Fribourg, Switzerland-based Bcomp, a cleantech company and ESG-enabler that develops and sells sustainable lightweighting solutions, announced on Tuesday that it has raised CHF 32.4M (approximately €31.79M) in its Series B round of funding.
The investment was co-led by automotive OEM venture funds, including BMW i Ventures, Porsche Ventures and Volvo Cars Technology Fund AB, alongside Airbus Ventures, Generali, and existing investors.
Christian Fischer, CEO of Bcomp, says, “The success of this investment round is a testament to the many years of hard work from the whole team, paving the way for us to scale Bcomp to an entirely new level. We put a very strong focus on attracting strategic investors, but never could I have imagined closing the round with some of the most prestigious Venture Capitalists from the automotive, aerospace, mobility, impact- and finance sectors.”
Bcomp’s natural fibre-based sustainable lightweighting solutions enable substantial weight and CO2 emission reductions in comparison to standard materials, with applications ranging from FORMULA 1 and automotive to aerospace, yachts, and infrastructure. And with the raised capital, the company will be able to scale its workforce, increase global and domestic production capacity, and strengthen its commercial footprint.
Co-founder Christian Fischer says, “Now is the time to scale our production and deploy our global strategy. We are very excited to open this new chapter with the great support of our new partners, developing Bcomp as the global leader of sustainable lightweight material solutions, and making our contribution to the circular economy.”
“Sustainable lightweighting with natural fibre composites”
Founded in 2011 by Christian Fischer, Bcomp is the solutions provider for natural fibre reinforcements in high-performance applications from race to space. It is active in the automotive and mobility, motorsports, marine, sports, and other industry sectors.
Started as a garage project in 2011, the company’s mission was to create lightweight yet high-performance skis. Bcomp launched its first product line, bCores, which was adopted by some of the biggest names in freeride skiing. The founders, material science PhDs from EPFL, used flax fibres to reinforce the balsa cores and improve shear stiffness. Impressed by the mechanical properties of flax fibres, the development to create sustainable lightweighting solutions for the wider mobility markets started.
Today, Bcomp’s 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 shattering.
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 sustainability. Once the parts are no longer needed, the mono-material can be recycled or used for energy recovery in incineration plants.
Investors with first-hand experience with Bcomp
BMW claims to have tested and validated Bcomp’s ampliTex and powerRibs technologies in leading motor racing categories since 2019. 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 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 Demonstrator Vehicle, followed by its most recent concept car, the Volvo Cars Concept Recharge, in 2021. The Volvo Cars Concept Recharge demonstrates the steps Volvo Cars intends to take in all areas of pure electric car development to reduce its cars’ and its overall carbon footprint.
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. On 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, expected to be launched in 2024.
Porsche AG has also worked with Bcomp to develop the first natural fibre composite motorsport door in 2019. Following that development, 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, culminating in the launch of Porsche’s visionary fully electric Mission R concept car in 2021. Many of Mission R’s add-on parts are made using Bcomp’s natural fibre reinforced plastic (NFRP).