VSParticle raises €6.5 million to power material discovery for a greener future

VSParticle (VSP) - the leading supplier of nanoparticle synthesis and deposition tools - has raised a €6.5 million A2 extension round led by NordicNinja and previous investor Plural to continue its mission to unlock a century of material innovation in the next 10 years.  

VSP’s revolutionary technology enables materials to be broken down to the size of nanoparticles and produced at the push of a button, allowing university researchers and commercial R&D teams to experiment to create new materials that will power next-generation products. It can take up to 10 years to discover new materials in a lab and a further five to bring them to mass production, but VSP’s technology is supporting teams to reduce the overall time of material discovery down to only one year.  

“Our technology is empowering university researchers and commercial R&D teams across the world to create new materials that will transform the production of green hydrogen and reduce emissions in carbon-intensive industries. We’re excited about the role VSParticle will play in tackling the climate crisis and we’re delighted to have the backing of NordicNinja and renewed support from Plural as part of this extension funding that will help us to reach more research teams across the world, including in Japan, to pave a new way for material discovery.” - Aaike van Vugt, co-founder and CEO of VSParticle

VSParticle has shipped its flagship product, the VSP-P1 Nanoprinter, to teams across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America including the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, the San Francisco-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Materials Discovery Research Institute (MDRI) in Chicago area, and the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research over the past year, who are using it to accelerate material development for innovative industrial solutions.

In particular, VSP’s technology is enabling the mass production of catalyst-coated Porous Transport Layers (PTLs), which are the key components in electrolyzers and are essential to the production of green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is essential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and power a more sustainable future for industries such as shipping, transport, heating, and aviation, yet the process currently relies on using scarce resources including platinum and iridium.

 “The collaboration with VSParticle aligns perfectly with DIFFER’s strategy to extend its national role in building the infrastructure ‘materials4energy’. With VSP-P1 Nanoprinter, we aim to accelerate material development for energy applications and reinforce the Netherlands' leadership in sustainable energy research."  - Süleyman Er, Department Head and Group Leader at DIFFER

Customers are using VSP printers to develop new material combinations for PTLs, with a predicted 10x savings in scarce metals, such as iridium, and introduce new products faster and cheaper. By 2027, the first components that have been developed using VSP’s technology should be in the market, creating the end product that will support green hydrogen production. This will support global net zero goals - the IEA estimates that the world will need to produce 306 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, with the EU and Japan, in particular, focusing on prioritizing this clean energy source.

“VSParticle’s technology is transforming material innovation and, combined with AI, this will be the basis of world-changing discovery and synthesis over the next decades. We’re delighted to be supporting the impressive VSP team in this extension round, particularly with their Japanese expansion plans to capitalize on the drive to scale the development of green hydrogen. We can’t wait to see what they achieve next.” Rainer Sternfeld, Partner at NordicNinja

VSP empowers R&D teams in labs today and its future-proof technology positions it at the forefront of the self-driving lab revolution. An increasing number of VSP customers are pioneering autonomous labs that integrate robotics, AI, and high-throughput material synthesis to accelerate ground-breaking discoveries crucial for addressing urgent global challenges like sustainable energy. VSP's advanced technology ensures top-tier material synthesis, paving the way for future innovations in nanotechnology and novel materials for the energy sector.

The new funding, which included participation from previous investor Hermann Hauser Investment, brings the total raised by VSParticle to €24.5 million. The new investment will be used to further the development of VSP’s technology so its next-generation printers have up to 100 times higher output and will also support the company in expanding to Japan and doubling down in the US and Europe.

“Material discovery has always been extremely important in science but over the past 12 months, the world has woken up to the need to speed up innovation so we can find the solutions to global challenges, including decarbonizing society. VSParticle is the only company that is driving discovery at the critical early levels so teams can scale experimentation and development of next-generation materials. This technology is already making a difference to teams in Europe and the US, particularly when it comes to enabling AI-driven automation of material discovery and we look forward to working closely with Aaike and the team as they continue to expand.” - Sten Tamkivi, partner at Plural

About VSParticle:  

VSParticle was founded in Delft, the Netherlands in 2014 to accelerate material development to power next-generation products and unlock innovation at scale. Its technology connects and accelerates all three steps of the material innovation process - bridging trial and error in the lab, production process optimization and scaling towards mass production. University researchers, commercial R&D teams and soon, industrial production plants, across Europe, China, India and the US rely on VSP’s technology to develop next-generation gas sensors and catalyst-coated membranes (CCMs) for green hydrogen. This is all part of VSP’s mission to deliver a century of material innovation in a decade, tackle the climate crisis and enable a more sustainable future. 

About NordicNinja:  

NordicNinja is a founder and operator-led VC fund focused on deeptech, climate tech, and digital society solutions, helping world-beating teams solve society’s hardest problems. Headquartered in London and founded as a Japanese-European joint venture, NordicNinja is the largest Japanese-backed VC in Europe, managed by Rainer Sternfeld, Tomosaku Sohara, Marek Kiisa, and Shinichi Nikkuni, combining European founders and innovations with Japan’s hunger for digital innovation. All underpinned by the urgent need to build a more equitable, more sustainable future for all.

About Plural:  

Plural is an early-stage investment fund that backs the most ambitious founders on a mission to change the world through technology. Plural launched in June 2022 with the aim to give serious founders in Europe investors with experience to match their ambition. Based in Tallinn, Estonia, and London, UK, Plural’s mission is to have GDP-level impact on Europe, address systemic risks and reduce the opportunity gap worldwide through the companies it backs.