the fully automated operation of algae photobioreactors possible with its patented flat panel airlift process. The creation of biomass is not in competition with food production here. Subitec’s reactors can be operated at locations where no other form of farming is possible.
eCAPITAL acted as lead investor in the current round of financing. KfW Bankengruppe’s ERP-Startfonds took a share in the company in collaboration with eCAPITAL.
Subitec will use the funds from the capital increase among other things to develop the fourth generation of the flat panel airlift reactor (FPA). “The collaboration with our new investors enables us to address international markets and further extend our technological leadership”, explains Dr Peter Ripplinger, Managing Director of Subitec GmbH, on the occasion of the recent closing. Subitec was founded in 2000 as a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB.
Subitec GmbH was already being supported by Fraunhofer Venture in this first phase. Matthias Keckl, Investment Manager at Fraunhofer Venture, adds: “Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, the Management of Subitec and later High-Tech-Gründerfonds, we worked out a good basis for this round of financing. We are very happy that with eCAPITAL and KfW’s ERP Startfonds, Subitec now has two new and ambitious partners at its side to give further positive encouragement to the development of the business.”
High-Tech-Gründerfonds (HTGF) took a share in the first round of Subitec financing in 2007, and has now extended its commitment. Marco Winzer, Senior Investment Manager at HTGF, adds: “This round of financing shows that an innovative and solid technology coupled with a strong and committed company team can find the right investor even in a weak VC environment.”
The photobioreactor developed by Subitec GmbH enables efficient production of algae biomass on an industrial scale. Microalgae such as the freshwater algae Haematococcuspluvialis or the diatom Phaeodactylumtricornutum can for example provide fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, carotenoids and colorants. Among other things, these are needed as primary products for the production of cosmetics, food additives and animal feed.
Conventional algae cultivation in Asia takes place mainly in open ponds. The Subitec algae bioreactor in contrast allows land-based cultivation in closed bioreactors without water loss from evaporation. It can also be operated sterilely, i.e. under conditions essential for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
Under these controlled conditions algae biomass can be produced continuously, cheaply and in an environmentally compatible way. Also noteworthy is the positive energy balance. The yield from the solar energy stored in the algae through photosynthesis is higher than the energy needed to operate the facility.
The FPA is made of transparent plastic and fulfils the preconditions for commercial mass production of photoautotrophic microalgae, which subsist only on light energy and CO2 as a carbon source. A directed conduction of flow via static mixers ensures an optimum light supply even with very high algae concentrations. Their modular structure means that capacities can be flexibly extended.
About Subitec GmbH
Subitec GmbH specialises in the development and manufacture of sustainable bio-products from microalgae. The photosynthetic production of these resources takes place in closed, sometimes sterilely operated bioreactors in land and water-based form. Subitec GmbH offers the flat panel airlift reactor (FPA), which fulfils the preconditions for commercial mass production of microalgae. With its low layer thickness and current flow direction by means of static mixers, it ensures that all algal cells are optimally supplied with light. The types of algae employed are Chlorella vulgaris, Isochrysisaff. galbana (clone T. iso), Haematococcuspluvialis and Phaeodactylumtricornutum. Subitec GmbH was founded as a spin-off in 2000 by scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB). The company’s Managing Director is Dr Peter Ripplinger.
About eCAPITAL entrepreneurial Partners AG
eCAPITAL is an entrepreneur-led venture capital company based in Münster, and has been actively supporting innovative entrepreneurs in future-orientated sectors since 1999. The focus is on fast-growing enterprises in the sectors of renewable energy, renewable raw materials, resource-conserving procedures, water technologies, and process technology / new materials and IT.
eCAPITAL currently manages five funds with subscription capital of over 120 m euros, and invests throughout Germany in enterprises in the later stage and early stage phase, as well as in SMEs.
About Fraunhofer Venture
Founded in 1999, Fraunhofer Venture sees itself as a partner both of founders, start-ups and Fraunhofer institutes and of industry and financiers. Through access to Fraunhofer technologies, infrastructure and know-how with over 5,200 patent families, it offers young companies from the Fraunhofernetworkthe possibility of establishing themselves faster and better on the market. Its range of services includes founding, technology transfer, financing and investment management.
About KfWBankengruppe’s ERP-Startfonds
Among other things, KfWBankengruppe finances and supports business start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as investments in growth and employment in Germany. With the ERP-Startfonds it manages and co-finances, it participates in particular in innovative, technology-orientated enterprises with exceptional growth opportunities. It finances both research and product development and the market launch of new products, processes or services. Investments are made jointly with a lead investor under market conditions. Since 2004, ERP-Startfonds has had a total of around 470 m euros at its disposal for investments in young technology companies.
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gruenderfondsinvests 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 Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the KfW Banking Group, as well as thirteen industrial groups of ALTANA, BASF, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, CEWE Color, Daimler, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, Evonik, Qiagen, RWE Innogy, Tengelmannand Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gruenderfonds has about EUR 563 million under management in two funds (EUR 272 millionHTGF I, EUR 291 millionHTGF II).
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