Espoo-based startup Woamy has raised €1 million in a seed round led by CMPC Ventures and joined by Secto Design Oy. The startup is an Aalto University spin-out formerly known as the Foamwood project that brings to the market a biobased foam material to replace harmful plastic foams. The startup has set ambitious goals for the next 18 months, during which it aims to upscale its technology, construct a machine of sea-container proportions, establish an extensive and global customer base, and secure funding for its first pilot plant through a round of investment.
“Our multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, designers and business minds is now ready to make the foam industry sustainable,” says Susanna Partanen, the CEO of Woamy.
Woamy’s cellulose-based foam is a recyclable, biodegradable, lightweight and strong material that has a mould-free and fast-drying foam manufacturing process with no need for any chemical additives, extreme pressures, or temperatures. Woamy team seeks innovative ways of exploring cellulose-based foams as suitable alternatives to replace plastic in various applications ranging from protective packaging and laminated boards to shoe insoles and building insulation.
“The market for this kind of innovation is urgent and growing as companies all over the world seek ways to eliminate plastic in their products and packaging. We are happy to accelerate our operations to offer these solutions and be part of creating a more sustainable world”, continues Partanen.
The key part of the invention is mimicking the directional strength of wood, which gives Woamy foam its superior directional strength per density in comparison to other bio-based foams. As an acknowledgement of the significance of this innovation Foamwood project’s researchers won the Aalto University School of Science innovation of the year award in December 2022.
”We are proud of the prevailing culture in Aalto University. It supports massively entrepreneurship and innovation activities. Behind the successful startups we can detect a large and year-long number of experiments, trials, failures, and successes which finally lead into working innovation and raising of the follow-up funding from the private sector,” says Panu Kuosmanen, Innovation Advisor from Aalto Innovation Services.
Since the incorporation of the company in June 2022, Woamy has already built a very promising start of customer base and a network of potential collaborators and future investors in Finland and abroad. Woamy has acquired its first pilot customers in the packaging market and developed over five POCs with support from Business Finland and Kiuas Accelerator program.
Woamy’s seed round was led by CMPC Ventures, a venture arm of one of the world’s largest pulp producers who had been following the development and engaged in conversations with the team for over a year.
“CMPC is very excited to partner with Woamy, and has an enthusiastic dedicated team of technical, strategic, and commercial experts to help the acceleration to industrial scale, making the most of the many synergies towards the development of more sustainable products based in our pulp,” says Bernardita Araya, CMPC Ventures Manager.
Secto Design Oy joins the seed round as a follow-up investor not only to promote sustainable materials but also as Woamy’s first customer.
“Secto Design is excited to be involved in Woamy. Not only is this an investment into a sustainable future in line with our values, but a great opportunity for us to further get rid of the remaining plastics in our own operations. Innovations like this are key to progression, and we look forward to this journey.” says Joakim Jusélius, a Board Member of Secto Design.
“Now that our seed round is officially closed, we are excited to focus on our next steps. We have high goals for our next 18 months during which among other things we will be upscaling our technology, building a sea-container sized machine as well as building an extensive and global customer base and raising A round funds for the first pilot plant. We are confident that with our talented multidisciplinary team and the support from our investors and other collaborators we will reach our goals and beyond.” Partanen concludes.