Advanced Materials in the UK: Investment opportunities

The UK materials manufacturing sector turns over £33.5bn per year, comparable to the aerospace sector at £31.1bn[1]. This is a huge industry in the UK and contributes massively to the country’s economic wealth.

Our daily lives revolve around materials; they guarantee the functioning, long term durability, safety and environmental compatibility of all the devices, machinery and services around us. Advanced materials have even wider ranging applications, from nanotechnology to ceramics, biomaterials and health products to the latest energy materials for reducing our carbon footprint. However, there is a recognised need for us to revolutionise the way we produce, use and dispose of materials more sustainably.

Innovative start-ups in the UK are developing new advanced materials to meet the needs of our society over the coming decades. At the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund we work with entrepreneurs to support the UK materials sector and turn UK science into economic success. In this blog we look at two of our portfolio companies advancing this sector, Zentraxa and The Electrospinning Company.

Visit our website to find out more about our work and the investment opportunities we are seeking.

Zentraxa

Zentraxa is an exciting new spin-out from the University of Bristol, developing adhesives and other materials based on naturally occurring peptides. Many organisms show remarkably strong and flexible adhesion, able to hold-fast in wet conditions. Zentraxa is learning from nature to develop products that perform better in challenging conditions. The company is manufacturing biopolymers for use in highly functional adhesives that can stick in the wet but be easily disbonded without the use of harsh chemicals. Such glues have applications in medical and industrial settings where they can be easily recycled. Moreover, Zentraxa isn’t harvesting from nature it is manufacturing using its propriety and entirely sustainably platform that moves away from petrochemical use and offers a much greener alternative to the industry norms.

Two years ago, UKI2S was a founding investor and has recently invested again in the company’s latest seed round, as well as providing access to an Innovate grant to take products into market testing. UKI2S was joined in this most recent round by multiple angel investors. However, beyond financial contribution UKI2S is also actively engaged with the team and has worked with the founders to ensure Zentraxa looks to scale successfully.

The hard work of the Zentraxa team has paid off. The success of its most recent seed round will allow the company to develop medical and instrumentation adhesives and demonstrate success in evolving from a platform-based company to one with highly differentiated products.

Zentraxa is now in discussions with commercial partners for advanced glues with applications in a range of market verticals.

Further reading about Zentraxa:
https://zentraxa.com

The Electrospinning Company

The Electrospinning Company was established in 2010 as a spin-out by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). They offer custom design, development and manufacturing services based on electrospinning platform technology to create micro- and nano-fibre biomaterials as tools, services and enabling technologies for medical device and regenerative medicine. They can be made from natural or synthetic polymers and help promote the growth of patient cells to repair or regenerate tissues.

UKI2S has been involved with The Electrospinning Company for many years. We helped found the Company in 2010 and were the first and only investor for almost three years, also bringing in Ann Kramer as CEO who has led the company since 2013. Over the past 10 years, we have contributed to all subsequent funding rounds, alongside other investors including STFC Although we have deliberately started to reduce our levels of new investment as the company moves well beyond the seed stage, we have continued to help bring in other sources of funds, for example bringing in Downing Ventures to lead the last round and supporting The Electrospinning Company’s application to Innovate UK Loan for an innovation loan to fund scale-up activities. We also worked with the company to secure a grant from the Innovate UK-UKI2S Sub-Fund for the development of a synthetic amniotic membrane biomaterial as part of the company’s expansion into development of proprietary products using the expertise gained from working alongside multiple clients. A synthetic amniotic membrane offers a solution to the issues of scalability, variability and reliability of sources that hamper use of the natural material derived from human placenta and used in corneal graft and wound healing surgery. A viable synthetic substitute opens up the possibility of creating a stable and scalable supply chain with no ethical barriers.

The company has performed exceptionally well during the pandemic, making major progress on co-development of products with clients in the fields of ophthalmology, cardiovascular and orthopaedics alongside the synthetic membrane and other in-house developments, and we are really encouraged by the level and breadth of interest it is attracting from both clients and investors.

Further reading about The Electrospinning Company:
https://www.electrospinning.co.uk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3Jmu2Y-P6s

 

[1] https://ukmfgreview.com/technologies/advanced-materials/

More From the Blog

CEO Spotlight: Laura Knight, COO, The Smarter Food Company

Our ‘CEO Spotlight’ series seeks to recognise the wide range of diverse innovators we...

read more

CEO Spotlight: Fiona Marshall

In recognition of wide range of diverse innovators we work with and support, we...

read more