Finland’s Carbo Culture has announced a seed funding round of €550,000 from Lifeline Ventures, Wave Ventures, Starlight VC, Bragiel Brothers, the founder of Unity Technologies David Helgason, Rovio chairman Mika Ihamuotila, and a number of angel investors.
The startup, which is now operating in California, is building a thermochemical reactor that turns bio-waste into biochar. The reactor is easily transportable from one site to another.
Biochar is a carbon made from organic substances found in food production waste from businesses like nut processing and vineyards. It is considered a strong carbon-negative supplement for soil as well as in use in water purification. The market for biochar is expected to be worth more than $2.6 billion by 2021.
“It’s important to build companies where profit is directly linked to positive consequence. Every ton of biochar we sell directly reduces over three tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Our customers are part of the solution, with us,” said CEO Pia Henrietta Kekäläinen.
Kekäläinen along with Christopher Carstens founded the startup following their participation in The Global Solutions program at the Singularity University, which aims to find innovative new technologies and practices that will improve society and people’s lives over the next 10 years.
According to Kekäläinen, there was a steep learning curve for the founders in developing this technology and building the actual product.
“There are not a whole lot of people who can legitimately say that they have been through something similar and can give advice,” she said. “Still, the strong startup connections in San Francisco, London, and Helsinki have proved incredibly valuable, helpful and supportive to me. We would not be here without those people.”
The new funds will be invested in further development of its demonstration reactor, which is being built in California and will handle up to six tons of food waste a day. This will require hiring more talent to prepare the product for eventual commercial trials.
“With our novel approach, we can lead the market by generating new data and insights, that are highly relevant to research and applications, transparency of source and product information,” said Kekäläinen.
Several angel investors have also backed the company: Moaffak Ahmed, Tina Aspiala, Axel Sjöblom, and Atte Palomäki.