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Impact fund startup gets shot at ‘Nobel Prize’ of environmentalism

XFrame, an early stage company in Booster’s impact investment fund, is up for a chance to win £1 million as a nominee for this year’s Earthshot Prize.

Thursday, April 20th 2023, 5:26PM

Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) put forward three companies for the prize offered by Earthshot, an environmental charity founded four years ago by Prince William.

Former prime minister Jacinda Adern who recently joined the board of trustees, describes the Earthshot Prize as the Nobel Prize for innovation in environmentalism.

XFrame, which has a modular reusable frame and cladding system, is nominated for the ‘build a waste-free world category’. The prize pool of £5m will be evenly spread among winners in five categories: protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, fix our climate, and build a waste-free world. The top 15 finalists will receive mentoring from international specialists on scaling up. The prize is highly contested, with more than 1,100 nominations from more than 100 countries.

XFrame came out of the VUW architecture school and is one of the early stage companies in Booster’s NZX-listed Innovation Fund (BIF). BIF has a specialised portfolio of companies that aim to make a positive impact on the world.

Fund manager Melissa Yiannoutsos says since the impact fund listed a year ago, the portfolio has increased from 14 to 31 companies and assets under management have grown from $5 million to $15 million.

XFrame is one of the original companies in Booster’s first innovation fund, NZ Innovation Booster (NZIB) which provided Booster KiwiSaver investors exposure to investment in growing Kiwi companies. NZIB was formed in 2018 from a partnership between Booster and the VUW commercialisation arm, Wellington UniVentures. The partnership was extended to Otago University’s Otago Innovation in 2020.

Yiannoutsos says BIF  encompasses NZIB and also includes startups and growing companies from other universities and  crown research institutes (CRIs).

“We’re looking to build a lot of diversity through sectors and company stages as well. Investing early is high risk with potential high returns and we need to be mindful that some won’t fly and offset with those that truly fly.

“They all have a New Zealand origin story although as companies grow it may make sense for some of them to be domiciled elsewhere and some of them are. That actually helps with the diversity piece.”

The other two companies nominated for the prize are Humble Bee Bio which is developing new materials based on a polymer from bee genes, and Sea Forest which has developed a seaweed-based feed supplement that could reduce methane emissions from livestock. In May last year, Humble Bee Bio raised $5m in an oversubscribed funding round for the development of alternative water-repellent coatings.

Auckland-founded carbon capture/transformation firm LanzaTech, which listed on the NASDAQ this year following its merger with AMCI was an Earthshot finalist in the fix our earth category 2022.

Tags: XFrame

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First Credit Union Special - 7.45 7.35 -
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