A Belfast firm at the forefront of the commercialisation of nanotechnology has secured investment that will allow it to quadruple its research capacity.
MOF Technologies has raised £1.5 million (€1.73 million) from London-based venture capital group Excelsa Ventures and Queen's University Belfast's Qubis research commercialisation group.
The money will also allow the business to scale up its production line capacity.
The bulk of the money has come from Excelsa, the venture arm of Sturrock and Robson, a fourth-generation family business with roots in the mining and shipping sectors in South Africa back in the 1920s.
MOF Technologies chief executive Paschal McCloskey welcomed the Excelsa investment.
“Excelsa Ventures is a perfect fit for a company like us,” said Dr McCloskey. “Its focus has always been on supporting entrepreneurs with a desire to bring disruptive innovation into play for the benefit of industry. That approach has been at the heart of what we have been doing at MOF Technologies since the company’s inception.
“Beyond the financial injection though, it is also reassuring to know we now have access to the significant experience and corporate resources only a partner like Excelsa Ventures can bring. You can’t put a price on that.”
Established in part by Qubis in 2012 in partnership with inventor Prof Stuart James, MOF Technologies began life in a lab at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's.
Its metal organic framework (MOF) technology is seen as having significant potential in areas including gas storage, carbon capture, transport, drug delivery and heat transformation. Though still in its infancy, the market is forecast to grow to £2.2 billion by 2022, the company says.
MOF Technologies last year became the first company worldwide to successfully commercialise MOFs when it agreed a deal with US fruit and vegetable storage provider Decco Worldwide to commercialise MOFs for use in a food application.
TruPick, designed by Decco and using MOF Technologies’ environmentally friendly technology, enables nanomaterials control the effects of ethylene on fruit produce so it maintains freshness in storage or transport.
MOFs are crystalline, sponge-like materials composed of two components – metal ions and organic molecules known as linkers.
"We very quickly recognised the market potential of MOFs in terms of their unmatched ability for gas storage," said Moritz Bolle from Excelsa Ventures. "This technology will revolutionise traditional applications and open countless new opportunities for industry. We are confident MOF Technologies is the company that will lead this seismic shift in materials science."