Green hydrogen startup Versogen raises $14.5m
NEWARK- versogenica startup born from the work of a University of Delaware professor who seeks to build scalable “green” hydrogen production, recently landed its first round of funding from investors, raising $14.5 million.
Now based in Delaware Innovation Space on the DuPont Experimental Station, Versogen has developed a commercial version of its electrolyzer, which separates hydrogen and oxygen from water and does not produce harmful carbon dioxide byproduct. The company aims to decarbonize heavy and hard-to-reduce industries with its technology by powering electrolysis with renewable energy from wind or solar farms.
Yushan Yan, Henry B. du Pont Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, founded Versogen, originally known as W7Energyin 2018 after working for more than 20 years on the development of fuel cell technology.
As its work progressed, the company began work a year ago on its Series A fundraiser to support the development of its prototype electrolyzers and expand production of their anion exchange membranes. patented, Yan said.
It snagged $14.5 million, led by Boston-based hydrogen power company HyAxiom, a subsidiary of Korean conglomerate Doosan Corp. Other investors include Wilmington-based chemical company Chemours; TechEnergy Ventures, a venture capital arm of Argentinian conglomerate Technit; Wenstone H2Tech LLC, a newly formed company; TOP Ventures America LLC, a Baltimore-based hydraulic equipment manufacturer; an investment arm of Thai Oil Public Company Limited, Thailand’s largest oil producer; DSC Investment, a Korean investment fund; and CN Innovations Investments Limited, the investment arm of a Hong Kong technology company.
Last year, Yan said Versogen aimed to raise $10 million in its Series A round, but was able to oversubscribe the round by almost 50%.
“We have had very strong interest from many investors. In the end, we had to make room for some of them to come in, which is good,” he said.
For Delaware, the inclusion of Chemours, which operates its Discovery Hub on the UD STAR campus, was particularly notable, as the state-owned chemical company seeks to invest in next-generation technologies being developed nearby.
“Chemours is passionate about the potential of the hydrogen economy and our role in it, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to accelerate innovation and new technologies for clean energy,” said Denise Dignam, President of Advanced Performance Materials for Chemours, in an investment statement. “We are excited to participate in Versogen to help fuel their continued scale and to have the opportunity to collaborate with a start-up in our backyard to better understand the synergies between AEM technology and our membranes. Nafion ion exchangers in the production of green hydrogen.”
Versogen will use the majority of the proceeds from the investment to advance its prototypes of its electrolyser unit, but some will also increase its production of its polymer membranes, the most integral part of the larger equipment, Yan said. To do this, Yan said they plan to grow the company from 17 to 30 employees.
The company aims to complete its prototype electrolyser unit in 2024, at which time it would then test its efficiency and, if successful, seek to launch a B-series to begin manufacturing additional units.
To date, Versogen’s technology has landed a $3.4 million research grant from the US Department of Energy, a $100,000 EDGE grant and $1 million private investment, as well as other smaller grants. They’ve also secured half a dozen technology-related patents and worked to build their capacity to manufacture their new membrane at their home in the Delaware Innovation Space.