Plastic is all around us – from our homes, cars and phones, to disposable water bottles, food packaging, and even our dental fillings. Avoiding just about every contact with it is, thus, rather unrealistic. Yet, while a lot has been said about the negative impact of plastic on people’s health and the environment, there is now a way to make it a lot safer.
Parx Plastics, a Rotterdam-based company founded by Michaël van der Jagt and Michele Fiori, has spent long years developing and perfecting a technology that can make plastics antimicrobial by using a trace element found in the human body.
“All the technologies to make plastics antimicrobial and currently available on the market are based on toxic substances,” Michaël says. “In order to eliminate the bacteria, those substances come out of the plastic, which means they can also end up on our table, in our food or in the air we breathe.”
What Michaël and his team do differently is use an element that is, in fact, a nutrient to humans. Their technology, which they patented in 2014, is also able to make this element become an intrinsic part of the plastic. “While other solutions are toxic and leaching out, ours is not toxic and not leaching out. It’s twice as safe as what’s available on the market.”
Because of its uniqueness, Parx Plastics’ technology can be used for a wide variety of applications, yet, food packaging and medical implants is where the team currently sees the most potential.
Going public on the stock market
Developing a new and state-of-the-art technology is both resource- and time-consuming.
“We have multiple projects running, but before companies agree to use our technology, they want to test how it works, if all characteristics of the plastic remain the same, and what benefits they can derive,” Michaël says. In the end, the process can easily take up to one and a half years.
To support their operations, the team has attracted several angel investors over the years, and they are now looking for other, perhaps less common ways for a startup, to raise both money and awareness of their technology. In early 2018, they are going live with a direct listing on Euronext Access, a stock exchange market in Paris.
“With a direct listing, we get access to the financial possibilities that the stock market has to offer,” CFO Felix Guépin explains. “The company will be publicly traded, and the shares of the current shareholders will be amended to tradeable shares.”
While they expect friends and family to be the first to jump in, the team hopes the listing will increase their visibility on the market, and help them secure a much bigger funding round in mid-2018. The target will be between €2.5-5 million, and raising it will help them scale up.
Currently, Parx Plastics is a team of five in the Netherlands, and have already attracted a number of paying customers, among which companies in the food processing industry. They also have 12 people working in China, focused on selling the technology. They have already gone through the test process with two clients there, and are negotiating their first orders.
The next big milestone ahead of Parx Plastics is making their direct listing a success, and using it to attract visibility as well as follow-on funding. The capital raised from those activities will go into setting up a facility in Rotterdam, improving their laboratory capabilities, and serving an ever-larger number of clients as efficiently as possible.
It’s all about scaling up from here – and going public is the path they have set on.
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Photographer: Raymond de Vries photography
Copywriter: Mina Nacheva