Puraffinity have developed a novel bio-based adsorbent material that can selectively capture micropollutants including pesticides, pharmaceuticals and high-performance chemicals like Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, PFCs) from wastewater. Our solution enables customers to adhere to increasingly stringent wastewater regulations and help to protect their local ecosystem.
We were inspired by nature’s capacity to make biomaterials, and was concerned with the challenge water shortage poses to our health and nature. This led us to focus on fixing nature’s threat of water shortage with nature’s capacity to make biomaterials.
Most of the team met in 2014 at the world’s biggest synthetic biology competition, iGEM, where we came 2nd out of 245 university teams. We also have six advisors who got involved via the RAEng, by networking at various conferences and events and by reaching out to potential coaches via the Horizon 2020 scheme.
Enterprise Lab support
The Enterprise Lab was crucial at the start of our journey. We came together as a commercial entity for VCC in 2014. It was during this very programme that we formed CustoMem, now Puraffinity, as a company; we gathered enough traction to convince ourselves to discard job and PhD offers and pursue a student-led startup instead.
Now we are scaling up, our product market fit has been confirmed by revenue paying customers and we’ve shipped product to potential strategic partners. Exciting times! The plan is to improve global environmental and human health by engineering bio-based materials that target chemicals. We do this first by demonstrating the technology for capture of the top 12 most hazardous chemical in the world as declared by the UN at the Stockholm Convention.
We have recently been awarded a transformational grant of €1.4m (£1.2m) from Horizon 2020, enabling us to scale up to industrial pilot trials of greater than 100 m3/day flow rates and production capabilities of 250g/day. Our granular media has been proven to achieve superior performance rates of 99.9996% in synthetic water tests. These advancements have allowed us to gain several buy-ins from the industry. In 2018 Q2, we have generated two new opportunities for on-site pilots in Scandinavia, negotiated two new potential tier 1 strategic partnerships with experimental evaluation finishing within Q3 and received one new US pilot request.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
The advice we would give to anyone thinking of starting a business would be to listen harder. Everywhere you go, be the one who listens the hardest and prioritise all four of your healths: mental, spiritual, emotional and physical.