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Impossible Materials raises funds for titanium dioxide alternative

Impossible Materials raised seed funding to help commercialize its first product, a cellulose-based alternative to titanium dioxide (TiO2). The white pigment was recently banned in the EU for use in foods as it was deemed unsafe. The startup was backed by Venture Kick last year and has received funding from Innobooster.

The Fribourg-based startup Impossible Materials is a spin-out of the University of Cambridge and the University of Fribourg to create plant-based ingredients for a broad range of industrially manufactured products that allow for more sustainable product formulations.
Its first product is a cellulose-based white pigment that addresses a need created by the recent EU-wide ban on titanium dioxide (TiO2), a common white pigment found in a wide variety of products, as well as the food additive E171 that contains nanoparticles of TiO2.

Impossible Materials’ product mimics the structure of the bright white Cyphochilus beetle’s exoskeletal scales with cellulose, creating a safer and better-performing white pigment. The startup is led by CEO Lukas Schertel and CBO Oliver Polcher.

The startup now announced that it secured CHF 3.4 million (EUR 3.45 million) in a seed round led by Mission Possible Capital, a Swiss venture capital fund. The funding will be used to construct a pilot facility in Marly, Switzerland, expand the team, and work toward market entry in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical sectors.

“We are thrilled to have secured this seed funding, which will enable us to take our technology to the next level,” says Lukas Schertel, CEO of Impossible Materials. “Our platform technology is ready for the next step towards mass production. I am grateful to work every day with such an experienced team that allows attracting highly qualified co-workers. We are confident that our technology will play a leading role in engineering high-value plant-based formulation ingredients that can have a positive impact on the environment and society.”

The startup was awarded CHF 50,000 by Venture Kick in 2022. In February, it was announced that the startup was also selected for the Innobooster program, which supports university-based, high-potential business cases from the Venture Kick program with a CHF 150,000 award provided by the Gebert Rüf Stiftung, according to an announcement made by Venture Kick.

Photo: Pexels (#7140311)