Hamburg’s success story LignoPure secures EUR 2.2 million

3 February 2021
Startup’s sustainable business idea yields huge investment for Future Hamburg Award winners 2019

The Hamburg-based biotech startup, LignoPure, has secured an investment of EUR 2.2 million just two years after it was founded by a team of young scientists from the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, a press release said in January. The spin-off's research findings on lignin may yet prove revolutionary, according to Joana Gil, Managing Director. Lignin is a complex organic polymer found in the cell walls of many plants making them rigid and woody. The by-product of the pulp industry and biorefineries has yet to be fully exploited. 

The startup’s business idea focuses on replacing harmful fossil-based plastics in everyday products e.g., plastic microbeads with lignin powders developed by Lignopure. The unique features of lignin could go towards groundbreaking materials and products tailored to the needs of clients in the cosmetics, food and textile industries.

Future Hamburg Award 2019 for Lignopure 

The company had barely been founded when the team found themselves vying for the Future Hamburg Award 2019. Launched by Hamburg Marketing and Hamburg Invest’s Startup Unit, the brand-new award targets startups with innovative solutions for the city of the future. Lignopure's application paid off and the company prevailed over 120 rival startups from all over corners of the globe and shared first prize with the Portuguese tech start-up Heptasense. Two years later, Gil remarked: "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." Visibility in the international start-up ecosystem is worth far more than a mere cash prize, she pointed out.

Start-up secures investment worth millions

Lignopure is now going from success to success and it has recently won the German StartGreen Award. Backed by IFB Hamburg’s InnoRampUp programme, Lignopure secured EUR 2.2 million seed round financing from the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg (IFH) and Tanovis AG, a Swiss holding company. "This milestone is the result of hard work as well the great commitment shown by our team. It brings us a step closer to our dream of a greener economy," said Gil. The investment will accelerate the company's brand entry and make it a pioneer of lignin processing. Apart from customer supply, Lignopure also wants to help its clients launch their own sustainable lignin-based products. 

Clever, pioneering ideas for Hamburg

Commenting on the team's sustainable business idea, Dörte Bunge and Lucas Funk of Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg, said: "By combining valuable technical know-how and good management skills, the Lignopure team can offer the market novel and sustainable technology." Lignopure is a great example of how unusual, forward-looking companies can emerge from research. Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg's Senator for Economics, echoed their remarks, and said: "It is gratifying to see companies like Lignopure with innovative, multifunctional and cost-efficient lignin products helping other companies become more sustainable. We need pioneers like these with smart ideas in Hamburg.” 


Sources and further information

IFB Hamburg

The Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB Hamburg) is essentially the city's development bank, and backs housing and economic development as well as environmental protection and innovation projects. IFB Hamburg is the main point of contact for private individuals, companies and institutions in Hamburg in need of funding. It advises about all funding offers available in Hamburg, and about those of the German government and the EU. More information can be found on:

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