Origen Air closes $1.5M seed round

First Inflection Business Advisors, one of the most prominent investors in the funding round, will also support Origen’s North American manufacturing expansion.

Origen Air, a Victoria-based cleantech company, closed its CAD $1.5 million seed round. A strategic investment from First Inflection Business Advisors (FIBA) wrapped the funding. In addition to the cash, FIBA will provide Origen Air with business advice, consulting services, and manufacturing facilities as it accelerates a North American expansion. The dollar figure for this specific investment is undisclosed.

A breath of fresh air: Origen Air provides “clean-air-as-a-service,” a clever way to say it has created hardware and software in the name of healthier breathing. Origen’s scalable fleet, the Pinnacle and the Sentinel, provide clean air for any size of commercial space at a monthly fee. The fully-automated, free-standing devices bridge the gap between high-efficiency air purifiers, modular living walls, and data-driven furniture design.

A sigh of relief: Origen Air opened their round in September with a series of investments rolling in from October through June. This ultimate investment from FIBA brought the team up to the $1.5 million marker. With the round finally over the line, co-founder and CEO Susan Blanchet is feeling justifiably accomplished — if not a tiny bit relieved. “The first one is the hardest one,” Blanchet told Victoria Tech Journal of the seed raise.

An expansion is in the air: After that initial influx of cash in September, Origen and FIBA connected in October. The latter is a Toronto-based firm that co-invests with other accelerators and funding sources in the growth of Canadian startups. Plus, FIBA provides expertise in supporting its portfolio companies’ growth and business plans.

Origen and FIBA continued their talks after that first meeting, with Blanchet making a pair of trips out to Ontario last spring. When she toured a manufacturing facility on her trip, Blanchet knew it would be a great fit. “They [already] make half of the things we need for what we do,” she happily reported back. With manufacturing settled, the expansion should be a breeze.

A wind of change: When asked what made Origen ripe for investment, George Yan – FIBA’s co-founder and COO — cited the importance placed on indoor air quality, particularly due to the pandemic. Throughout his career, Yan has seen these indoor air devices come and go. “I personally have been involved in indoor air quality projects for many years,” he tells Victoria Tech Journal. “What sets Origen Air apart from other devices on the marketplace — ones that use UV light for example — is it pairs a biological system with a mechanical system.”

For the former, Origen Air has global exclusive distribution rights to the bioengineered golden pothos ivy, which has proven adept at removing indoor air pollutants like benzene. For the latter, Origen’s Pinnacle and Sentinel devices tick the box for mechanical requirements while not sticking out in an office setting.

Closing the round will help everyone breathe easier: Blanchet with the money in the bank, Yan with a solid add to his firm’s portfolio, and office dwellers across North America enjoying fresher air.