A Kiwi deep tech startup helping produce green hydrogen launches with NZ$2.5 million Seed round

- April 14, 2023 2 MIN READ
Bspkl. Christina Houlihan Jerome Leveneur
Bspkl cofounders Jerome Leveneur and Christina Houlihan
A New Zealand deep tech manufacturing startup helping produce cleaner hydrogen with fewer precious metals has raised NZ$2.5 million (A$2.3m) in a Seed round.

Bspkl has developed a new, more sustainable way to produce catalyst coated membranes (CCMs) for the hydrogen industry.

CCMs typically use platinum and iridium in solid membranes to maximise hydrogen production. Electrolysis as water is passed through the CCM breaks the molecules into oxygen, protons and electrons.

Bspkl’s technology reduces the amount of the precious metals required by a factor of up to 25 times to produce a CCM.

The raise led by Kiwi deep tech investor WNT Ventures, supported Sydney VC Investible. The round includes a $750,000 repayable grant from Callaghan Innovation’s Technology Incubator Program.

Bspkl is the first spin-out company from the Kiwi Crown Research Institute at GNS Science, a veteran energy and environment sciences focused company.

The technology used was invented by Jérôme Leveneur while he was at GNS Science, completely reinventing how an essential component of a hydrogen electrolyser catalyst coated membrane can be manufactured. He’s now cofounder and CTO of Bspkl,

“We have been working for the last decade on bringing this research to life, and we can see how it will help bring manufacturing into a more sustainable future,” he said.

The funding will help the company through the next 18–24 months of R&D towards commercialisation.

“We have a bold vision for the future of hydrogen production, and this capital round will support making that vision a reality,” Leveneur said.

His cofounder and CEO, Christina Houlihan said the availability and price of iridium poses a significant problem to the growth of the hydrogen industry.

“We are very proud to be launching the company and completing our Seed round, this funding will support our New Zealand testing in preparation for product development and launch to the global community of electrolyser manufacturers,” she said.

“Bspkl has solved a huge challenge for the hydrogen electrolyser industry. We’ve cracked the iridium problem and we know how to manufacture it at scale, we are excited to bring this product to the electrolyser manufacturing market.”

GNS Science interim CEO Peter Benfell said the company will assist with research and collaboration as Bspkl takes its product to market.

“GNS Science will play a major role in enabling New Zealand’s transition to a carbon-zero future, and Bspkl is a brilliant example of the impact our green hydrogen programme of work is generating,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing Bspkl. help accelerate the transition to a green economy, and to continued research collaboration with Jerome and the team at Bspkl.”