The algae that could clean up our rivers and seas

19th May, 2020

A company with an eco-friendly water treatment system that can reduce pollution levels has raised £550,000 to help roll it out to the water industry.

Industrial Phycology (I-Phyc) has secured a second round of funding from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and private investors.

Recent trials at Weston-super-Mare sewage works have proved that I-Phyc’s system consistently ensures that wastewater meets the strict new limit for phosphorous levels – a standard many water companies are unable to achieve economically with current technology. I-Phyc, which is based in Birmingham and has laboratories in Bristol, is already in discussion with water companies for the first units and, with the sales pipeline growing faster than predicted, it is planning to raise further investment in the coming months to help it meet demand.

I-Phyc’s system uses the natural power of algae to reduce pollutants such as phosphorous and nitrogen. Its photo-bioreactor system is more effective than other algae systems as it penetrates deep below the water surface, reducing the size of tank required and making it ideal for smaller treatment plants. The process also produces biomass that can be used to generate biogas, fertilizer or printer ink and it captures carbon, helping operators to reduce their carbon footprint.

The latest funding brings the total raised by the company to over £1.2m and will support its plans to create 25 new jobs over the next five years.

Russell Bright, the company’s CEO, said: “Only 14 per cent of UK rivers meet the minimum standard for water quality and although new regulations impose a ten-fold reduction in phosphorus levels, many sewage plants cannot achieve this. I-Phyc’s system offers a natural solution that could help clean up our coasts and rivers. We are delighted that our existing investors are supporting this second fund round which is a great endorsement of their faith in the technology.”

Jo Slota-Newson, Investment Manager at Mercia, added: “Water companies are eagerly searching for new technologies to help them meet the new standards. Following the success of the recent trials, I-Phyc has seen very strong interest from them. This latest funding round will allow it to expand its team and start supplying its systems to the industry.”

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said: “From its Birmingham base, I-Phyc has developed an innovative new water treatment system with huge potential. This marks the second investment round the MEIF has supported, with the Fund helping to support the firm’s long-term growth. Further demonstrating how this fund can make a real and measurable difference to growing innovative businesses across the Midlands Engine region.”

Pat Hanlon, Board Director for Access to Finance at GBSLEP, said: “Helping to support innovative businesses like I-Phyc is high on our agenda at GBSLEP, and this is an excellent example of how providing funding can help create products which will play an extremely important role in supporting the environment. We’re excited to see this new funding help the team at I-Phyc grow and expand and continue its impressive work.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

 

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