THE biomanufacturing company aiming to start a laboratory on the former Watchet Paper Mill site has launched a £1.25m fundraising drive this week.

Biohm Limited is looking to develop mycelium insulation panels made from mushroom roots, followed by semi-structural construction panels produced from food waste such as orange peels.

The company says it is looking to use the money to further develop its technologies and scale-up its research into ‘laboratory-grown building products’.

Biohm Limited is due to start production in Watchet in September, starting supplying insulation to around 20 homes a month, with a view to this rising to 120.

The company also has a second site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne which is scheduled to begin operations in early 2021.

Ehab Sayed, Biohm’s founder and director of innovation, said: “Our collaborations with social enterprises and local authorities put social impact at the heart of our business model through community profit share, so we can address start-up scaling challenges very effectively.

“This generates rapid growth to meet demand for our materials and will establish Biohm as a research-driven company rich in intellectual property that quickly becomes self-sustaining.”

Mr Sayed said Biohm would use the money raised in the funding drive to hire more scientists, engineers and designers to boost the research and development of its futuristic products.

The company, which specialises in ‘biomimicry’ is seeking further industry accreditations, and says reaching its £1.25m target would value the company at just under £10m.

A Biohm spokesman added: “Our aim is to tackle the scourge of consumer waste by speeding up fungi’s ability to consume plastic – with the potential to transform industry.

“Taking commercial and local-authority waste for use as raw material for our biomanufactured products would generate additional revenues.”

Last year Biohm raised almost £600,000 in collaboration with the Watchet-based Onion Collective social enterprise, through the Power to Change initiative and the Waitrose & Partners Plan Plastic Challenge.