Expanding its Innovation Platform to Create Performance Biomaterials Across Industries
BERKELEY, Calif. & SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Checkerspot, Inc., a materials innovation company, announced today that it has closed its Series B financing of $36 million. The primary use of proceeds will be directed towards commercial development and the expansion of the company’s product and innovation platform. The financing was led by Viking Global Investors, with participation from other existing investors including Builders VC and Breakout Ventures. Wilbur Ellis’s Cavallo Ventures, a new strategic investor in Checkerspot, also participated. Including the Series B, Checkerspot has raised more than $50 million.
Throughout many consumer and industrial supply chains, product developers are searching for unique, high-performance materials to help drive revenue growth and product differentiation. This financing provides a strong foundation for Checkerspot to meet the demand for the materials it is commercializing today, as well as the demand for an innovation platform like Checkerspot’s that is capable of creating new materials and products across multiple industry segments. Checkerspot’s innovation platform allows it to address these markets more sustainably than legacy businesses reliant on petroleum and commodity-scale vegetable oils like palm and soy.
Using advanced genomics, biotechnology and biomanufacturing processes, Checkerspot’s innovation platform looks to nature’s vast array of unexplored molecular building blocks, like fatty acids and triglycerides. These compounds were overlooked because they couldn’t be supplied at scale – until now. Checkerspot works with these building blocks to develop and produce structurally unique microalgae oils at scale and then, through chemistry and materials science, rapidly iterates through specific applications to develop materials with targeted features and performance attributes. Checkerspot’s first point of entry into the market with outdoor recreation demonstrates how the company can approach product innovation with a new set of tools.
Founded in 2016, Checkerspot now has three materials on the market. These include a light-weight urethane-based composite (Algal Core) and a cast urethane (Algal Wall), both of which launched in a backcountry ski application through the outdoor recreation brand WNDR® Alpine. The Algal Core is a composite of vertically laminated materials utilizing a biobased urethane foam with a carbon content of greater than 40% (ASTM D6866). The Algal Wall cast polyurethane sidewalls are made utilizing Checkerspot’s proprietary biobased polyurethane, engineered for application-specific physical properties, including greater bondline strength, Shore D Hardness, tensile strength and improved damping. The Algal Wall, with a biobased carbon content of 60% (ASTM D6866), also utilizes a novel manufacturing technique that diverts plastic waste from landfills better than traditional techniques that rely on ABS plastic sidewalls. In partnership with Beyond Surface Technologies (BST), Checkerspot is also commercializing an algal oil formulated into BST’s wicking textile finish, MiDori® BioWick.
“We look forward to announcing additional commercial progress, including more strategic partnerships to complement our existing co-development portfolio with W.L. Gore, DIC Corporation and Beyond Surface Technologies. This financing milestone reflects what Checkerspot has accomplished to date, and the whole team is excited about this next phase and this opportunity to deepen our partnership with Viking,” said Charles Dimmler, CEO and co-founder of Checkerspot.
“We are focused on driving both scale and performance in our materials production to meet demand. Our approach to developing new materials always starts with the performance problem we are trying to solve,” said Scott Franklin, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder. “Understanding the genomics of microalgae allows us to connect the world of biotechnology to bespoke materials and high-performance consumer products. Through rapid formulation, fabrication and prototyping, we are able to dial in material performance in products in as little as 72 hours. These materials we are focusing on have wide application potential in a range of industries, and this new funding will allow us to grow our platform and expand our reach into those markets.”
Checkerspot designs performance materials at a molecular level. It does this by optimizing microbes to biomanufacture unique structural oils produced in nature, but not previously accessible at commercial scale. The company is currently commercializing three materials: a light-weight urethane-based composite (Algal Core) and a cast urethane (Algal Wall), both commercialized initially through the brand WNDR® Alpine, as well as algal oil formulated into MiDori® BioWick and sold in partnership with Beyond Surface Technologies to clothing brands worldwide. Checkerspot empowers product designers and innovators, including Beyond Surface Technologies, Gore and WNDR Alpine, with better materials to develop improved consumer and B2B applications for a post-petroleum future.