Rethinking packaging: strengthening paper - with bio-based and biodegradable additives

French start-up FunCell receives 4.8 million euros


Following successful laboratory tests and fundraising, FunCell is now starting industrial production of its technology.

The Grenoble-based company, a spin-off from the CNRS research institute, has already proven its expertise. Just as importantly, they have also gained the trust of investors who are hoping for a growing market. In an investor round a few months ago, the inventors from Grenoble were able to raise €4.8 million.


The four founders of FunCell, from left to right: Laurent Heux, Julien Leguy, Gilles du Sordet, Henri Sors

The market opportunities for the company, which was founded in 2020, are good. The issue of packaging waste has not just been at the top of the agenda since yesterday. But since the EU announced its catalog of measures, the discussion about less waste and more recycling has really taken off. After four years of tough negotiations, the EU packaging regulation is now a done deal. The key message: the EU directive obliges companies to use only recyclable packaging by 2030 and some single-use plastic food packaging will no longer be permitted.

FunCell's agenda and expertise fit in perfectly with the times: paper manufacturers are also looking for additives that enhance paper and cardboard by strengthening their material structure and making them more resistant - without the use of plastics, most of which are not recyclable.

FunCell's expertise is based on many years of research at the CRNS laboratory CERMAV in Grenoble. In its founding year, the start-up was awarded the Grand Prix of the i-Lab competition. The bio-based macromolecule, marketed under the BioWet® brand, is used to strengthen the mechanical properties of paper products and at the same time enables a reduction in pulp by up to 30 percent. "We were able to double the resistance under mechanical stress when dry and even increase it fifteenfold when the material is wet," explains Gilles du Sordet, CEO of FunCell.

The investment in green technology is also economically viable. Gilles du Sordet explains: "Once our plant-based additive is integrated into the pulp, the basis weight of the cardboard can be reduced, resulting in a lighter yet stronger product."

The second product line, BioGraft™, on the other hand, is used to develop barrier papers, including water-repellent paper products. The company has an ambitious timetable for future development: FunCell is investing in a pilot plant. The first one is scheduled to go into operation in 2024/2025 and meet demand for smaller quantities. Target: 100 kg/day. In 2025/2026, an industrial plant is to start production in a newly built factory. A daily output of 600 kg is planned here. In addition to the start of series production and industrialization of the developed technology, the company is focusing on expanding its customer base - also internationally.

Anyone who wants to get to know FunCell, the technology and the people behind this promising start-up will soon be able to do so in Wiesbaden. FunCell will be taking part in the Zellcheming Expo trade fair from June 18 to June 20, 2024.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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