A company behind innovation to create healthy forest ecosystems which support successful tree-planting has secured £370,000 in equity investment.
Edinburgh-headquartered Rhizocore Technologies produces locally adapted mycorrhizal fungi to enhance tree-planting projects, a key measure in addressing carbon sequestration. The company’s specially developed fungal pellets are used when new saplings are planted helping accelerate woodland regeneration, improve forest productivity, and increase natural capital benefits.
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. Rhizocore also participated in the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST) programme. A collaboration between Deep Science Ventures and the University of Edinburgh, FAST is supported by the University’s Data-Driven Entrepreneurship programme to work with innovative high growth start-ups operating in the agriculture sector. The initiative draws applications from around the world.
The seed investment package secured by Rhizocore includes £85K of equity funding via the Edinburgh Technology Fund (ETF) managed by the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Innovations Investment Team, and a further £85K from Deep Sciences Ventures. An additional £70K comes from climate tech investors including David Rowan with £130K investment from Nucleus Capital, specialist investors which provide finance for purpose-driven entrepreneurs tackling planetary health challenges.
The company has also secured around £180K 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 SMART:SCOTLAND grant application.
Now employing seven staff, Rhizocore will use this additional investment to scale its business across all parts of the UK where local fungi is implemented as part of its production processes. The company 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.
Rhizocore co-founder and CEO Toby 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.”
Charlotte Waugh, Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead at Edinburgh Innovations, said: “The University of Edinburgh is proud to support and invest in Rhizocore, a purpose-led business focused on maximising the impact of reforestation projects. The company’s participation in the FAST programme and further support through the Roslin Innovation Centre 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.”