The Covid19 pandemic and concerns around Brexit have done little to impact the rate of investment in UK startups, with over $15bn (£11.2bn) in venture capital funding reaching UK tech companies in 2020. And among them plenty of exciting emerging companies addressing important issues.
One of the first to announce an investment round in 2021 is Cambridge-based Xampla which this week announced it has closed a €6.8 million seed finance round to accelerate the roll-out of its next-generation plastic replacement. The fund is led by Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Li Ka-shing (whose portfolio includes A list tech companies Deep Mind, Impossible Foods and Zoom) and follows a €2.2 million round announced in April last year.
Bart Swanson of Horizons Ventures said: “We invest in highly innovative companies in Asia, Europe and the US with the potential to disrupt on a global scale. Xampla’s excellent core science and strong commercial advantages set it apart in the race for a replacement to plastic, and we look forward to working with the team to build the business over the coming years.”
Xampla is one of a series of companies that are working to replace microplastics and single-use plastics with environmentally friendly alternatives. Rivals include Vancouver-based company EcoSafe which manufactures compostable film products intended to replace conventional plastics.
According to the company “microplastics are commonly added to fabric softeners, shampoos and cosmetics, agricultural and industrial products. Many end up end up in the ocean, where they are ingested by marine life, blocking digestion, affecting nutrition and working their way up the food chain, potentially to humans. Every year, Europe alone releases a bulk amount of microplastics into the environment equivalent to 10bn plastic bottles.”
Xampla is working to replace synthetic plastic by engineering the next generation of bio-based material, made entirely from plant protein
Jeff Seabright, Xampla Chair, said: “The Xampla team had a great first year, with excellent technical and commercial progress. We look forward to working with Horizons and our other investors to continue to build Xampla and deliver its significant commercial potential by addressing one of today’s most pressing problems – plastic pollution.”