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Dutch deep tech startup CarbonX bags €10M to combat graphite shortage: Here’s how | Silicon Canals



Delft-based CarbonX, a deep-tech startup, announced on February 7th that it has closed €10M in a fresh funding round co-led by Innovation Industries, InnovationQuarter, and Borski Fund. 

The Dutch company will use the funds to accelerate its commercial growth to the next level. 

The capital injection will also allow the TU Delft Spin-Off to optimise its unique material further, scale the commercial organisation, and increase production capacity to support high-volume applications.

CarbonX CEO Rutger van Raalten says, “In the wake of export curbs imposed by China earlier last month, we see an increasing need for localised supply chains. With CarbonX technology, we enable the EU and US to source raw materials independently. Not only at a lower cost per kWh, but also with a reduced carbon footprint which becomes increasingly more important for the battery value chain.”

CarbonX: Securing access to graphite’s alternative

Founded by Rutger Van Raalten and Daniela Sordi in 2014 as a TU Delft spin-off, CarbonX aims to solve the rising need for a local supply of critical raw materials for the battery industry. 

With its proprietary feedstock technology, the Dutch company enables cell manufacturers and EV OEMs to source critical anode materials locally in high volumes.

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According to the company’s claims, its feedstock technology consumes low energy compared to synthetic or natural graphite, resulting in lower costs and a reduced carbon footprint.

Daniela Sordi, CTO of CarbonX, explains “Our feedstock technology seamlessly integrates into existing carbon black manufacturing plants resulting in the production of a novel structured carbon material that functions as an active anode material, like graphite. CarbonX’s unique 3D porous network structure improves electron- and lithium-ion transfer, while it is still highly compressible to achieve outstanding battery performance. Moreover, we’re already developing fast-charge and high energy density grades in collaboration with the industry.”

The Dutch company initially developed the technology for the tire industry with Dutch investor Sequoia and is now entering the battery market, providing a cost-competitive and more sustainable alternative to graphite.

The investor

Innovation Industries is a Dutch deep-tech venture capital firm with over €500M in capital under management. Innovation Industries invests in industrial technology, med-tech, and agri & food technology – focusing on deep-tech companies that can address global challenges. 

The VC’s portfolio companies make an impact through breakthroughs in energy-efficient photonic chips, climate-resilient seeds, and safer & more efficient batteries.

InnovationQuarter is the regional economic development agency for the greater Rotterdam The Hague area.

The agency finances innovative and fast-growing companies, assists international companies in establishing their businesses in this region, and facilitates (international) collaboration between innovative entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes, and the government. 

InnovationQuarter has €300M in funds under management. 

Borski Fund is a diversity tech VC fund that invests in climate tech and sustainable solutions, health care companies, and financial empowerment propositions.

The €40M VC fund primarily targets Western Europe-based companies with international aspirations, offering support to entrepreneurs through their extensive network and entrepreneurial experience.

“The deep material knowledge of both founders and R&D facilities headed by Daniela is a unique asset to the company. The drop-in solution and proven large-scale manufacturing enable CarbonX to scale fast. It’s all about timing. Rutger and Daniela maintained contact for several years; in 2023 we recognized CarbonX’s outstanding progress on battery performance, the imminent shortage of graphite, and the need for near-shoring supply chains,” says Bertrand van Leersum; investment director of Borski Fund.

“As a result, Borski Fund, Innovation Industries, and InnovationQuarter partnered to fuel the long-term growth of this impact-driven and diverse founders team. The new investors base brings extensive experience in deeptech, battery development, and growth dynamics to support the company in its international expansion,” adds van Leersum.

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