NSW start-up chases $10m funding

A regional start-up wants to raise $10 million to promote a green manufacturing method based around waste paper.

Zeo said it had invented an environmentally friendly material called zeoform, which has "the beauty of wood, the strength of fibreglass and the versatility of plastic".

The Mullumbimby firm manufactures zeoform products from pre- and post-consumer waste paper, said product development manager Emma Evans.

"Zeoform can be made from a range of waste cellulose fibres, but the manufacturing process has strong links with the paper industry and so a preferred feedstock is waste paper," she told ProPrint.

"Zeoform can be made into almost anything – it can replace plastics, fibreglass, wood and wood composites across many industries, including construction and cabinet making, toys and furniture, transport and electronics."

Zeo’s $10 million 'crowd-funding' campaign will be launched at the Green Festival in Los Angeles on 19 October. The hope is that the company’s sustainable manufacturing concept will make the campaign go viral.

The money will be used to build a "commercial scale, state-of-the-art factory and centre of excellence".

[Related: Focus Press opens Wollongong factory]

"The function of this will be to produce zeoform as a powder for third-party manufacturers, to produce prototypes and samples and to produce some commercial orders as well," said Evans.

"It will be a teaching and learning centre that proliferates the zeoform technology in a quick and efficient way through an open-source model, creating a hub for the development of the fibre industry and providing high employment, both skilled and unskilled."

Evans said full-scale production would only begin once the factory was built, although samples had been made to prove zeoform’s commercial viability.

"The future of zeoform is not totally dependent on the crowd-funding campaign, however raising the capital through traditional methods to build a commercial-scale factory is a very difficult task," she told ProPrint.

"We feel so strongly about getting the Zeoform technology out into the world and creating jobs, industry and potentially reviving whole areas that depended on the paper industry that we have decided to go as public as possible and involve the people and not just the corporates."

[Related: More regional news]

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