Houston-based venture capital firm First Bight Ventures led a $5 million seed round for Encinitas, California-based startup Algenesis, a developer of biodegradable plastics.
Algenesis bills its patented Soleic technology as the world’s first renewable, high-performance, fully biodegradable, and backyard-compostable polyurethane made from plants and algae. Each year, 25 million tons of hard-to-recycle polyurethane are produced for the footwear, medical, and textile industries. Polyurethane, typically made from petroleum, usually ends up as landfill waste or environmental microplastics.
Algenesis says Soleic can biodegrade in compost within a matter of months and does not contain harmful PFAS chemicals found in other plastics.
Algenesis says the new funding will enable it to expand beyond soft-foam applications, such as midsoles and insoles for footwear, and into injection-molded products such as smartphone cases along with waterproof textiles.
Aside from First Bight Ventures, investors in the seed round are Singapore-based Circulate Capital, India-based MIH Capital, Chesapeake, Virginia-based Diamond Sports Group, and France-based Rhinoshield.
The investment comes on the heels of a $5 million grant Algenesis received from the U.S. Department of Energy to scale up production of biochemicals.
“To save our planet and ourselves, we must move away from petroleum-based plastics and toward bio-based alternatives. Algenesis is clearly at the forefront of making this possible,” says Veronica Wu, founder of First Bight Ventures.
“First Bight is investing to bring the best and the brightest — and most promising — synthetic biology startups from around the country to Houston,” Wu said last year.