Start-up of seaweed-based replacement of plastics ULUU raised $8 million in a Seed round that attracted and an all-star cast of investors from music, restaurants and models.
The round was led by existing backer, Main Sequence Ventures, backed by Alberts Impact Ventures, Mistletoe and Possible Ventures.
The Western Australian company makes compostable polymers known as PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) made from seaweed, which have the potential to replace plastics of all kinds, from food packaging to durable goods and textiles.
Also supports the idea in raising supermodel Karlie Kloss and Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker, as well as others from the arts, music and hospitality industries through Main Sequence’s social impact community Voice Capital, including Melvin Benn, MD of Festival Republic, the organization behind the festivals of Glastonbury and Reading; Nathan McLay and Future Classic (best known for Flume, Flight Facilities and G Flip); and Australian chef Neil Perry.
The capital will be used for product development and technical R&D to develop new ways to scale up the production process. ULUU is based at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, with co-location support from the University of Western Australia.
Co-founder Dr. Julia Reisser that with a UN-led pledge from 20 countries to end plastic pollution by 2040, the need for environmentally friendly solutions is urgent.
“Today’s plastic problem extends far beyond single-use water bottles and straws. Most people don’t realize that plastic has become a ubiquitous part of every aspect of our lives. From the clothes we wear to the beauty products we use and the cars we drive – it’s everywhere and our planet is suffering,” she said.
“We have discovered a way to create a versatile range of natural polymers called PHAs that can mimic the durability of plastic, but have the added benefit of being biodegradable and compostable. Our fermentation process, which is similar to brewing beer, allows us to maintain a clean production process using ocean resources, including seaweed and seawater.”
Her co-founder Michael Kingsbury said Kloss and Parker’s support will help them gain a foothold in industries such as fashion and beauty.
“To make a real change in this world, we need powerful voices for the good,” he said.
“We are honored by their support and look forward to combining our expertise and public outreach to make a difference in addressing this planetary issue. Together we help bring the world to a post-plastic era.”
Main Sequence partner Phil Morle said the world’s plastic problem is one of the biggest crises facing humanity.
“ULUU‘s natural polymers have the potential to permanently replace many of the plastics we use today in clothing, packaging, accessories and more,’ he said.
“Julia and Michael are incredibly ambitious and perfectly positioned to make this happen quickly.”
Parker and his bandmates from Tame Impala have promoted eco-friendly initiatives on their The Slow Rush tour, partnering with non-profit organization REVERB to reduce the environmental footprint of touring and help fight climate change.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations as a band about how to reduce our carbon footprint and there’s so much more we can do, both personally and collectively,” he said.
“I am very excited to support ULUU because I believe they provide sustainable solutions to global problems. And if I can help by using our platform to make people aware of what they are doing, then I think we can really make positive changes.”
Kloss said she was very aware of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment
“A lot of powerful environmental sustainability innovation is happening right now and we need to spend time learning about and supporting companies that are working to find ecological solutions to the problems our planet faces,” she said.
“That’s exactly why I’m so proud to invest in it ULUU and its mission for a bigger, greener future.”