ETH spin-off rrreefs closes pre-seed financing round

Zurich-based startup rrreefs, focused on regenerating degraded coral reefs with modular reef structures, has raised a total of CHF 420’000 in its first investment round from multiple investors. The funds will facilitate scaling up operations globally.

By 2050, it is projected that more than 90% of coral reefs will have perished. Despite their significant social and ecological value such as supporting biodiversity, safeguarding coastlines, providing food resources, and boosting tourism, coral reefs stand out as highly vulnerable ecosystems on earth.

Combining science with technology and artistic vision, the female-founded startup rrreefs has developed a solution to regenerate degraded coral reefs with a modular, 3D printed reef system made of clay. By using a unique system of interlocking 3D-printed clay bricks that create complex habitats, rrreefs aims to rebuild 1% of coral reefs protecting coastlines in the next ten years.

Defying the ongoing effects of climate change, the reef structures have been proven to successfully promote coral settlement and growth, evolving to self-sustaining reef habitats that provide a new home for an abundance of marine life. Current project sites include Colombia, the British Virgin Islands and the Philippines with a new site being installed in Ecuador at the beginning of May 2024.

According to the startup, there is a growing understanding of the interconnectedness between biodiversity, climate change, and economic stability among investors – this could have been the motivating factor for them to invest in the startup.

After an initial CHF 50’000 convertible loan from Venture Kick, rrreefs has now closed its pre-seed round with another CHF 420’000. The ETH Foundation, Swisspreneur, S2S Ventures, as well as various angel investors participated in the investment round to enable the startup scale its production and installation capacities globally.

“Securing our first investment round to scale up our activities to regenerate degraded coral reefs is a considerable achievement for us. It’s great to see that biodiversity no longer remains on the sidelines when it comes to funding climate action. This investment builds the foundation to scale up our production and installation capacities across the globe. Time is running out to protect our coral reefs. Now we are one step closer to slowing down the rate of degradation”, says Dr. Ulrike Pfreundt, Co-CEO & Co-Founder of rrreefs.

The startup was founded as an association in 2021 and after generating its first revenue from corporate clients sponsoring reef regeneration projects, it transformed into a limited company (AG) at the beginning of this year. United by their passion for the ocean, the four female co-founders – Dr. Ulrike Pfreundt, Marie Griesmar, Hanna Kuhfuss and Josephine Graf – combine expertise in science, arts and business.

Photo at bottom: Regenerating 100 m2 of coral reef in Pujada Bay, Philippines with rreefs solution

(Press release/RAN)