Mar 10, 2023
Boosting production capacity and R&D to meet the growing global demand for organic superabsorbent polymers
Udaipur, India, 10 May 2023 - EF Polymer, an agritech startup developing a 100% organic superabsorbent polymer (SAP), today announced the completion of a Series A round of financing worth 33 Cr. With this new round of financing, EF Polymer aims to accelerate the growth of its business and to promote sustainable agriculture through the spread of its eco-friendly polymer. The main focus will be on expanding the polymer production capacity in India and strengthening R&D to establish a structure to meet global demand, which is expected to grow significantly in the next few years. In addition, with the increasing interest in organic polymers in sectors other than agriculture, there is a need for advancement of R&D capabilities to broaden the current product line.
What is EF Polymer?
EF Polymer's core business is the development of an organic SAP (Fasal Amrit Hydrogel) based on organic waste, such as orange peels. The Fasal Amrit Hydrogel is 100% organic and biodegradable, and when applied to farmland, it can improve the ability of soil to retain water and fertilizer. Pilot test results have shown that the use of the Fasal Amrit Hydrogel can reduce water and fertilizer usage by approximately 40% and 20%, respectively, as well as increasing crop yields by 10–15%.
As of fiscal year 2022, EF Polymer has sold a cumulative total of approximately 100 t (tonnes) of its polymer, mainly in the U.S., Indian, and Japanese markets. In the manufacturing process, it takes about 10 t of organic waste to produce one ton of polymer, meaning EF Polymer has so far upcycled 1,000 t of waste into a resource that is highly beneficial to the agricultural industry.
Narayan Lal Gurjar, Founder and CEO of EF Polymer, said, "Three years after founding EF Polymer, we have reached the milestone of selling over 100 t of our product, reaching 12,000 farmers. We are delighted to be able to contribute to solving problems faced by farmers around the world who are being affected by droughts and the rising costs of water and fertilizers. EF Polymer will continue to work together with its members in Rajasthan, India and Okinawa, Japan to develop unique products that can provide as much value to farmers as possible."
EF Polymer aims to establish a circular model in which agricultural waste products are upcycled to produce useful organic polymers. By implementing this model, the company believes it will make significant contributions to global sustainable agriculture.
Along with strengthening its polymer sales in markets such as the U.S., India, and Japan, EF Polymer plans to gradually introduce its product to new markets.
In addition, with their chemical-free and biodegradable properties, organic polymers are becoming increasingly attractive for applications other than agriculture. EF Polymer will find and promote new applications for its existing products, such as for sanitary products, diapers, ice packs, and cosmetics, by establishing collaborations with industrial partners.
Comments from investors
Wataru Mizutani, Associate, Universal Materials Incubator Co. Ltd.
“EF Polymer is a unique start-up from Japan and India that has the technology to produce fully biodegradable polymers from food residues, providing a solution to the drought and waste problems that have become more serious in recent years. The technology is also expected to lead to solutions to the decarbonization and plastics issues, and will bring new options to the materials and chemical industries, which are in need of major changes. The team is experiencing impressive growth in a short period of time, thanks to CEO Narayan's strong awareness of the issues, a vibrant team structure spanning India and Japan, and good stakeholder relations. We are very pleased to be able to accompany them in this important phase of their plans for further growth.”
Hiroki Kogai, Director, Nishimoto Co., Ltd., WBD Company
“For more than 100 years since its establishment, the Wismettac Group has been providing Japanese and Asian food globally, and as one of the leading wholesalers of imported fruits and vegetables in Japan, we have built a network of relationships with production areas around the world. We believe that working together to promote the use of absorbent polymers worldwide as a promising solution to drought and other problems is also an effort that is in line with our group's sustainable management materiality of "contributing to the global environment". In order to realize the ideal that all people involved in the world of food can lead affluent lives, which is also our Group's purpose, we will work to discover and commercialize new solutions that integrate the latest technology and real (physical) life. “
Go Fujita, Representative Director & President, MTG Ventures
Yoshinari Ito, Representative Partner, MTG Ventures
“The MTGV Fund, which aims to realize VITAL LIFE, has made an additional investment in this round, following the previous round in 2021. EF Polymer is a 100% organic super absorbent polymer from OIST, with a forward-thinking philosophy. The team is made up of strong members in Japan and India who are capable of competing on the global stage. Together with this new strong team of supporters, we will do our utmost to help realize sustainable agriculture on a global scale and accelerate the creation of new value outside of agriculture.”
Taisuke Miyazaki, Senior Research Fellow, Okinawa Development Finance Corporation
We have invested in EF Polymer because we believe that their products will contribute to solving the problems faced by farmers and water shortages around the world. We also greatly appreciate that EF Polymer has established advanced technology through research at OIST, and that the company has a strong internal and external support structure for President Narayan. We will continue to actively support EF Polymer as a start-up company from Okinawa.
Akito Arima, Partner, Beyond Next Ventures
EF Polymer is a global company that has delivered great products not only to Japan but also to India, the U.S., and other countries around the world. We hope that EF Polymer will become even more of a leading global startup and become a center of collaboration with many companies in the future!
Ryosuke Kimura, General Partner, Lifetime Ventures
We are very pleased to participate in the OIST Lifetime Ventures Fund for EF Polymer, a pioneering startup from OIST and led by an international management team that is unprecedented in the Japanese startup ecosystem to date. We will do our utmost to support the realization of innovations that reach the world from Okinawa.
About EF Polymer
EF Polymer has developed an eco-friendly, 100% organic super absorbent polymer (SAP) that is upcycled from organic waste, such as orange peels. Our SAP has attracted global attention and is being used by farmers around the world. It was founded in 2018 by then 20-year-old Indian entrepreneur Narayan Lal Gurjar in Udaipur, Rajasthan during his 2nd year of the Agriculture Engineering. EF Polymer is having it’s HQ in Okinawa, Japan where key focus is on R&D, Developing New Applications of Organic SAPs, and Global Market Expansion. Our aim is to become a viable solution to global environmental issues related to drought and waste disposal by upcycling biodegradable waste.
農業向け吸水性ポリマーを増産 EF Polymer - 日本経済新聞