Lego family office leads funding round in medical-fish-skin business

Kerecis 'has built a successful business transforming waste material into unique medical products', says Niklas Sjöblom, senior director, long-term equity at Kirkbi.

Kirkbi, the family office that owns toymaker Lego Group, has led a $100 million financing round in a company pioneering the use of fish skin for treating burns and other forms of skin damage.

The funding round values Iceland-based Kerecis at $620 million, according to a statement. Kirkbi, investing for the first time in the company, joins existing investors: venture capital firm The Emerson Collective and two Icelandic pension funds.

Kerecis develops “medical-fish-skin” products that are used to repair or protect damaged skin. “When grafted onto damaged human tissue or implanted, the patented material recruits the body’s own cells and ultimately is converted into living tissue,” the company’s website states. Its revenue in 2021 was $35 million and it expects 2022 revenue to be “more than twice that”, the company said.

Kerecis “has built a successful business transforming waste material into unique medical products,” said Niklas Sjöblom, senior director, long-term equity at Kirkbi. “We are excited to support the company’s continued growth and strategic objectives to improve patient outcomes.”

Kirkbi’s DKr 110 billion ($15 billion; €15 billion) investment portfolio is split into two: a DKr 98 billion “core capital” portfolio of public equities, private equity, real estate and fixed income investments; and a “thematic capital” portfolio.

The aim of the thematic capital allocation, which as of December 2021 was valued at DKr 11.6 billion, is to “maximise Kirkbi’s impact and contribution towards a more sustainable development in the world”, and it is being deployed in line with four themes: energy transition, circular plastics, land sustainability and “Building Billund” (the town in Denmark where Lego was founded and is headquartered today).

Kirkbi is already an active investor in wind and solar energy generation assets, having invested in offshore wind farms off the coasts of both Germany and the UK, in 2012 and 2016 respectively, and in North American solar power operator Adapture in 2012.

More recently Kirkbi has turned its attention to its circular plastics theme: it made a minority investment in Quantafuel, a Norwegian company that converts plastic waste into synthetic fuels, in 2020. In 2021 it invested in Ambercycle, a materials science company aiming to reduce plastic waste in the fashion industry.

The least advanced of its four themes is land sustainability. “The current focus within this area is to start building capabilities and engage in investments into planting trees and establishing more forest to create a positive impact on environment, climate and biodiversity,” according to its 2021 annual report.

Kirkbi did not disclose where the investment in Kerecis fits into its portfolio.