Nearly a dozen companies focusing largely on waste- or pollution-reducing technologies or on cleaning solutions made brief presentations at an “Innovation Pitch” event at the recent CleanEnviro Summit Singapore conference. Most of the companies were Singapore-based and most were fairly new; all were seeking various types and amounts of funding from investors.
Here’s a quick run-down of most of the presenters and, where available, the type of funding they seek.
This start-up is working to commercialize its carbon fibre aerogel technology, which uses renewable organic material or recycled paper, that can both reduce waste and turn waste into value-added products, thus minimizing industrial companies’ environmental impact. EcoWorth’s process uses a “patented, super sorbent material that has an ultra-high affinity for organic materials, while repelling water. It can effectively absorb fat, oils, solvents and grease from aqueous media,” COO Andre Stolz tells CleanTechIQ. The technology can be used in the the oil and gas industries and to reduce food waste.
EcoWorth Tech is a recent spin-out from Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University (NTU), and the technologies it is working with were developed at the university’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. The company is seeking to raise $5.6 million in equity investments to allow it to set up its first manufacturing line, Stolz says.
Zerowaste Asia offers equipment, processes and reagents to deal with a range of municipal and industrial waste, including Incineration ash, wastewater, wastewater treatment sludge, contaminated soil and sediments. Zerowaste Asia’s process can treat heavy metals found in waste, immobilizing it so it doesn’t leach into the environment when it’s landfilled, and also can turn waste into lightweight construction materials.
To date, the company has raised about S$2 million ($1.5 million) through bank loans, government grants and angel investments, managing director Sun Xiaolong tells CleanTechIQ. Zerowaste Asia is now in a Series A fundraising stage, looking to raise S$5 million to scale up production and sales, he says.
Officials with VRM Biologik centered their Innovation Pitch presentation on BioRegen, the company’s food waste recycling program. Food waste is put in the BioRegen unit, where it’s chopped and then digested by specially formulated microbial formulations. After a few weeks, the microbes have naturally turned the food waste into a kind of slurry that can be the basis for agriculture and horticulture products.
Among VRM Biologik’s other offerings are biological solutions to reduce and control industrial odors. The company has also developed bio-cleaners — acid-based, non-poisonous cleaning solutions that combine essential oils with probiotics. VRM Biologik says these cleaners are suitable for everything from public toilets and commercial food production to home use.
The company has raised $5 million of a $20 million convertible debt round on Crowdability.
BlueRen, a company formerly known as Karboneum, developed what it calls an “innovative chemical process treatment” that turns trash like plastic bags and empty plastic bottles into carbon nanotubes, which have potential use in electronics, optics and nanotechnology, as well as energy storage and composite materials. Besides reusing plastic, the process has “virtually no carbon footprint,” BlueRen says, and releases no toxic gases.
Founded by a pair of researchers at Singapore’s NTU, BlueRen got seed funding via a grant from the DBS Foundation. The company is now seeking investors to allow them to scale up production, officials said at the Innovation Pitch.
The Singapore–based environmental engineering firm provides industrial waste recycling and treatment solutions for heavy industries. The company developed a way to recover metal from waste streams, and says it has also created a process “for the effective rework of sophisticated electronics, for the military, aerospace, marine and telecommunications sectors.
Until now, the company — which spun out of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) — has been awarded research grants totalling about S$550,000, according to project director Kelven Lam. Envichem is now seeking equity financing of about S$1 million, Lam tells CleanTechIQ.
Company officials highlighted Winnow’s technology that they say can help restaurant kitchens cut their food waste in half or more. Restaurant workers log the food they are throwing out; Winnow’s software uses data analytics to come up with ways the waste can be trimmed.
London-based Winnow raised $900,000 in December 2014 led by Mustard Seed’s Social Investment Fund and another $3.3 million in December 2015, led by Mustard Seed and D-Ax, marketing executive Erna Klupacs tells CleanTechIQ. The company is looking to close its next fundraising round by early next year, and is targeting between $3.5 million and $7.5 million. “We expect the raise will be primarily common equity,” Klupacs says, though the firm will “consider financing from all sources,” including VC and family offices. “We will continue to look for investors aligned with our sustainability values, and look for those than can provide added value via expertise in market expansion and product,” she says, adding that Winnow is “also interested in grant funding to develop R&D projects.”
Singapore-based LightHaus develops hyperspectral imaging technology, which sharply reduces the cost of imaging cameras. That allows spectrometers to be more widely adopted across a broad swath of industries and applications, from water quality monitoring and vehicle emissions to crop monitoring and medical imaging. Its latest technology is the FrinGOe, an attachment that turns an iPhone into a “scientific-grade spectrometer,” the company says.
LightHaus, founded in 2011, has not sought VC or grant funding for its FrinGOe technology. The company instead is seeking “big brother” companies that can “partner with us and help us penetrate huge markets, such as smartphones, that are not accessible by small companies like ours,” founder and CTO Phua Poh Boon tells CleanTechIQ.
The Muratec Buddy is an autonomous floor scrubber and dryer that officials from Muratec Machinery Singapore introduced at the Innovation Pitch. Buddy memorizes up to 64 different cleaning routes along with data points including water amount, brush pressure, speed and vacuum power, and can clean a floor as well as a veteran cleaning crew, the company says. The Buddy is designed for places like large shopping malls, hospitals and other public spaces; it began cleaning floors at Singapore’s Changi Airport earlier this year.
Muratec Machinery Singapore is a subsidiary of Murata Machinery, a Japanese company founded in 1935 that’s active in industrial machinery and communications equipment a well as factory automation and logistics. Because of its parent company, the Singapore unit hasn’t had to seek any outside funding to date, but is now open to “any kind of funding” that would help the company produce and distribute its products, officials tell CleanTechIQ.
Founded in Singapore in 2012, Intraix’s efforts center on ways to improve energy efficiency and lower consumption costs. Among the company’s offerings are GreenVoices, an online energy information and reporting tool designed to give insights into users’ energy usage.
A major initiative, and the one that company officials highlighted during their Innovation Pitch presentation, was the Klug Air. It’s a smart-home device that allows users to control their air conditioning from their smartphone — leading to more efficient use and lower costs, the company says. Intraix also offers the Klug home hub, which uses a WiFi router to help connect all of a home’s smart devices, even those running on different platforms.
The company sought crowdfunding through IndieGoGo earlier this year, but only raised 31% of its $30,000 goal.
Water and waste-to-value technologies are areas that investors are looking more closely at, and are hot topics among large corporates, including food and beverage firms Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle, consumer companies such as Nike and Patagonia, semiconductor chip maker Intel, and oil and gas behemoths Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil and Statoil.
Although these sectors still represent a relatively small portion of all cleantech venture capital investments, with water tech startups taking in $391 million, or 8% of the total, through Q2 2016, and waste & recycling startups taking in $211M, or 4% of the total.