Edinburgh fungi firm secures funds to support planting of millions of trees

Rhizocore Technologies produces locally adapted fungi to enhance tree-planting projects, seen as a key measure in the battle against climate change.

The company’s specially developed fungal pellets are used when new saplings are planted helping accelerate woodland regeneration and improving forest productivity.

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The seed investment package secured by the company includes £85,000 of equity funding via the Edinburgh Technology Fund (ETF), managed by the University of Edinburgh’s innovations investment team, and a further £85,000 from Deep Sciences Ventures.

The investment will help the firm scale production as it aims to support the planting of 40 million new trees across the UK every year.

An additional £70,000 comes from climate tech investors including David Rowan with £130,000 investment from Nucleus Capital, a specialist investor that provides finance for purpose-driven entrepreneurs tackling planetary health challenges.

The firm has also secured around £180,000 in additional grants from Smart:Scotland, Scottish Edge, the Forestry Commission, and Graduate Career Advantage Scotland. The University of Edinburgh assisted Rhizocore providing strategic business advice including internal and external due diligence support on its recent grant application.

Rhizocore was founded by Toby Parkes, a biology graduate from the University of Bath who also holds a PhD in biochemistry; and David Satori, a master’s degree graduate in plant and fungal taxonomy, diversity and conservation from Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The pair developed their business idea with support from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Innovation Centre. The firm also participated in the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (Fast) programme.

Now employing seven staff, Rhizocore will use the fresh investment to scale its business across all parts of the UK where local fungi is implemented as part of a production process. The firm will also invest in further “strategic partnerships” aimed at enhancing woodland ecosystems and increasing carbon sequestration from tree-planting projects.

Rhizocore is currently involved in several existing pilot projects including one with woodland regeneration charity Trees for Life in the Caledonian rainforest, and another with forestry management company Tilhill in the Scottish Borders.

Parkes said: “This latest investment will help us scale production as we aim to support the planting of 40 million new trees across the UK every year.

“The range of support we’ve had from angel investors and grant funding bodies is a real testimony to our innovative approach in addressing the challenges of successful and sustainable tree-planting by enhancing local forestry ecosystems,” he added.

Charlotte Waugh, enterprise and innovation program lead at Edinburgh Innovations, said: “The University of Edinburgh is proud to support and invest in Rhizocore, a purpose-led business focused on maximizing the impact of reforestation projects. The company’s participation in the Fast program and further support through the Roslin Innovation Center has helped Rhizocore develop its proposition where it’s now ready to scale for significant growth.

“We look forward to working with them and supporting the exciting journey that lies ahead,” she added.

The University of Edinburgh’s data-driven entrepreneurship (DDE) program is delivered by Edinburgh Innovations, working with the university’s data-driven innovation hubs to deliver the DDE programme.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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