Carbonwave Announces Initial Close of $5M Series A Funding Led by Mirova's Sustainable Ocean FundApril 06, 2023
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Funding expands production capacity into high-value products that replace fossil fuel and animal-based products in the cosmetic emulsifiers, agriculture, textiles, and plastics industries
BOSTON and CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, April 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Carbonwave, the world leader in upcycling the largest seaweed bloom on the planet into ultra-regenerative, plant-based, advanced biomaterials, today announced an initial closing of its $5M Series A round led by Mirova1, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers dedicated to sustainable investment, with additional significant participation from Viridios Capital, Popular Impact Fund, and Katapult Ocean.
Carbonwave upcycles the Sargassum seaweed bloom inundating Mexico’s Caribbean coast into a range of valuable biomaterials, including an organic fertilizer and a cosmetic emulsifier. Photo Credit: Carbonwave
This investment round brings the total funding to date to $12M and will be used to build large-scale cosmetics emulsifier production facilities in Puerto Rico to satisfy growing customer demand for biomaterials. The current Puerto Rico facility, used for R&D, has also successfully developed a leather alternative from Sargassum (the floating seaweed masses), which it will be launching soon. The Company has already developed Sarga Agriscience (Sarga Ag), a line of organic agricultural inputs made from Sargassum's liquid compounds that increase yields, allow crops to survive drought more effectively, and reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer. Sarga Ag products are being tested for large-scale application by some of the leading corporate growers in the world. In June 2022, Carbonwave won the Carbon to Value Challenge with BASF, Seafields, and the Alfred Wegner Institute to produce PET plastics. Additionally, Carbonwave has already sold half a ton of its SeaBalance2000, the world's first seaweed-based cosmetic emulsifier, which was named 'Best Functional Ingredient' at In-Cosmetics Korea in 2022.
"In three short years, we've become the first company to build a scalable cascading biorefinery to create a commercially sustainable operation harnessing Sargassum into high-value products," said Geoff Chapin, co-founder and CEO of Carbonwave. "Support from our investors and partners has allowed us to catalyze our proprietary technology and manufacturing process to turn the Caribbean's seaweed crisis into an economic opportunity and a climate solution. We are producing viable alternatives that redirect demand from fossil fuel-based products by cost-effectively developing a wide range of regenerative, low-carbon, and plant-based alternatives that global industries are seeking to advance their sustainability and decarbonization initiatives, while contributing to the bio-circular economy."
"Mirova, through the Sustainable Ocean Fund, is thrilled to continue its support for Carbonwave with this follow-on investment into the company," said Simon Dent, Head of Blue Investments at Mirova. "We believe that Carbonwave's processing of Sargassum into high-value products is an excellent example of the Blue Economy at work, whilst also providing a unique solution to help address decarbonisation."
Historically, Sargassum seaweed mats have been a feature of the North Atlantic Ocean. However, in the past 12 years, warming ocean temperatures and increased fertilizer and pollution runoff have triggered a separate bloom–the largest seaweed bloom on the planet–in the Caribbean. Known as the great Atlantic Sargassum belt, this yearly bloom poses a suffocating threat spanning from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, where it clogs bays and beaches, threatens tourism, harms the local ecology, and presents other problems. As it accumulates on beaches and in landfills, it decomposes, releasing vast amounts of methane, which increases the pace of global warming.
Traditionally, most commercial seaweed science has focused on extracting simple, raw compounds from better researched species like kelp. Carbonwave is the first company to chart a route to profitably process Sargassum and has developed a novel and proprietary method of extracting its unique biopolymers that are even more valuable than the simple compounds when extracted separately. This extraction method has made Carbonwave the first in the world to produce a wide range of Sargassum-based biomaterials that can displace fossil fuel-based products, such as emulsifiers, textiles, and plastics.
Carbonwave is uniquely suited to addressing the large-scale processing of Sargassum and its diverse product opportunities. Sargassum doubles its size every 10-21 days, and unlike terrestrial plants, does not require land, irrigation, or added nutrients to grow. Among seaweeds, Sargassum is one of the most promising: as a pelagic species, it does not require a particular topography or fixed infrastructure to grow at scale (unlike kelp).
"Our investment in Carbonwave reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting innovative nature-based solutions to mobilize positive action towards net-zero," said Eddie Listorti, CEO, Viridios Group. "Taking Sargassum seaweed, which would otherwise rot on beaches and release methane, and turning it into a range of sustainable products that can displace fossil fuel-based products from the marketplace is the type of innovation the world needs to tackle climate change.
"We believe in investing in initiatives that propel economic and social progress with a focus on efforts that drive a more sustainable future. We have identified in Carbonwave an opportunity to support an innovative solution that leverages a plentiful ocean resource in a manner that has a direct positive impact on our environment," said Ignacio Álvarez, President and CEO of Popular Inc.
"In our mission to build a world where a thriving ocean and economic development can exist in harmony, we are committed to investing in and helping to scale the most impactful ocean-tech startups," said Jonas Skattum Svegaarden, CEO, Katapult Ocean. "Carbonwave joins Katapult Ocean as part of a growing number of Katapult investments into the seaweed space. With increasing opportunities for seaweed's application and the growing potential of scalability for the industry, we are very excited to work with this highly talented team, and we look forward to the journey ahead both through our accelerator program and beyond."
Carbonwave has two operations—one in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico, and the other in Carolina, Puerto Rico—and is exploring additional ventures in the Caribbean to bring about new economic opportunities centered on sustainability, climate, and positive social and economic impact.
Carbonwave is the world's leading developer of ultra-regenerative, plant-based, advanced biomaterials from seaweed. The company transforms sargassum seaweed—a resource long considered waste, which does not need land or other inputs to grow—into biomaterials that can replace petroleum products and other harmful industrial inputs. Carbonwave is part of a new wave of companies that are building the next-generation economies that will heal the planet through materials that are regeneratively sourced from our oceans. For more information, please visit www.carbonwave.com.
Mirova is a management company dedicated to sustainable investment and an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers. Through conviction management, Mirova's goal is to combine long-term value creation and sustainable development. Pioneers in many areas of sustainable finance, Mirova's talents aim to continue innovating in order to offer their clients solutions with high environmental and social impact. Mirova and its affiliates manage €27.2 billion as of December 31, 2022. Mirova is a mission-driven company, labeled B Corp*.
*The reference to a ranking or a label does not prejudge the future performance of the funds or its managers.
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Mirova is an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers.
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**Carbonwave Contact:**Jorge Vega-Matos
**PR and Media Contact:**Chris Allieri
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