07. Apr 2022
A group of leading mobility and impact venture capital funds, including BMW i Ventures as lead in-vestor, has completed a CHF 32.4 million (USD 35 million) investment in sustainable lightweighting specialists Bcomp, as the Swiss scale-up closed its Series B financing round this month.
The new investors include automotive OEM venture funds BMW i Ventures (Mountain View, CA, USA), Porsche Ventures (Stuttgart, Germany), and Volvo Cars Technology Fund AB (Göteborg, Swe-den), alongside Airbus Ventures (Menlo Park, CA, USA), Generali (Trieste, Italy), and existing share-holders, collectively adding new competencies to help fuel Bcomp’s (Fribourg, Switzerland) hyper growth. The interest in this minority investment round was significant, resulting in an oversub-scribed round.
Bcomp’s natural fibre-based sustainable lightweighting solutions enable substantial weight and CO2 emission reductions versus standard materials, with applications ranging from FORMULA 1 and au-tomotive, to aerospace, yachts, and infrastructure. The new funding will help scale the business to a global commercial and production footprint, maximising its sustainability impact.
Bcomp is active in the automotive and mobility, motorsports, marine, sports, and other industry sec-tors. Its proprietary reinforcement technologies ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ are used for making light and stiff composites that enable reduction of the environmental impact of products. This is achieved through weight reduction, dematerialisation, renewable raw materials, and viable end-of-life options. They offer significantly higher vibration damping and can reduce the risk of sharp shatter-ing.
The flax fibres used to produce ampliTex and powerRibs sequester CO2 during their growth and act as a rotational crop to improve soil health and subsequent harvests. They are also indigenous to their growth areas, which results in low water and fertiliser requirements for long-term sustaina-bility. Once the parts are no longer needed, the mono-material can be recycled or used for energy recovery in incineration plants.
The OEMs associated with the investors have first-hand experience with Bcomp technologies.
BMW has tested and validated Bcomp’s ampliTex and powerRibs technologies in leading motor racing categories since 2019, e.g. as substitute for selected carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) components in DTM touring cars from BMW M Motorsport. Starting with the iFE.20 Formula E race car, the technologies were also used for parts of the 2020 BMW M4 DTM bodywork and include the recently announced BMW M4 GT customer racing exterior and interior. The next step is transferring the sustainable technologies and scaling their impact to road-homologated cars.
Volvo Cars first worked with Bcomp in 2018 for the Volvo Ocean Race Recycled Plastics Demon-strator Vehicle, followed by its most recent concept car, the Volvo Cars Concept Recharge in 2021. Inside the Volvo Cars Concept Recharge, Volvo Cars has used Bcomp’s natural fibre composites for the lower storage areas, back of the headrest, and the footrest. For the exterior, it is used for the front and rear bumpers as well as the sill mouldings. Volvo Cars is actively exploring the use of natural fibre composites in its next generation of pure electric cars.
Furthermore, Volvo Cars’ strategic affiliate Polestar aims to adopt Bcomp materials for most of the interior panels of the Polestar 5, the production evolution of the Polestar Precept, which is ex-pected to be launched in 2024.
Porsche AG worked alongside the Bcomp team to develop the first natural fibre composite motor-sport door in 2019, with the project being listed as a finalist in the JEC Innovation Awards. Following that success, Porsche Motorsports leveraged the benefits of ampliTex and powerRibs in the production of both exterior and interior vehicle components for the Cayman 718 GT4 CS MR, culmi-nating in the launch of Porsche’s visionary fully electric Mission R concept car in 2021.
Many of the Mission R's add-on parts are made using Bcomp’s natural fibre reinforced plastic (NFRP). The natural fibre material can be seen on the car’s exterior, such as the front splitter, the doors, the side skirts, and the diffuser.
“We are very proud to announce our Series B closing, marking a very important milestone in the de-velopment of Bcomp. We are grateful to our long-term investors who have yet again contributed to this round, and we are extremely happy to welcome some of the best strategic and financial inves-tors we could have wished for”, says Bcomp CFO Tobias Laederach. AT