Tech South West member Kelpi lands £4.3m funding to take seaweed packaging to market

Tech South West member Kelpi has secured £4.35 million in investment to take its pioneering biomaterial technology to market.

The funding will allow the Bristol firm to expand operations, grow its team and run scale-up pilots to plot a pathway to launch.

Kelpi caused waves at the Tech South West Awards 2023 by winning five category awards – the first organisation ever to do so – with CEO Neil Morris also winning the Tech Leadership Award. 

The company’s equity funding round was led by Blackfinch Ventures, with funding from Green Angel Ventures, Kadmos Capital, QantX, Evenlode Foundation and the South West Investment Fund as well as follow-on investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), One Planet Capital and private angel investors. 

Having initially sought £3m in equity investment, raising £4.35m (US $5.5m) constitutes a significant success for Kelpi.

The funds will be used to advance manufacturing pilots and gain regulatory approval for proprietary coatings for paper and card as well as continue a commercial roll-out which has already seen the firm win R&D contracts with global leaders like L’Oréal, Diageo, and Waitrose and their tropical fresh fruit supplier Blue Skies.

Kelpi’s bio-material is unique in matching or even exceeding the performance of plastic, in particular with a strong water barrier and resistance to greasy contents or acidic foods. Kelpi uses only renewable feedstocks, sourcing seaweed farmed sustainably, ensuring a positive impact upon the environment as seaweed sequesters huge amounts of carbon dioxide as it grows, deacidifying the ocean and providing a rich environment for fish.

“This landmark investment enables Kelpi to scale up our pioneering work and take to market our world-leading packaging material that is already being chosen by clients,” said Kelpi CEO Neil Morris. “Kelpi can now play a key role in ending our dependence on fossil fuels to create single-use packaging and so eliminating a major source of plastic pollution. We’re delighted to receive this backing from investors like Blackfinch and Green Angel Ventures to allow us to accelerate our pioneering work.”  

Dr Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures at Blackfinch, said: “Kelpi stood out to us as a strong combination of world-leading scientific innovation with extensive entrepreneurial experience. Their technology has immense commercial potential and we’re excited to be backing the company to scale up and go to market.”

Cam Ross, CEO of Green Angel Ventures, said “We’ve been consistently impressed with Kelpi’s team and technology, and their pioneering approach to developing biopolymers from renewable feedstocks like seaweed. At scale, the Kelpi approach will play a vital role in reducing fossil fuel dependency, addressing climate change and impacting on plastic pollution.”

Ben Cooper, Director and Funding and Finance lead of Tech South West said: “This is great news for Neil, Hugo and the team at Kelpi. And it is another great example of the amazing technology coming out of the South West in the blue/green space, and with support from South West based Angels and the South West Investment Fund. We’re looking forward to seeing Kelpi at our London Showcase on 12th June and shouting about the amazing tech economy we have in the region.”

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