The scientists at LignoPure have developed a unique technology to replace plastics by using residues from the pulp and bioethanol industry. For its successful business idea, the start-up has now received KfW’s Gründen 2021 award as the winner in Hamburg. LignoPure is based at the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH) and works there with the Institute for Thermal Process Engineering.
TUHH doctoral students Joana Gil and Wienke Reynolds produce one hundred per cent bio-based plastics based on lignin, which can be used, for example, as UV protection, antioxidants, fat binders and fillers, and can thus replace the microplastics often found in cosmetic products. Fossil and harmful substances are avoided in this way and the range of sustainable products is increased.
In the paper and pulp industry as well as in biorefineries, lignin is a by-product and has so far been incinerated – despite its valuable properties. Lignin is one of the main components of woody plants. It gives them their shape and ensures stability. The start-up LignoPure has developed a patented technology with which the by-product can be processed for use in cosmetic products.
For its successful business idea, LignoPure has now received the KfW Award Gründen 2021 as the winner in Hamburg. One company from each federal state receives the KfW award, which comes with prize money of 1,000 euros. “Our mission is clear: we want to provide sustainable, multifunctional and bio-based ingredients for better and healthier products,” says Joana Gil, co-founder of LignoPure. “We are very pleased that the KfW Award Gründen recognises our goals and honours them with an award.”
In their research work, the scientists receive support from TUHH professor Irina Smirnova, head of the Institute of Thermal Process Engineering. Together with TUHH, LignoPure holds several patents on the production and drying process of lignin. The Startup Dock supports the team as part of beyourpilot: the company has been “docked” since October 2018. IFB Hamburg, together with its subsidiary, IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH, has supported LignoPure with grants through the InnoRampUp programme and the Innovationsstarter Fonds, among others.
LignoPure has already received several awards, including the German StartGreen Award and the international Future Hamburg Award. At the beginning of 2020, LignoPure received a commitment totalling 2.2 million euros from High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg (IFH) and the Swiss holding company Tanovis as part of a seed financing round.