It is almost taken for granted that specialty beer always tastes the same. But specialty beer brewers must make enormous efforts to continuously guarantee the same quality. As soon as a batch - a fixed quantity - of brewed barley does not meet the standards, the beer maker is forced to either get creative or throw away the batch.
Innovative breweries, such as Groningen-based Martinus, turned a batch of tripel that was not up to their standards into a tasty gin. But not every experiment is so successful. And that's when Groningen startup SG Papertronics may come into the picture.
Lab to beer instead of the other way around
SG Papertronics aims to provide on-site breweries with fast and reliable analysis of beer. Instead of bringing the beer to a laboratory, SG Papertronics brings the laboratory to the beer. What is the sugar content of the wort, a decoction of malt? Is it bitter enough? What color is it? These are some of the many parameters that can be tested with precision with SG Papertronics' Beer-o-meter. The result? An innovative specialty beer developed after much effort and passion can be brewed again with certainty, batch after batch.
Early-phase money helps Bear-o-meter
SG Papertronics has so much potential with the Beer-o-meter that NOM and the RUG Holding Company are willing to invest in the company. They are doing so with early-stage money, a form of investment at a time when the first income streams for SG Papertronics are not yet fixed. An investment at such an early stage gives SG Papertronics the opportunity to further develop the Bear-o-meter to its maximum potential. This investment also allows Richard Rushby (commerce) to come on board. Founder Maciek Grajewski: "The cooperation with him is good and there is now a balance between the technological and the business side of the company.
Minimum amount of waste
Although founded in 2016, SG Papertronics really took off from 2019 after Maciek Grajewski and Richard Rushby met at a VentureLab startup event. Within SG Papertronics, Maciek keeps the focus on the technical side, while Richard handles operations and marketing. Grajewski, a biotechnologist with a PhD from the University of Groningen (RUG), uses a (patented) concentrator that allows precise analysis to be performed on very small amounts (smaller than 1 centiliter, about a thimble full) of liquid. Beer can therefore be tested on site and, of course, the amount of waste is minimal.
Lost Polish beer is resuscitated
Grajewski and Rushby show passion in supporting breweries in developing tasty specialty beers. They are also passionate home brewers. "Maciek came to me one day and told me about a lost beer from Poland, Piwo Grodziskie," Richard says, "and he wondered if it would be possible to revive this beer using the Beer-o-meter. Grajewski adds, 'We have the recipe, but the yeast strain used has been lost over the years. Some brewers from that time are still alive and through their notes we are trying to get a picture of the brewing process of this beer.' Rushby then says, "We have begun to re-produce this beer and the Beer-o-meter is proving its worth.
Dutch brewers interested
SG Papertronics is currently working hard to further develop the Beer-o-meter. In addition, the company is in talks with a number of breweries to adapt the 'lab-on-location' to the user's needs. There are already a number of interested Dutch breweries. SG Papertronics is investigating with which breweries a pilot can be run. Grajewski: 'We want to equip the Beer-o-meter with the five most desired tests. We determine that using the feedback we get from breweries. And in addition, we want to add ten to fifteen tests that can help optimize the brewing process.'
Corina Prent, director, RUG Holding Company (RHM):
'I have known Maciek Grajewski since he started SG Papertronics. This startup has tremendous potential. And Maciek may be humble but he delivers. As a techie, he knows all too well what can go wrong, but he goes full steam ahead. That's a reason for me to invest in him in the first place. The skeleton of SG Papertronics now stands; he has managed to arrange a lot of help. Among others from EV Biotech and Promotech. It was and is a challenge. NOM also sees the potential. We are there to get things done, to invest and guide. We don't just look at finances.'
Jens Ruesink, NOM investment manager:
'Papertronics relies on an invention from within the RUG. It originally had a medical application. It was suggested to do something with it within the beer market and a prototype was developed for that purpose. Beer brewers have very expensive equipment to monitor the brewing process and for small craft brewers the Beer-o-meter is a godsend. The first findings with the device are very positive. We are now going to test it on the beer market first, but after that a lot of other markets are accessible. NOM wants to drive innovations and so we are in place here. Papertronics first has to go through a phase where no money is made yet, which is why we are providing early-stage money together with the RUG Holding Company to get through this difficult period.
In the Northern Netherlands almost no investor wants to give money at that stage. But the company has to move forward because of its immense potential. When we are six months along and the first customers show up, everyone will want to step in. But it all still has to happen.
In this white paper you will learn:
- What the innovation process looks like and what challenges you face along the way
- What opportunities there are to fund this early stage of your idea/product
- In what ways NOM as an investor can help you
Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.