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Norselab adds two new investments to Meaningful Equity II fund portfolio

Published: 26 January 2024

The fund has invested in Rift Labs, a lighting company helping to increase crop yields and reduce water consumption and pesticide use, and Looping, a company tackling transport plastic packaging waste.

Norselab has invested NOK 26m (€2.3m) into Looping, a Norwegian company specialised in the production of durable and sustainable transport packaging, and NOK 45m into Rift Labs | Norselab

Norwegian impact investors Norselab have announced two new investments in their Meaningful Equity II fund.

The fund has invested NOK 26m (€2.3m), which includes a share purchase of NOK 18m (€1.6m), into Looping, a Norwegian company specialised in the production of durable and sustainable transport packaging used in construction modules, housing modules and steel containers – a sector in which Norselab says plastic is a major problem.

It has also invested NOK 45m (€3.9m), including a share purchase of NOK 30m, into Rift Labs, a Norwegian lighting company which has developed proprietary lighting technology to be used in controlled environment agriculture, a technology-based approach to food production that includes vertical farming and indoor agriculture.

Meaningful Equity II launched in 2021 as an early-stage growth-focused fund investing in companies with a net positive impact in global industries. Impact Investor reported last year on its investment in Beefutures, a biotech firm focused on optimising beekeeping and pollination. These latest investments bring the portfolio to four holdings.

The fund follows the company’s meaningfulness philosophy which is based on product-driven impact, net-positive impact, and impact ‘where it’s urgent’, which describes Norselab’s desire to focus its investments in industries where it sees a great need for transformation.

Meaningful Equity II fund aims to raise €150m and invest in a concentrated portfolio of less than 10 companies mainly from the Nordics. Norselab would not be drawn on how much it has raised to date.  

Plastic circularity

Looping was founded in Norway in 2017 by CEO Jens Brustad and in the same year developed its first product series Modulcover offering reusable protective covers for contractor modules, housing modules and steel modules.

The company’s business model is centred on ‘reuse as a service’ with the aim of making circular packaging a more cost efficient choice. It says it can save companies up to 75% of time spent on packaging and disassembly and eliminate the use of disposable plastic.

So far, Looping claims to have eliminated 100 tonnes of single-use plastic from the construction industry and has partnered with large industrial actors, like equipment rental companies Ramirent and Cramo Group, to do so.

Speaking to Impact Investor, Yngve Tvedt, founder and CEO of Norselab, said: “Plastics are highly versatile but persistently problematic, threatening ecosystems due to inadequate recycling and management. Global action is crucial to address the rise in virgin plastic production by 2040, with mismanaged plastic levels likely to double without intervention.”

Yngve Tvedt, founder and CEO for Norselab | Norselab

Tvedt said the construction sector was the second-largest consumer of plastic resins worldwide, utilising plastics mainly for construction components, which is why the solutions offered by Looping caught their eye.

“Looping has established framework agreements with all the major equipment and rental companies in the Nordic construction industry and is in an excellent position to expand into other industries and international markets, making it an attractive investment both commercially and in terms of impact potential,” he added.

Looping raised a total of NOK 23m in fresh capital, including from other investors, and Brustad said the company would use the investment to expand into the European market as well as on product development and to improve the composition of its material.

“The goal is to double the lifespan of our products, and come as close as possible to a mono material. By doing this we will increase utilisation, and better facilitate for end-of-life recycling,” said Brustad.

Controlled environment agriculture

Rift Labs was founded in Norway in 2010 by the company’s chief information officer Morten Hjerde to reinvent lighting for the photo and video industry. In 2022, it launched the Photosynthetic brand which applies the company’s LED software and smart lighting control applications to the field of indoor farming. The aim is to increase crop yields in controlled environmental agriculture (CEA), whilst reducing water consumption, pesticides as well as the impact on land degradation and biodiversity compared with traditional agriculture.

Norselab said it believed Rift Labs could take a leading position in CEA in the coming years. 

“Agriculture is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and freshwater consumption. Simultaneously, the world needs a dramatic increase in food production to eliminate hunger while keeping up with population growth. To avoid worsening the nature crisis, increased food production needs to be fuelled by increased yield, not land expansion,” said Tvedt. “Rift Labs caught our attention with its proven technology and a visionary team with a commitment to create positive impact through their innovative, technology-leading LED light solutions.”

Halvard Aagard, CEO of Rift Labs, said the investment was critical to the company’s development.

“[The investment] will be used to ramp up our R&D activities and commercialisation of our Photosynthetic line of products targeting the indoor agriculture segment,” he added.

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