Kiwi biofuels startup Vertus Energy raises NZ$1.2 million in a pre-seed round

- October 27, 2021 2 MIN READ
Vertus Energy
Vertus Energy co-founders Santiago de los Reyes, Dr Danilo Perez, Benjamin Howard and Freddy Gonzales.
New Zealand climate tech startup Vertus Energy has raised $1.2 million in a pre-seed funding round for its green fuel production technology.

The round was led by Icehouse Ventures with support from NZ deep tech hub Outset Ventures, Startmate, and NOAB Ventures. The The new funds will enable Vertus Energy to expand its field pilots, making green fuel from waste in a process it’s called BRIO.

The BRIO technology processes waste three times faster and produces 60% more energy than rival systems. It sits inside an anaerobic digester, which converts the methane released from sludge, manure and other organic waste into renewable energy.

The first BRIO demonstration plant is due to come online on a South Auckland farm early next year, with researchers engaged to review and validate the BRIO process before it goes into commercial production. If the company’s estimates are correct, the Vertus solution could ramp up biofuel production in anaerobic digester systems by increasing methane yield from 50% to 80% as a fossil gas replacement.

Vertus Energy co-founder and COO Benjamin Howard said they’d already had promising early discussions with some of the largest anaerobic digester operators in the US, Latin America and Europe about his solution.

“Our aim is to be one of the biggest contributors to the world’s transition to green energy and conquering climate change,” he said.

“We want to play an active role in making fossil gas extinct.”

Howard said he was proud to have the idea backed by such prominent investors in his startup’s early stage.

“Icehouse Ventures instantly believed in what we were doing and in our vision for the future,” he said.

“Their connections allowed us to bring together a number of highly valuable investors such as Startmate and NOAB Ventures’ John Wood, who brings 30+ years of experience in stewarding high growth companies in the energy sector.”

Icehouse Ventures partner Barnaby Marshall said Vertus is poised to make a huge impact on the climate fight.

“The founders demonstrate outstanding courage and commitment to transitioning the planet to biofuels and we are proud to be backing them,” he said.

The venture’s four co-founders: entrepreneur Santiago de los Reyes; mechanical engineer Freddy Gonzales; and biotechnology engineer Dr Danilo Perez, who’s been at the forefront of methane microbial research for over a decade, along with Howard, are recent alumni of the Startmate accelerator programme.

The company will move into the purpose-based workshop and laboratory facilities at Outset Ventures once Auckland’s lockdown restrictions ease.

Analysis suggests that the global bioenergy market could be worth more than A$600 billion by 2027.

The Brio process explained