Cetogenix is a ground-breaking cleantech company that launched in July this year.
Clean technology, or cleantech, is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. Cetogenix, specifically, has created technologies to divert organic wastes from landfills and other disposal routes to produce sustainable low-carbon economic alternatives to fossil-derived natural gas and materials.
We caught up with chief operations officer Alexandra Stuthridge to talk about the company’s journey thus far.
In July, you received $4.5m in seed funding. Was receiving this funding a make-or-break situation for you?
Cetogenix is undertaking leading-edge deep technology in the cleantech space. Deeptech/cleantech is expensive and requires significant capital if it is to accelerate at a pace that successfully enables impact. You can have the best idea proved at lab-scale that often never realises impact without such investment.
Proving the Cetogenix technologies (e.g., Ceto-Boost) and demonstrating them at scale are critical to commercialising the technologies into the market.
Funding also enables Cetogenix to hire critical talent and build the equipment required to support the scale-up development past the bench top.
Is what you do replicated anywhere else in New Zealand or the world?
Cetogenix technologies are unique and produce results that are critically required in some of the world’s largest markets, such as Europe (gas supply is deeply affected by the Ukrainian war), and Canada, who are leading the implementation of key sustainable goals to reduce the impact of fossil carbon and waste disposal. That said, Cetogenix technologies are extremely complimentary to the existing renewable natural gas producers across the globe, enabling the extension of their yields by up to 40% using the same feedstocks. This is a game changer for an industry that is built on older technology platforms.
What have been the challenges and highlights in getting a new business off the ground?
Cetogenix is committed to build on this opportunity from New Zealand, however, this contributes to our greatest challenge in terms of distance to our markets and translating New Zealand innovations into international markets. This tyranny of distance makes it difficult to engage with these markets and competition in attracting high-quality personnel to build capacity from a global ecosystem.
One huge highlight for us is that is has been great to bring this opportunity back to Rotorua and reshape our technologies to fit new markets. It has also been having the opportunity (and bravery) to build a business from novel science that the Cetogenix leadership team helped develop in previous roles at the Crown Research Institute, Scion, some years ago (integrated with new novel technologies) and being co-located on campus with Scion as one of Cetogenix’s key research partners.
Are you optimistic about the future of business here in Rotorua? Why or why not?
I am encouraged that Rotorua is looking to improve and is actively engaging with organisations like Cetogenix to understand business needs and how they can achieve growth for the city, and perhaps a willingness to actively support and promote a start-up community in Rotorua.
Rotorua provides many benefits, it is central to many locations, well-resourced for families and outdoors activities, including its incredible Redwoods Forest, all being key factors critical to contributing to work-life balance.
Hopefully Cetogenix can be a positive exemplar that encourages others to see it is worth pursuing deep tech start-ups in Rotorua.