Private equity invests £3m in Weedingtech

Private equity fund manager and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trust (VCT) specialist Calculus Capital has invested £3m in cleantech firm Weedingtech, which is focused on replacing toxic herbicides.

Weedingtech works in herbicide-free weed and moss control and was co-founded by environmental campaigner and entrepreneur Ben Goldsmith.

Calculus has invested in the business in recognition of the global market potential of its patented weed-control technology, Foamstream. This uses hot water and an organic foam, with the foam acting as a thermal blanket that keeps the heat on long enough to kill the weed or moss.

Governments and regulators around the world are considering, or are already, banning the use of certain chemical herbicides such as glyphosate amid concerns about the risks they pose to human health and the environment. Some councils have trialled the foam technology.

Globally, the herbicide market is estimated to grow at six per cent a year to reach $31bn by 2020 (Allied Market Research, October 2014), with glyphosate accounting for around three quarters of the total. As such there is huge potential for herbicide-free alternatives to increase their share as concerns around glyphosate grow says Weedingtech.

Weedingtech’s Foamstream uses a combination of extremely high temperature water and biodegradable foam made from plant oils and sugars to destroy weeds in a targeted way without damaging other plant life or human health. It can be applied in all weather conditions.

Foamstream, which is already used in the UK by businesses such Yeo Valley Family Farms and Southwest Water and by local authorities such as Southwark, Glastonbury and Hammersmith & Fulham and across Europe in Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and other countries as well as in Canada, is organic-certified and free of controversial chemicals such as glyphosate, which studies have shown to be potentially carcinogenic.

John Glencross, Calculus Capital’s chief executive, said: "There is growing momentum behind moves to ban glyphosate in Europe and around the world, because of the risks to human health and the environment. The licence granted by the EU for the use of glyphosate in Europe was due to expire in June 2016 but was extended until the end of this year. In the meantime, a number of European and other countries have banned or strictly limited the use of glyphosate, particularly in public places and immediately pre-harvest.

"Politicians, industry and consumers are already waking up to the benefits of alternative, more environmentally and human-health-friendly weed and moss control alternatives such as Weedingtech’s Foamstream.

"A ban would put a rocket under Weedingtech’s growth trajectory, but even without one, the business has great investment potential and is already a world leader in glyphosate-free weed and moss control technology with growing revenues and increasing market share."

Alexander Crawford, investment director, Calculus Capital: said "The team at Weedingtech have a strong product in a growing sector and have achieved good results over the last few years – we are delighted to support them as they begin to scale up the business."

Leo de Montaignac, chief executive, Weedingtech said: "Calculus Capital’s investment is an endorsement of Weedingtech’s continued growth potential, as we reach new markets, increase our share in existing ones and develop new herbicide-free weed-control technologies.

"The expertise of the Calculus team in advising and guiding growing companies such as our own will also be extremely valuable to us."


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