Sicona Battery Technologies Pty Ltd (“Sicona”), a groundbreaking battery materials technology company, has successfully raised AU$3.7 million in a pre-Series A funding round.
The funding round was led by global venture firm Artesian and US based Riverstone Ventures an affiliate of Riverstone Holdings with notable participation by Chaos Ventures (New York), Bandera Capital (Australia), SDGx Ventures (Singapore), and several prominent Australian climate-tech investors and global battery materials specialists.
This latest capital injection follows the company’s $1m seed round in July 2020, the award of a $704k ‘Accelerating Commercialisation’ Grant by the Australian Federal Government in November 2020, and Sicona’s participation in the prestigious Startmate accelerator in its Summer 2021 climate technology cohort.
Sicona, founded in June 2019 by experienced entrepreneur, Christiaan Jordaan, and Andrew Minett, a highly credentialed materials scientist, is developing next-generation battery technology used in the anodes (negative electrodes) of lithium-ion (“Li-ion”) batteries that enables electric mobility.
Sicona is commercialising innovative silicon-graphite composite battery anode and binder process technology and materials, developed and perfected over the last ten years at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) at the University of Wollongong.
Sicona’s current generation silicon-graphite composite anode materials deliver 50% to 100% higher capacity than conventional “graphite-only” materials and as a result, its cell producer customers can unlock more than 50% higher cell energy density than current Li-ion batteries thereby increasing electric vehicle range whilst reducing the cost and the time it takes to charge.
According to a recent report prepared by Accenture for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC), of which Sicona is an associate participant, diversified battery industries could contribute $7.4 billion annually to Australia’s economy and support 34,700 jobs by 2030.
One of the six opportunities identified in the report for Australia to expand its presence across the battery value chain is the establishment of “active materials manufacturing capability to serve the global value chain”. This is where Sicona comes into play with its plans to establish domestic commercial-scale advanced manufacturing of its next-generation active anode materials.
The global lithium battery opportunity is growing rapidly with more than 4TWh (equivalent to 4,000 gigawatt sized factories) of announced cell production requiring in excess of four million tonnes of anode materials per annum.
From its Australian base, Sicona also has its eyes firmly set on deploying commercial-scale production plants in Europe and North America.
Sicona founder and CEO, Christiaan Jordaan said: “The energy density of current lithium-ion batteries is limiting performance, resulting in multiple issues including higher upfront costs and lower range for electric vehicles. It is our mission to provide scalable next-generation materials at an affordable cost to our customers.
Sicona’s unique silicon-graphite anode products solve the technical challenges experienced by using silicon in a battery but at a fraction of the cost of competing approaches due to our simple and scalable production process.
We are taking multiple products to market, including the binder system, conductive carbons and active anode materials. Furthermore, we are solving key supply chain issues by taking a leading role in deploying our technology in Australia, Europe, and North America, thereby disrupting the Chinese concentrated supply chain.
We are extremely grateful for the support from our growing international investor base. Our next milestone is the commissioning of Sicona’s pilot production plant at our site in Wollongong and leveraging its larger-scale production capacity to qualify our materials with global battery producers and conduct larger-scale battery testing programs.”
Alexandra Clunies-Ross, Artesian cleantech portfolio manager commented: “From the onset, we were very impressed by the Sicona team’s combination of technical and commercial acumen, their clear understanding of the battery materials market and supply chains, and the challenges to scaling new materials technologies from the laboratory into commercial production. We are impressed with their fast growth and are pleased to continue supporting Christiaan, Andrew, and the Sicona team.“
Kevin Wang, Vice President at Riverstone Holdings said: “We are excited to support Sicona with this funding round as it is looking to scale its ground-breaking battery materials technology and leverage its successes into the fast-growing markets developing for lithium-ion batteries in Europe and the United States.”
Zarmeen Pavri, Partner at SDGx Ventures: “At SDGx, we invest in deep tech companies that have the potential to create a meaningful and measurable impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions whilst scaling up to transform the largest industries in the world. Sicona clearly has that potential.”