Yesterday, the European Innovation Council (EIC) announced a new wave of startup funding for 65 companies, set to collectively receive upwards of €360m in funds under the EIC Accelerator. Funding was granted to innovative startups and SMEs working with breakthrough innovations across a variety of industries, including healthcare, digital technologies, energy, biotech and space.
“The EIC Accelerator is a unique European funding instrument of the European Innovation Council. It supports the development of top-class innovations through crowding-in private investors and offers a portfolio of services to support their scaling up,” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
Gabriel said part of the EIC’s wider aim through funding these companies was to bring Europe forward in addressing the health, environmental and societal challenges of today.
Kaffe Bueno to receive €2.5m grant - 'a huge step forward'
Amongst those selected to receive funds was Denmark-headquartered upcycled coffee startup Kaffe Bueno, due to receive a €2.5m grant. Established in 2016, the biotech firm offered several upcycled active ingredients, including a high lipid coffee oil (Kaffoil), launched globally in 2019 and exclusively distributed by global flavour and fragrance major Givaudan as Koffee’Up. The startup also has a natural exfoliant for cosmetics and gluten-free flour for food.
The EIC funding added to the €1.8m in equity and soft funding Kaffe Bueno had already received to date, including €1.1m in seed funding secured in October 2020 that was being pumped into a flurry of active cosmetic ingredient launches targeting inside-out beauty, anti-ageing and sun protection.
So, what did this latest round of funding mean for the startup and how did Kaffe Bueno plan to use the EIC grant?
“The funding means a huge step forward for Kaffe Bueno into fulfilling its vision – changing the world’s perception of coffee – as it enables us to scale up the unlocking of its potential, particularly within cosmetics and nutraceuticals,” Alejandro Franco, co-founder and CCO of Kaffe Bueno, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Franco said the company planned to use the funds to build its first coffee biorefinery in Denmark – a first for Europe too and a project that had been in the works for the past three to five years. The aim, he said, was to have the biorefinery completed by the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023.
Kaffe Bueno also wanted to use some of the EIC funding to help advance product development of new active ingredients to ensure they were fit for commercialisation and scale-up. The aim was to launch these new ingredients soon, all derived from molecules within coffee to bring high value to key segments like sun care, makeup, hair care and skin care, he said.
“We cannot fully disclose the ingredients yet and their modes of action, but they will be positioned as actives within [these] segments,” he said.
Upcycled coffee active to help ‘decarbonise’ beauty
Importantly, these actives were all upcycled, biobased and circular and could therefore help “decarbonise” end products, Franco said.
Today, about 60-70% of coffee grounds worldwide ended up in landfill; a large portion were incinerated for energy; and a very small percentage recycled into briquettes and pellets or fertilisers, according to Kaffe Bueno. Upcycling these coffee grounds into high-value active and functional ingredients, therefore, was a valuable alternative, it said. And for the personal care and food industries, using these ingredients enabled them to reduce overall CO2 emissions of products and also provided scope for beauty manufacturers to replace certain synthetics and petrochemicals.
“Coffee is the most underutilised resource on earth. And Kaffe Bueno’s vision is a world where people see coffee as a resource for improving people’s lives, rather than seeing it as their caffeine fix,” the startup said.
Final paperwork preparations would now take place for the €2.5m EIC grant to be released to Kaffe Bueno.