5 precision fermentation startups that have closed major funding rounds

As the precision-fermentation sector continues to grow, it is increasingly attracting interest from investors, founders, and entrepreneurs. Startups are closing major rounds in the field and potential release dates for precision-fermentation-derived products are creeping closer. Ahead of the webinar we’re hosting on this topic, which takes place on 31 March, we’ve assembled a list of the top five players in the field.

Precision fermentation is one of the hottest trends in food tech this year. The technology allows bold and creative entrepreneurs to develop animal-free versions of cheese, ice-cream, honey, meat, and other well-loved foods.

The key here is that the resulting products are molecularly identical to their animal-based counterparts, rather than being, for example, plant-based alternatives. What’s more, investors love this space. An increasing number of precision-fermentation startups are closing big funding rounds and using the resulting  investment to create truly exciting products.

What is precision fermentation?

Precision fermentation allows food scientists to program microorganisms to produce organic molecules such as protein. The process uses microbial hosts as tiny – but extremely efficient – cell factories for creating the desired ingredients.  

Significantly, the final products developed from precision fermentation are identical to animal-based ones. This is one of the main reasons why the technology is attracting so much attention. 

Founding team of precision fermentation startup Formo
Founding team of precision fermentation startup Formo

The next webinar in our Future Food Series, presented in partnership with the food-tech fund Zintinus,  explores the topic of precision fermentation. We’ve already got an exciting panel of speakers lined up who will be taking a deep dive into the whats, hows, and wheres of fermentation food-tech.

You can sign up for free on our Eventbrite page. The event takes place on 31 March. In the meantime, let’s take a look at five of the major players in this arena.

The EVERY Company: scaling to drive adoption

At the end of 2021, the Every Company closed an oversubscribed Series C round of $175 million. The investment was co-led by new investor McWin and established investment outfit Rage Capital.

To date, the Every Company (formerly known as Clara Foods) has raised $233 million in capital. The food-tech company has developed a unique precision-fermentation technology to develop animal-free proteins such as eggs.

Worldwide, domesticated birds produce more than 1.3 trillion eggs annually for human consumption. This is something that the Every Company wants to change. Founder and CEO Arturo Elizondo said that his team is “focused on scaling to drive adoption”. 

Formo: creating nature-identical dairy products

An alumnus of the ProVeg Incubator, Formo is a fermentation food-tech company based in Berlin. The startup, led by founders Raffael Wohlgensinger and Dr Britta Winterberg, are working on animal-free cheese.

In 2021, the company, which started out as Legendairy Foods, raised $50 million. To date, this is the largest Series-A funding round for a European food-tech startup.

“Formo domesticates microorganisms instead of cows, using precision fermentation to create nature-identical dairy products”, said Raffael. “Formo’s cheeses have the same taste, texture, and functional properties as animal-derived cheeses, but come at a substantially lower cost for the environment, human health, and animal welfare. 

Precision fermentation Food-tech successes the every company
Arturo Elizondo in EVERY HQ Kitchen

“With microorganisms being up to 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feed into food, Formo can already undercut conventional products at a commercial-production scale.“

Indeed, just last month, Formo, in partnership with Mercy For Animals and Fordham University, released the results of a study that shows consumers “are ready” for animal-free dairy.

According to the report, perceptions of precision fermentation were generally positive. However, one of the key challenges for the burgeoning sector will be consumer education.

Better Dairy: tackling the hard-cheese challenge

While many companies are developing softer cheeses such as mozzarella, Better Dairy is targeting hard cheeses – and has just raised $22 million to do so. 

Jevan Nagarajah founded Better Dairy in the UK in 2019, having previously raised  £1.6 million in seed funding. Like most of the other companies on this list, Better Dairy uses precision-fermentation technology to develop animal-free dairy products. Jevan likens the process to brewing beer, except with the end result being dairy.

According to an article by TechCrunch, Better Dairy is now working on the science to nail down texture and then the maturation of its products, “so that all of the components can come together under one product that has a shelf life”.

Remilk: the ingredient angle

Another alumnus of the ProVeg Incubator, Remilk is an Israeli food-tech startup that has raised a whopping $120 million to scale the production of its animal-free cheese. The funding round was led by NY-based Hanaco Ventures and is helping Remilk to get ready to enter the market as an ingredient provider. Co-founder Aviv Wolff said that the company was talking with “dozens of companies” about using animal-free-dairy proteins in their products..

Remilk, which previously raised $11.3 million in a Series-A funding round, has now been valued at $325 million – that’s ten times what they were worth a year ago!

Change Foods:  delivering indulgent taste

Change Foods is an Australian company now based in the US. The startup is dedicated to creating casein protein – which gives cheese its trademark stretch – using precision fermentation.

Better Dairy uses precision-fermentation technology to develop animal-free dairy products.
Better Dairy uses precision-fermentation technology to develop animal-free dairy products.

“Our mission is to transform the global cheese business with new products that deliver the indulgent taste and eating experience of traditional animal-derived products, but without the detrimental impacts of industrialised animal agriculture,” said Founder and CEO David Bucca. 

Change Foods recently raised $15.3 million in a funding round led by Route 66 Ventures. At the same time, the company also announced two new strategic-collaboration agreements to accelerate product development and scaling. One is with plant-based-spread giant Upfield, and the other is with international cheese maker Sigma.

Future Food Series: Precision Fermentation

If you’re interested in delving deeper into the topic of precision fermentation, remember to sign up for our webinar. Our guest speakers include:

  • Dr Jeremy Chignell, Senior Fermentation Scientist at BIO-CAT Microbials
  • Eva Sommer, Founder and CEO of Fermify
  • Ahmed Khan, Founder and Editor of CellAgri
  • Dr Hannah Lester, CEO and Principal Consultant at Amgen Regulatory Consulting

ProVeg Incubator and Zintinus are hosting the event on Thursday 31 March and it’s free to attend. Register here to secure your spot.

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