MEIF - Proof of Concept

GreenTech water treatment firm raises £700k for roll-out

The company behind an eco-friendly water treatment that will clean up polluted rivers and seas has raised a further £700,000 to help roll its technology out at more municipal water plants.

I-Phyc has secured investment from Mercia managed MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, alongside capital from Trowlock Strategic Planning, Namier Capital and private investors.

I-Phyc’s system – which is chemical free – uses microalgae and cutting-edge technology to remove phosphorus, ammonia and other contaminants, while locking away carbon and creating sustainable by-products such as biomass. It is already in operation at a number of sites. The company, which currently employs 15 staff at its headquarters in Birmingham and laboratory in Bristol, is also in discussions with all other major operators.

The latest investment, which brings the total raised by the company to date to over £2m, comes amidst growing pressure for water companies to reduce pollution levels and follows the introduction of stricter limits on phosphorus and other contaminants, which many operators are unable to achieve economically and environmentally using current technology.

Karl Wills, Executive Chair at I-Phyc, 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, even if they vastly increase their use of chemicals. I-Phyc’s system offers a nature-based, carbon capturing solution that will help clean up our coasts and rivers. Our existing investors have been supporting us since 2019 and this further round is a great endorsement of their faith in the technology.”

Kiran Mehta, Investment Manager at Mercia, said: Mercia initially invested into I-Phyc in 2019 when the company was looking for support to build its initial test product. Roll forward less than three years and I-Phyc has now completed the product development, successfully sold and installed fully operational sites with a number of water companies, and has a healthy pipeline which validates the strong market need for this product. It has been a pleasure working with Karl, Russell and the team and I look forward to continuing our close and collaborative relationship as I-Phyc enter the next stage of their growth journey, including internationalisation.

“The investment into I-Phyc also aligns well with Mercia’s ESG focus; unlike existing technology in the industry, I-Phyc’s system is truly sustainable, not reliant on chemicals and is more carbon friendly.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “MEIF is actively supporting businesses that are contributing to the region’s net-zero economy. With a third round of funding in place, I – Psych will be able to increase the rollout of its innovative sustainable water treatment system – a great example of how the MEIF can support businesses over the course of their growth journey. I would encourage other Midlands’ businesses seeking to grow to consider MEIF funding.”

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull and Net Zero Board Champion at Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) added: Many businesses across our region have stepped up to the challenge of developing innovative, sustainable solutions that will help reduce our carbon emissions. This latest investment into the I-Phyc system highlights how low-carbon technologies, as championed by GBSLEP, are not only driving inclusive economic growth through creating jobs and commercial opportunities but helping clean up our polluted waterways which will improve the quality of life of our residents.” 

Jamie Partington of Higgs provided legal advice to Mercia.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund and Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund projects are 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.