Cagecapture GFI (1)

Focusing on a gap in the market and pivoting through pandemic challenges is paying dividends for air quality start-up CageCapture Ltd. As the UK begins to reopen workplaces and indoor public spaces, the company's innovative technology could provide improved wellbeing, peace of mind and a greener environment. Here, its co-founder and CEO Dr Ming Liu shares the business' journey and investment tips.

Tell us a bit about your business? When and why was it established, what does it offer and to whom?

Founded in 2019, CageCapture Ltd is a start-up developing advanced materials that remove pollutants from the air and is focused on improving indoor air quality. Our patented technology was discovered in 2014 by our Co-founders, Dr Ming Liu and Professor Andrew Cooper at the University of Liverpool.

How has the company developed?

CageCapture is already thinking about new markets for our technology, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), sensors, paints and coatings. We are also developing materials to address pollutants causing climate change such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

What is the ethos behind the company and has this changed or developed since you started?

CageCapture’s mission is to deliver clean air to improve health, wellbeing and the environment. We started with a focus on indoor air pollution but we are expanding our portfolio to target climate change culprits.

What’s the business’s USP?

Our cage materials remove pollutants from the air at efficiencies 500 times that of current industry standards. Technologies that address particulate matter have advanced, but those that target molecular scale pollutants haven’t kept pace. We are filling that gap.

What investment have you sourced for the business and how has this helped you to go further?

CageCapture Ltd has been supported by grant funding, most significantly an Innovate UK ICURe grant. Grant funding has supported the scale-up of our production process and development of application methods for our technology to different filter media. We are currently seeking investment to help us launch our first products to market.

What is the most important thing to remember when applying for funding/investment?

Plan ahead and get help. Funding applications are often complicated, and we have found that scheduling time to put in our best effort is essential. Also, we have attended some useful grant writing workshops that have helped us along the way. 

UMi is currently running its Go Further campaign, which celebrates organisations with the ‘foresight to inform and respond to the changing world around them’. How does your organisation fulfil this?

The pandemic closed our labs as we were in the process of scaling our material production process. This was a big challenge, but we pivoted to focus on computational material design despite a bad situation. The labs have re-opened and we’ve now scaled our processes and grown our team and capabilities.

What has been your company’s greatest achievement?

The company launched just before the outbreak of the pandemic, and subsequently faced challenges in every aspect of the business. We are proud to have adapted and responded, especially expanding our team and developing a computational materials design workflow. The in-silico development capability (the experiment is performed by a computer) has mitigated the risks caused by the pandemic, and more importantly has added huge value to our technology and business. 

What is your business’s short and long-term plans?

In the short term, we are focused on launching our air filtration product in the indoor air purification market and gaining market traction for CageCapture technology and products. In the future, we see CageCapture material growing into a technology platform that delivers tailored material solutions for environmental challenges.   

What sources of information or support would you recommend to other companies considering investment?

We have been spending more time reaching out to our community to build contacts in the Liverpool City Region. This has been really effective, and we’ve found great support networks.

A podcast we love which tells the stories of motivated and resilience entrepreneurs is NPR’s ‘How I Built This with Guy Raz’.

Key takeaways

  • By harnessing technology to perform experiments, CageCapture was able to continue its operations through the pandemic and to scale its processes for the future.
  • The company has been open to different market opportunities, starting with a focus on indoor air pollution and now also targeting climate change culprits.
  • Take advantage of support with writing funding applications and schedule focus time to work on them.
  • For help with finding the right finance for your business, try this finance, funding and grants finder tool on the new UMi platform.

Related campaign: 

The Go Further Investment Index is an opportunity to engage, showcase and celebrate progressive businesses who are pushing through and achieving their aspirations through access to investment, impactful collaborations, and the foresight to inform and respond to the changing world around them.

It is open to Northern Powerhouse and Scotland-based businesses of all sizes and from all sectors, but we are particularly interested in businesses operating within bio-science, health tech, clean energy, decarbonisation, circular economy, data and digitisation, space and satellite, tech, AI and advanced manufacturing.

For more info visit www.gofurtherindex.co.uk.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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