In late April, the RAPID team attended the inaugural Chemical Ventures Conference in Wilmington, DE. The historic DuPont Experimental Station, the birthplace of many everyday products such as neoprene, nylon, and mylar, served as the venue for this exploration of the untapped potential that exists within the chemicals industry.

The conference objective was not only to promote innovation, investment and deal flow in the chemical and materials space but also to allow attendees an insiders’ look at how venture capitalists evaluate and select chemical companies for investment.

In many cases, it can be challenging for chemical startups and early stage companies to secure private investment because of the longer investment time cycle needed to bring new chemicals or materials to market. To navigate some of these challenges, the conference assembled institutional investors, angel investors, strategic partners, manufacturing institutes, and incubators along with 24 startup companies, which were selected from a large group of applicants.

The startups, which included RAPID members Compact Membrane Systems, EcoCatalytic, and Allied Microbiota, each delivered a seven minute pitch to the audience. The RAPID members presented their novel, process-intensified approaches to solve decades’ old problems such as reducing the energy demand at refineries, providing alternatives to flaring stranded natural gas, and remediation of contaminated soil. RAPID CEO, Bill Grieco, offered an overview of the Institute, its initiatives, and several examples of projects in its portfolio.

Also present was RAPID CTO Paul Yelvington, who spoke to several attendees, noting the sharing of perspectives, expertise, and strategies mutually benefited both the startups and the investors. “This event provided excellent exposure for the participating companies and helpful discussions regarding what makes a chemical or materials company attractive to investors,” said Yelvington.

Several interesting takeaways emerged from the event; namely, a number of large chemical companies have established venture arms in the last several years, many of whom were in attendance. Another takeaway was the need for discipline and patience on the part of startups and investors in the chemical and materials space as compared to, for example, the software/ app space, with its shorter life cycles and lower capital requirements.

Overall, this inaugural event was exceptionally well executed and addressed an unmet need in the chemical venturing community.

To learn more about how RAPID is supporting the growth of its startup members, contact Paul Yelvington or Rose-Marie Brandwein, Director of Membership and Marketing Communications.