Royal Society Enterprise Fund announces first investment

06 August 2009

The Royal Society Enterprise Fund today confirmed that it has completed its first investment. Novacem, a start-up company developing green cement systems, has raised more than £1 million equity from a syndicate comprising The Royal Society Enterprise Fund, Imperial Innovations Group plc and the London Technology Fund.

Novacem is developing a new generation of carbon negative cement systems, based on research from the top rated Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Imperial College London. The annual production of over 2.5 billion tonnes of Portland cement is already responsible for 5% of global CO2 emissions, and cement volumes are expected to double by 2050.

In contrast to ordinary Portland cement, Novacem cement absorbs more CO2 over its life cycle than it emits. Novacem estimates that for every tonne of ordinary Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around 0.75 tonne of CO2 could be captured and stored indefinitely in construction products. This will transform the cement industry from a significant emitter to a significant absorber of CO2.

Dr Andrew Mackintosh, Chief Executive of the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, said:

"Novacem is exactly the type of company the Enterprise Fund was created to support:  It is based on outstanding science, has enormous potential commercial opportunities but is nevertheless high-risk.  If we are serious about using the challenge of climate change to create new businesses in the UK then we have to invest in and encourage companies like Novacem and give them a realistic chance to deliver."

Stuart Evans, Chairman of Novacem, said:

"We are delighted to welcome our new shareholders. They will help us position the company as a dominant provider of carbon negative cement to the construction industry. We are assembling a world-class team and these funds will help us grow the team, complete an initial pilot plant before the end of 2009 and accelerate development and commercialisation."

The Royal Society Enterprise Fund ("the Enterprise Fund") is a ground breaking initiative which links philanthropy, business and science. The fund will support early stage new technology enterprises and a culture of scientific innovation in the UK. Since launching the fund-raising activity in February 2008, the Royal Society has raised over £6.5m in gifts and pledges.  The fund-raising effort continues. Novacem  is the first investment from the Fund and a limited number of other investment opportunities are also undergoing detailed review.