Venture Capital

Evonik to Invest in Biotech Company Jenacell

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Nanocellulose grows in cultural media

Nanocellulose can be manufactured with biotechnology methods, using bacteria in a nutrient medium. The microorganisms produce the material in fiber network at the surface to protect themselves against drying out and other risks. It had previously not been possible to automate the production; fermentation had to be restarted after every harvest from the resting culture media. JeNaCell has now developed an automated production technology for nanocellulose in a continuous loop. The product is regularly removed without interfering with fermentation. This allows for producing large quantities of the material while reducing costs.

The scientific foundations for the JeNaCell production process were established as part of in-depth research conducted at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. The company was established in 2012 by university chemists Nadine Heßler and Dana Kralisch.

Evonik's investment came as part of a Series A round, along with funds from bmt beteiligungsmanagement thüringen and the Sparkasse Jena bank. Further investors include High-Tech-Gründerfonds and Thuringia Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research (STIFT), which had previously provided seed funding. The invested funds will be used, among other purposes, for the set-up and expansion of production at the Jena site as well as for sales and marketing.

Evonik wants to invest a total of €100 million in promising start-ups with innovative technologies and in leading specialized venture capital funds as part of its venture capital activities. Regional focus areas are Europe, the USA, and Asia. Evonik currently holds shares in six start-ups and three funds. For more information visit