Hot seat: Kristians Grundstoks

Last updated on: 16 Dec, 2020

PolyLabs is manufacturing bio polyol – a polyol synthesized from renewable materials, such as rapeseed or tall oils. What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?

Renewable resources have become a modern trend during the past decade. The bio polyol market is growing faster than the overall polyol market growth. That shows there is a lot of interest in the bio polyol market. However, bio-based products are almost always more expensive. This is called the “green premium” in the industry. Nobody wants to pay a green premium in this price-sensitive market. The “green premium” and the low crude oil price limits the full potential of the bio-based polyol market. The industry cannot satisfy a growing market demand for a reasonably priced bio-based product. Until now.

Polylabs’ bio-based polyols are based on clean wasteless technology that allows us to compete with petrochemical polyols, and their price is well below other bio-based polyols – so no “green premium” here.

Our customers get the bio-based product advantages such as independence from crude oil prices, high renewable content (up to 83%), reduced CO2 footprint, eco certification compliance and more.

Besides the bio-based product advantages there are even some technical advantages of using our bio polyols as well, such as added hydrophobic character to the PU foam, autocatalytic nature allowing up to 50% savings in catalysts in spray systems, and excellent miscibility with pentanes helping to solve separation issues.

And they get these benefits at the same price level as the crude-oil-based polyols. I think it is as good a deal as it can ever get.

What are the key opportunities and challenges your company faces at present?

The biggest challenge for us at first was to get our first customers. As a rather new company with an innovative product you need to be able to prove your advantages and product value, and that takes some time. The second you get one or two customers, everybody else follows. We are now at that point where everybody else is following. It feels great. So we are seeing a challenge to scale our production capacity in the next few years. We are now working on installing new production equipment to expand our product portfolio.

Are there any new technology developments that you are working on at the moment? Can you tell us more about them?

We are now scaling up a new product based on recycled plastic. Plastic waste is not only a very serious waste problem worldwide, but it is also a very high potential raw material source. We have been working on this product for 2 years now. We have been successful on a lab scale and semi industrial scale. Now we are installing equipment for a demos scale facility. We will be able to produce up to 1000 t p.a. as a demo & testing scale. First samples have already been tested by interested customers. Besides that we are working on next generation bio based polyols coming from the wood industry.

Kristians Grundstoks has a background in law. He has held positions as a lawyer and head of divisions in law firms, as well as in the State forensic science bureau and insurance industry. After realising law was not challenging enough, inspired by his hobby wave surfing, Grundstoks turned to innovative product commercialisation projects. He founded Polylabs in 2014 in Riga and has been CEO of the company ever since.