Lignopure becomes a success story with a sustainable business idea. Winners of the Future Hamburg Award 2019 secure million euro investment.

It is a success story that every startup dreams of: Less than two years after its founding, the Hamburg-based biotech startup, Lignopure, has secured an investment of 2.2 million euros. The company was founded in 2019 by a team of young scientists from the Hamburg University of Technology at Harburg. CEO Joana Gil is convinced that the results of their research on the natural raw material lignin, a byproduct of the pulp industry and biorefineries, could bring about a revolution in the industry. The business idea: to replace harmful fossil-based plastics used in everyday products, such as plastic microbeads, with lignin powders developed by Lignopure. The startup’s target customers are companies in the cosmetics, food and textile industries.

Lignopure wins the Future Hamburg Award 2019

Shortly after its founding, the team applied for the Future Hamburg Award 2019. The award, which was launched not much earlier by Hamburg Marketing, as well as the Startup Unit of Hamburg Invest, is aimed at startups with innovative solutions for the city of the future. Lignopure’s application pays off: The Hamburg-based company beat around 120 competing startups from all over the world and won first place together with the Portuguese tech startup, Heptasense. An important step for the company, as CEO Joana Gil sums up today: “As one of the winners of the competition, we had the unique opportunity to present our startup to important investors and were able to build a broad network.” The visibility the award gives in the international startup ecosystem is worth more than a mere cash prize, Gil says.

Investment secured

After winning the Future Hamburg Award, the young company’s success story continued by winning the German StartGreen Award, among others. The team also received funding from the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB Hamburg) through the InnoRampUp program. Lignopure has now reached another milestone with investment funding in the millions. The startup secured € 2.2 million for its seed financing round from High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg (IFH) and the Swiss holding company, Tanovis AG. “This important step is the result of hard work as well as our team’s great commitment. And it brings us one step closer to our dream of a greener economy,” says Gil. With the help of the investment, she said it would be possible to accelerate brand entry and position the company as pioneers in lignin processing. In addition to supplying lignin products, Lignopure also wants to support its customers in launching their own sustainable lignin-based products.

Pioneers with smart ideas for Hamburg

The investors are enthusiastic about the team’s sustainable business idea: “By combining valuable technical know-how with good management skills, the Lignopure team can offer the market a novel and sustainable technology,” said Dörte Bunge and Lucas Funk from Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg. They also stated that Lignopure was a great example of how novel, future-oriented companies can emerge from the research context. The biotech startup is also receiving recognition from politicians. “It is gratifying to see that there are companies like Lignopure with their innovative, multifunctional and cost-effective lignin products that help other companies become more sustainable. We need pioneers like this with smart ideas in Hamburg,” says Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Business and Innovation.

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