Liatris Closes $1M Seed Round Led by MD Momentum Fund to Deliver Non-Flammable Insulation Pilot
Liatris is an Advanced Materials Startup Co-Founded by a University of Maryland, College Park Adjunct Professor
Baltimore, Md. (July 27, 2021) - Liatris Inc., a Maryland-based start-up developing advanced thermal insulation materials, announced today that it has raised a $1M seed round led by the Maryland Momentum Fund (MMF) and Old Line Capital, its first external funding round.
MMF invested $250,000 and several executives from sectors in building materials, real estate development and energy efficiency co-invested, including an accredited investor syndicate led by Propel(x), a leading deep tech angel investment platform.
Liatris will utilize the proceeds from this funding round to scale up pilot samples of its first product, a non-flammable insulation board. Liatris is developing an easy-to-install, board-based insulation that will be fully non-combustible according to the ASTM E136 standard (an industry test for materials that are required to be non-combustible). It will be made primarily using low-carbon inorganic materials.
Liatris has already demonstrated laboratory samples with the same insulation value as high-performance foam products, with R&D funding from Sto (the world’s largest supplier of exterior wall systems, which has a purchase order in place to buy future product), the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and the Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS) program.
Co-Founder Arthur Yang is an adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, which was caused in part by flammable exterior insulation and resulted in 71 deaths and more than $60 million in insurance claims, the global market for fireproof insulation has grown two times faster than the insulation market. The global market for fireproof insulation is estimated at $20 billion annually by Kenneth Research. Increasingly strict fire requirements in the International Building Code now call for fully non-combustible products in key mid-rise and high-rise building types. Substantial fire risk also exists in low-rise construction, particularly in the Western U.S., where 30 million homes with $8.5 billion replacement cost are in wildfire-prone areas.
The only fully non-combustible insulation product available today is mineral wool, which is significantly heavier and more difficult to install than foam insulation. However, petroleum-based foam products are highly flammable, and some are completely banned in markets such as China and the Middle East that have suffered from major building fires. Liatris is developing a product that seeks to combine the best characteristics of both product types.
“Maryland needs to be supporting more climate tech companies like Liatris. Liatris is creating non-flammable, environmentally friendly, easy to install insulation, and is doing so in a very thoughtful, measured way by developing partnerships with entities like Sto. I'm proud that the MMF is investing in Liatris and hope to see many more climate tech companies develop in and move to Maryland,” said Claire Johnson, the Managing Director of MMF, who is a 20+ year veteran of the energy industry and worked previously at SunEdison (co-founder), the US Department of Energy, NextStep Living and Katerra.
John Schveibinz from Old Line Capital added, “We are so pleased to be partnering with MMF and Liatris on this innovative technology. We are impressed with the management team and the potential for scale in multiple verticals including 21st century commercial and residential construction. It is exciting to see this technology coming out of the Maryland research community.”
“Liatris’s technology can be a major game-changer for advanced construction while also saving lives and reducing the occupant disruption and financial losses caused by combustible buildings,” said Frank Yang, Liatris’s co-founder and President/CEO. “We are excited to work with a knowledgeable group of investors and strategic partners that can help us develop this first product while positioning us for further enhancements.”
Founded in 2018, Liatris is an advanced materials company which is making life more affordable, comfortable and safe through management of thermal energy. We aim to deliver the cleanest and fastest energy savings by mass-producing insulation that is easy to install, economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly. In 2019, Liatris was selected as the top technology out of more than 400 entrants in Sto’s Building Materials Challenge and received both a co-development agreement and purchase order from Sto. Our patented technology aims to enable higher volume and lower cost processing of aerogel-based nanocomposites, driving continued product improvements in higher performance building insulation and high-temperature industrial insulation.
Frank Yang, CEO
About the USM Momentum Fund
The Maryland Momentum Fund is an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM) to provide late seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 constituent USM institutions, its research parks, and its students, faculty, or graduates. With a $10M commitment from the USM already in place, the Fund co-invests with venture capitalists, foundations, and angel investors.
The Maryland Momentum Fund was established by the USM Board of Regents to support promising commercial opportunities arising from advances in research and intellectual property at USM campuses, and its portfolio companies include: MF Fire, NextStep Robotics, the North American Wave Engine Corporation, Zest Tea, PaverGuide, Retrium, Veralox Therapeutics, Gemstone Biotherapeutics, Neoprogen, Minnowtech, ARMR Systems, Infercabuary, Datakwip, pathOtrak, KaloCyte, MiRecule, N5 Sensors, VisiSonics, Voxy EngGen, Dynamhex, TargetDocs, Qualytics, and Liatris. The Fund is designed to create returns and support USM’s most innovative ideas as they enter the marketplace. Learn more at https://momentum.usmd.edu/
Contact: Mike Lurie