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6th March 2024  Editorial by: newprotein staff writer

Advancing Alternative Dairy Products: Cultivated Biosciences Secures $5 Million in Seed Funding

Cultivated Biosciences, a pioneering Swiss biotech food startup, has announced the successful closing of its seed funding round, securing $5 million to fuel its ambitious growth plans. This significant financial injection will accelerate both the development of their yeast cream in collaboration with the food industry and preparation for the market launch in 2025.

The dairy-free sector has experienced considerable growth and innovation recently. Still, the products fail to convince consumers as the various attempts of mixing plant-based proteins with vegetable oils and additives like emulsifiers and texturizers still don’t exactly replicate the dairy experience. They also don’t meet expectations in terms of health and sustainability, as additives and exotic oils are used. Cultivated Biosciences offers a sustainable and healthy solution with its yeast-derived cream, a critical ingredient for mimicking the creaminess, functionality, and color of traditional dairy cream. This ingredient improves the texture and stability of dairy-free products, replaces additives, and doesn’t affect taste.

The yeast cream is a natural emulsion, just as dairy cream is a natural emulsion, but derived from a specific type of oleaginous yeast. Cultivated Biosciences has developed unique and proprietary technologies, and the yeast cream is patented. The production process involves yeast biomass fermentation, a method distinct from precision fermentation as it is non-GMO, cheaper, and more easily scalable. It does not aim to replicate dairy cream on a molecular level. Instead, it achieves functional and sensory parity. The yeast cream contains fats, proteins, and fibers, all from the yeast, featuring a microstructure of yeast lipid droplets that resemble milk fat droplets. This ingredient is designed for integration into final consumer products, with Cultivated Biosciences planning to supply it to the food industry and gastronomy sectors through a B2B model. The company has already validated its application in products like coffee creamers, milk, and ice cream with its clients and is exploring further uses.

The funding round drew a strategic group of investors, highlighting widespread support for Cultivated Biosciences' mission to narrow the gap between dairy alternatives and traditional dairy with its fermentation-derived creamy ingredient. Navus Ventures, a Dutch venture capital firm dedicated to promoting sustainable food and energy systems, led the investment round. Founderful (previously known as Wingman Ventures), a Swiss tech venture capital firm and an early investor in Cultivated Biosciences, demonstrated their continued trust in the company by significantly contributing in this round, along with other early investors like HackCapital and Lukas Böni, the founder of Planted. The round also introduced new investors, including US-based Joyful VC, Mandi Ventures, and Zürcher Kantonalbank, all persuaded by the company's significant progress since its $1.5 million pre-seed round in September 2022.

Reflecting on the successful funding round, Cultivated Biosciences' CEO Tomas Turner shared his gratitude and optimism for the future. He stated, "This funding validates our innovative approach and enables us to introduce our revolutionary yeast cream to the market. We aim to make alternative dairy products appealing to traditional dairy consumers, not just to reduce CO2 emissions from dairy production but also to tap into a multi-billion dollar market opportunity."

Eduard Meijer, Managing Director of Navus Ventures, added: “This dairy-free cream with great taste, mouthfeel, versatility, and functionality can significantly improve alternative dairy, with a technology that has the potential to scale economically. We are excited to team up to help them make these products commonplace, catering to diverse consumer preferences” The 15-member team is now focused on scaling up production and collaborating closely with the food industry and gastronomy to introduce their ingredient to consumer markets by 2025.

Cultivated Biosciences Yeast Cream is suitable for use in a diverse array of applications, including ice cream, coffee creamers, milk alternatives, cream cheese, pastries, and desserts. It is a functional ingredient, offering:

  • A dairy-like mouthfeel
  • Natural emulsification properties
  • Stability under varying temperatures or pH levels
  • Clean label credentials
  • Astringency-masking capabilities

With plans to start production in the United States first, owing to the United States' expedient regulatory environment, Cultivated Biosciences innovative ingredient should be commercially available for B2B food industry and gastronomy customers some time in 2025.

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Date Published: 6th March 2024

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