Bcomp, a leading manufacturer of high-performance components made from natural fibers, has closed its oversubscribed Series B financing round of CHF 32.4 million (US$35 million) with commitment from a range of mobility, financial, and impact investment companies.
The strategic group of investors consists of automotive venture capital from BMW i Ventures, Volvo Cars Tech Fund and Porsche Ventures—alongside Airbus Ventures, Generali, and existing investors—collectively adding new competencies to help fuel Bcomp’s growth.
Bcomp’s natural fiber-based sustainable lightweighting solutions enable substantial weight- and CO2 emission reductions versus standard materials, with applications ranging from FORMULA 1 and automotive, to aerospace, yachts, and infrastructure. The new funding will help scale the business to a global commercial and production footprint, maximizing its sustainability impact.
Bcomp is active in the automotive and mobility, motorsports, marine, sports, and other industry sectors. Its proprietary reinforcement 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, dematerialization, 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 fibers 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 fertilizer 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.
Bcomp’s solutions for sustainable lightweighting with thermoplastic powerRibs can cut weight by up to 50% and reduce plastic by up to 70% in interior panels. Thereby both the impact of materials used, and fuel consumption can be reduced. The solution is cost-efficient and can be seamlessly integrated into high-speed production lines. ampliTex technical fabrics enable novel design options, creating a functional and visual layer in one.
The OEMs associated with the investors have first-hand experience with Bcomp technologies.
BMW has 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 the 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 fiber composites for the lower storage areas, back of the headrest and the footrest. For 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 fiber 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, which is expected to be launched in 2024.
Porsche AG worked alongside the Bcomp team to develop the first natural fiber composite motorsport door in 2019, with the project being listed as a finalist in the JEC Innovation Awards. Following that success, 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 the Mission R’s add-on parts are made using Bcomp’s natural fiber reinforced plastic (NFRP). The natural fiber material can be seen on the car’s exterior, such as the front splitter, the doors, the side skirts and the diffuser.
The new investors include automotive OEM venture funds BMW i Ventures, Porsche Ventures and Volvo Cars Technology Fund AB, alongside Airbus Ventures, Generali, and existing shareholders, collectively adding new competencies to help fuel Bcomp’s hyper growth. The interest in this minority investment round was significant, resulting in an oversubscribed round.