September 2019
Vol 6 | Issue 250

Q&A with Sissi Liu of Metalmark Innovations, Inc.

CEO / Co-founder and Family Office Funding Challenge Winner

Principal Series:

Air pollution is one of the leading contemporary societal challenges. According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, air pollution results in seven million deaths and $5 trillion of lost economic value annually. This is a problem that affects us indoors and outdoors. In fact, interior air can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air (US EPA). To combat this problem, Metalmark Innovations created advanced nanostructured air cleaning materials that completely break down formaldehyde and other airborne pollutants that lead to cancer, trigger heart attacks, and cause asthma and other chronic illnesses. What’s more, our cost effective solution can be designed to destroy odors and germs. Website

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What Does Metalmark Do?

Metalmark, a Harvard spin-out, is commercializing advanced nanostructured materials that break down targeted airborne toxins and odors, instead of simply trapping or masking them. Our vision is to build a future in which clean air can truly be accessible by everyone. We are developing and scaling up our materials as a coating additive for applications on building materials and interiors of vehicles, airplanes, and much more. In addition, the material can be incorporated into air purification systems (for treating a broad range of air pollution problems) as well as into vehicles for addressing some of the key limitations of modern catalytic converters.

What Is Metalmark's Solution?

Nature presents a variety of hierarchical, super-efficient nanostructured materials exhibiting enhanced chemical activity, high strength, unique optical properties, and much more. Our inspiration came from the material structure of butterfly wings. Metalmark, a family of butterflies and our company name, pays homage to the origin of our technology. Based on this inspiration, we developed a novel type of materials and a method for making them (i.e. assembling nano- and micro-scale building blocks into highly sophisticated microstructures). It is this structuring that enables our material's superior performance, enhanced stability, and efficient material use with the combined benefit of high scalability and cost effectiveness.

What Milestones Have You Accomplished?

Since beginning our commercial development in November 2018, we have been derisking our technology with $340K of non-dilutive funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and Harvard President's Innovation Challenge. In addition, we have won awards and in-kind support from a variety of organizations and competitions. Currently, we are participating in the Plug and Play Accelerator in Silicon Valley and the Venture Incubation Program at Harvard Innovation Labs.
"We have multiple NDA customer discussions ongoing for each of our target verticals:
- Beachhead: Smart Coating - Coating additive for interior air purification
- Medium Term - Materials for air purification systems
- Long Term - Automotive catalytic converters
Each of these is a multi-billion-dollar market opportunity."

Sissi Liu of Metalmark Innovations, Inc.

Sissi Liu, CEO, is a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur. Sissi brings over 17 years of experience in business and clean-tech to Metalmark. She is a Director of the Board of Cerahelix, a ceramic membrane company, and a startup mentor at MIT. Among her professional experiences, She managed the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust’s seed-stage venture fund and led business development at Joule Unlimited, a renewable fuels company. Contact Sissi