EuroTech Innovators: beworm

beworm in a nutshell

Location: Munich, Germany

Status: Getting incorporated

Beworm develops a biocatalytic recycling process for polyethylene, the world’s most used plastic material. We isolated plastic attacking bacteria that produce enzymes that can split plastic molecules into virgin-like raw materials. The outcome from the process can then be separated from toxic additives and reused as raw materials to produce new plastics, biofuels, or other chemicals. These can substitute fossil fuels as input feedstock and close the loop of plastics production.

How much CO2 emissions can your solution save?

We believe that raw material recycling coming from biocatalytic technologies can make up 17% of the EU plastic production. This means that it can decrease help produce 9.5 million tonnes of plastic which would not be reliant on fossil fuel mining.

Moreover, the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of European plastics production, from fossil fuel extraction to resin production, is estimated at 140 Mt CO2 or 3% of the total GHG European emissions. If 17% of the plastic production comes from raw material recycling it means that we could save up to 24Mt CO2 a year in the EU.

Does your solution depend on suppliers from outside Europe?

Our solution will not be dependent on sub-suppliers from outside the EU as it would help address the EU plastic waste and can rely entirely on EU technologies and partners to be manufactured and to get its own material needs (i.e. enzymes) to function.

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The 4-member founding team combines several years of product development experience in engineering and design, biology but also finance and start-up management. With this complementary set-up this research-based project shall be turned into a marketable technology.

Eleonore Eisath

Eleonore Eisath accomplished her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design at the IUAV in Venice in 2014. She gained work experience in Italy, Australia and Germany before completing her studies with an Industrial Design Master at Technical University of Munich (TUM) in 2019. In her Master’s Thesis “Rethinking plastics - Biotic Degradation as a Recycling Strategy”, she looked at the social, technical and environmental conditions that such an innovative technology would have to face. With the results of the thesis, she participated in the Biomimetic Idea Competition, won the first prize and founded beworm. She manages the team, talks to partners and customers, designs the communication channels, and works on the strategy.

Stefan Szalay

Stefan Szalay studied electrical engineering and information technology at the TUM, graduating in 2003. After nine years of working as a freelance developer of software, web applications, microcontroller circuits and firmware he studied biology and completed his Master’s degree in 2019. He and Eleonore met in the Bio.Kitchen (a startup lab) and decided to team up in the fight against plastics pollution. At beworm, he is responsible for technical and experimental development, setup and analytics.

Verena Wolfarth

Verena Wolfarth completed her Bachelor degree in biology at the University of Hohenheim in 2019 and her Master degree in biology at the Technical University of Munich. The topic of her master thesis was the identification of enzymes connected to polyethylene degradation through metatranscriptomic data. The work of her master thesis lays the foundation for the current research projects under Beworm. Since she joined Beworm in February 2020 as a third founder, she brings in her microbiology expertise to the design, planning and execution of the experiments.

Soukaina Mahfoud

Soukaina Mahfoud is an experienced finance executive and holds a master’s degree in management Control from HEC Montreal and is a CFA charter holder. She worked in capital markets for 3 years before joining a publicly listed start-up company for close to 4 years as Finance Director. She currently runs the finance department for a mid-size market company. Within Beworm, Souky brings significant support to Eleonore in terms of business development and market fit but also ensures that plans are financially sound.