ECBF raises €175m fund to support Europe’s circular economy

15 Dec 2020

Image: © TSUNG-LIN WU/

The Luxembourg-based fund is seeking sustainable solutions ready to scale across Europe.

A fund dedicated to financing European companies in the circular bioeconomy has more than doubled in size within two months of starting operations, reaching €175m.

Large corporate investors in the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) include food and beverage giant Nestlé and Neste, producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. Other new investors include German insurance company Volkswohl Bund Versicherungen and NRW Bank, the promotional bank of the west German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Launched in October, the first investments from the ECBF were in Dutch company PeelPioneers and German company Prolupin. PeelPioneers has developed a completely circular solution for orange peel, turning it into products such as orange oils, dietary fibres and animal feed. Prolupin produces high-quality proteins from lupine plants, which are then formulated into non-dairy alternatives for the European market.

Both growth-stage companies, the ECBF investment will support expansion of these businesses in Europe. Seeking more late-stage bioeconomy companies looking to scale, the fund hopes to encourage the transition towards a sustainable economy in Europe.

‘To help innovations make a breakthrough, we need more growth capital and expertise. The ECBF provides both’

The fund will target deals with high potential for innovation, favourable returns and sustainable impact. Its investment focus centres on EU member states and 16 countries associated with Horizon 2020.

“We foresee very attractive opportunities to stimulate innovation growth at the pan-European level, as the transformation from linear fossil-based value chains to a circular bio-based economy is accelerating considerably,” said Michael Brandkamp, managing partner at ECBF Management.

Established in Luxembourg, ECBF raised €82m in its first round and €93m in its recent second round. The targeted fund size is €250m. The European Investment Bank contributed to the first round earlier this year and has committed €100m to the fund overall.

In all, there are nine private and public investors in ECBF spanning five European countries, while the fund expects to continue diversifying its investor base and remains open for newcomers into next year.

“Other investors interested in participating in this exciting development are welcomed at ECBF until August 2021,” said Brandkamp.

Prof Andreas Pinkwart, Economics and Digital Affairs Minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, said: “North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the leading European locations for the bioeconomy. However, to help innovations make a breakthrough, we need more growth capital and expertise. The ECBF provides both.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.