A North-based company is banking on an £8m investment to help it pioneer an innovative process to create high-performance plastic that is also biodegradable.
Plaxica, which employs 20 people at the Wilton Centre in Redcar, has raised significant additional finance - expected to be £8m - from its existing main investors, Imperial Innovations, Invesco Perpetual and Nesta, in a third round of funding.
Plaxica is a technology and licensing company producing biopolymers and platform chemicals from renewable resources.
It is targeting the global polylactic acid (PLA) market that is expected to reach $1bn by 2016.
Plaxica’s technology enables the manufacture of a range of high-performance PLA polymers and intermediates that can be used in applications as diverse as packaging, electronic goods, automotive parts and textiles.
Chief executive Philip Goodier said: “Since our Series B financing in 2011, Plaxica has made significant progress. We have built and are now successfully operating the demonstration plant for our Optipure technology.
“In addition, we have advanced our transformational low-cost lactic acid technology to the point where we are on the verge of building a second demonstration plant for this process. Our intellectual property portfolio has expanded and we have high levels of interest in our technology from potential licensees.”
Plaxica’s innovative process is attracting significant interest from a range of industry sectors in boththe US and Asia as it offers improved properties and a reduced cost ofproduction compared with PLApolymers already on the market.
It also represents a sustainable alternative to current oil-based materials as they are bio-based, fully recyclable and have a smaller environmental footprint.
The company’s pilot plant at Wilton Centre currently demonstrates the core part of Plaxica’s process to modify lactic acid to enable it to be converted into a high-performance plastic.
The additional funding will allow the company to construct its second demonstration plant which will showcase technology for the production of low-cost lactic acid from renewable sources, and to progress a number of important partnership and licensing discussions.
Goodier added: “I would like to thank our investors for the faith they have shown in the company and our employees with this investment.”
Wilton Centre site director Steve Duffield said that the level of Plaxica’s new investment was a great example of what can be achieved when innovation and entrepreneurship are successfully combined.
He added: “This is a very impressive deal that not only reflects the scale of Plaxica’s potential commercial success but also recognises the uniqueness of what the company is doing and the boundaries it is breaking in its specialist field.”
Plaxica’s current funding dealconsists of a commitment from Imperial Innovations, a leading technology commercialisation and investment group of close to £3.9m, alongside existing investors Invesco Perpetual and Nesta Investments which contributed £3.9m and £0.25m respectively.
Plaxica was founded in 2008, built on work carried out in the laboratories of Professor Vernon Gibson and Dr Edward Marshall at Imperial College London.
In addition to its Wilton centre pilot plant facility it also has offices at Imperial College in London.