CustoMem secures €1.4mn EU grant to accelerate commercialisation

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The novel biomaterial CGM (CustoMem Granular Media).
The novel biomaterial CGM (CustoMem Granular Media).

CustoMem has received a €1.4 million (£1.24 million) grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme that will accelerate its pilot phase and enable the UK company to bring to market its next generation granular media.

CustoMem, which was founded in 2015 by Imperial College London graduates Henrik Hagemann and Gabi Santosa, has combined its expertise in biomaterials and synthetic biology to create CGM (CustoMem Granular Media). This novel bio-adsorbent can selectively capture micropollutants, like Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) from wastewater in standard steel tank processing equipment that provides significant cost savings to customers compared with traditional adsorbent materials like anion-exchange media and granular activated carbon.

The award to CustoMem is funded through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, part of the European Innovation Council, supporting innovators and entrepreneurs. Horizon 2020 offers funding and additional support for breakthrough ideas with the potential to create new markets or revolutionise existing ones.

“This is a game-changing grant for us,” said CustoMem CEO Henrik Hagemann. “Our products’ superior performance and cost-effectiveness have been validated in our laboratory and initial trials with clients. This grant enables us to scale up to industrial pilot trials of greater than 100 m3/day flow rates.”

CGM is being targeted for use at commercial airports and petrochemical plants. CustoMem says that it is particularly relevant to navy and air force bases where Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) for firefighting are indispensable for safety reasons.

“We are already undertaking initial testing with a number of companies and organisations including two commercial European airports,” said Hagemann. “Following this EC grant we are now ready to upscale and are actively welcoming partners to trial our solution on-site.”

CustoMem is based at the Imperial College Innovation Hub in London. As part of its plans for accelerated commercialisation, the company receives mentorship from a number of specialists in its field including Dr Rita Glenne, former chief technology officer, Reactive Metal Particles AS; Dr Steve Gluck, former technology Fellow at Dow Water and Process Solutions and current scientific advisor to a number of water and wastewater companies; Dr Steve Colley, former director of Johnson Matthey Water Technologies; and Dr Tali Harif, Innovation portfolio manager at Severn Trent Water and previously head of the water treatment business unit at water and environmental consultants WRC.

Dr Gluck, who has just spent eight months working with CustoMem, said: “I am hugely impressed with the strength and the commitment which exists within this young company. CustoMem is now crystalizing its strategy and media performance for scale-up deployments.”

The CustoMem team (left to right): Henrik Hagemann, Katharina Reeh, Ben Reeve, Wen Li and Shayne Petkiewicz.
The CustoMem team (left to right): Henrik Hagemann, Katharina Reeh, Ben Reeve, Wen Li and Shayne Petkiewicz.