- FoodTech Weekly
- FoodTech Weekly #170 by Daniel S. Ruben
FoodTech Weekly #170 by Daniel S. Ruben
News on FoodTech, food, and society
FoodTech Weekly #170
The most-clicked link in last week’s newsletter was ‘The Crimes Behind the Seafood You Eat’. If you haven’t yet read this New Yorker piece, do it.
A reminder: All my Premium Subscribers get a food-themed book before the holidays. So if you’re not yet a Premium Subscriber, join now and you’ll get the book too.
This week's rundown:
Don’t have a cow: Moolec raises $30M to produce bovine and porcine proteins without animals
The latest buzz: Insect-farming companies FarmInsect and Protix secure major funding rounds
The Austrian political party that demands a beer fountain in Vienna
Caught up with Daniel MacGowan von Holstein of Kynda. Daniel started his career as a lawyer, and worked in London, Singapore, and Zurich. ‘But I had the entrepreneurial bug that runs in our family. I set up a burger restaurant in Hamburg in 2014 (note to self: Very on-brand to set up a hamburger joint in Hamburg) which quickly expanded to 5 locations and 100+ employees, before selling to a PE firm in 2020’, Daniel says, and continues:
‘Already in 2018, we started thinking about incorporating more vegan options on the menu. We were the first to serve Beyond Meat in Germany. We thought we could make a superior version; clean, locally produced, and even more sustainable. We started making fantastic products using mycelium (the root-like structure of fungi), but ran into the bioreactor scarcity problem, and that led to Kynda. We realized the market didn’t need another alt protein brand, it needed a company to supply plug-and-play bioreactors for biomass fermentation.’ This challenge became the catalyst for the birth of Kynda.
Conventional bioreactors, primarily designed for the pharmaceutical industry, were advanced but came with a hefty price tag. Daniel and Franziskus (his co-founder), and their team set out to redesign and optimize bioreactors for biomass production. ‘We now have 4-6x lower CAPEX than conventional bioreactors. Cost is a huge problem holding back a whole industry. We solved it’, Daniel says proudly.
To make their bioreactors accessible to a wider audience, Kynda aimed to simplify their operation, making them user-friendly. The goal was to enable regular factory workers to operate the bioreactors effectively, not just scientists. ‘Then we realized we had to provide a turnkey solution to customers and eliminate the need for fermentation experience and lab space. Think of a Kynda bioreactor as the Nespresso of the biotech world, offering starter cultures (to start the fermentation process) much like coffee pods.’ Daniel notes.
Kynda's innovative bioreactors open new possibilities for various industries, including flour mills and pea protein producers. They enable these businesses to transform their waste side streams, such as bran or starch, into valuable alternative proteins instead of selling them cheaply as animal feed. This approach offers a more sustainable and profitable use of resources.
Kynda doesn't just sell bioreactors; they’ll offer complete solutions to their clients. This includes service and support agreements, as well as a subscription model for the starter cultures. ‘This gives us a deep and ongoing relationship with our clients’, Daniel observes.
Whilst Kynda started with biomass fermentation, it has recently, through a series of successful small-scale tests, showcased the adaptability of their bioreactors for precision fermentation and will scale its precision fermentation production in 2024 following the fundraise.
The company currently has 16 people on the team, mainly engineers, scientists and technicians. Kynda is currently raising a $4M Seed round, and is looking for collaborations with AgriFood companies that have side stream leftovers that they want to valorize. Daniel can be reached via LinkedIn and email.
Daniel MacGowan-von Holstein (left) and Franziskus Schnabel, Kynda cofounders
Molecular farming scaleup Moolec Science has raised $30M. The company bioengineers plants such as soybeans to produce bovine and porcine proteins (cows and pigs, y’all). For example, Moolec produces Chymosin SPC, a bovine protein (enzyme) used in cheesemaking.
Munich, Germany-company FarmInsect has bagged a €8m Series A round, led by Norwegian VC Sandwater and backed by Bayern Kapital, EIC, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Minderoo Foundation. FarmInsect has developed an automated solution to enable localized production of insects as animal feed. The company supplies larvae, and farmers can then fatten the larvae with e.g. crop residue, before feeding the larva to e.g. hens. In related news, Netherlands-based Protix — which produces insects as animal feed, aquafeed, and pet food — received a $55M (according to Aqua-Spark) strategic equity investment from a group of investors including Tyson Foods. As part of the investment, Protix will open a production facility in the U.S.
Also in Munich, Happy Ocean Foods, which produces plant-based seafood alternatives, has snagged a €1.5m (appr. $1.6M) Seed round from Companisto, reports Sifted Daily.
And in Hamburg, robotic kitchen developer GoodBytz has banked a €12M Series A (appr. $12.6M) led by Oyster Bay and Block Group. GoodBytz’s robots help amplify professional chefs in cooking high-quality, healthy food in the shortest time. By 2025, the company plans to produce over 100 Robotic Kitchen Assistants.
Amatera of France, which develops non-GMO strands of vegetables and other crops, has closed a €1.5M (appr. $1.6M) pre-seed round. The investment was led by PINC and joined by e.g. Exceptional Ventures, Joyance Partners, AgFunder, and Mudcake (full disclose: I’m an advisor to Mudcake). Amatera uses plant cell culture to accelerate natural evolution without using e.g. gene editing; first up is perennial crops including coffee to create varieties that are e.g. better-tasting and/or caffeine-free.
U.S. startup Zordi, which uses e.g. AI and robotics to automate greenhouses and cut labor costs by up to 80%, has scored a $20M funding round (backed by Khosla).
PickNik Robotics of Boulder, Colorado, has clinched $2M in pre-seed funding in a round led by Stellar Ventures and Cypress Growth Capital. The company develops e.g. robot arms that can be used for e.g. bin picking and autonomous cargo unloading, also in the AgriFood space.
HeavyFinance of Lithuania has secured €1M from Mantas Mikuckas, co-founder of Vinted. The company allows retail and large investors to provide green loans to small and mid-sized farmers switching to regenerative practices.
U.K. startup WNWN Food Labs, which produces cocoa-free chocolate, will release three new products that ‘riff’ on existing popular chocolate bars such as Cadbury’s Wholenut and Tony’s Chocolonely, but ‘without the child/slave labour, deforestation, and outsized carbon footprint.’ (waiting for cease-and-desist letters to arrive in 5, 4, 3….)
Image: WNWN Food Labs
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Spain started building the Sagrada Familia in 1882 (it’s still not done). A year later, Sweden started on its official dictionary. After 140 years and a total of 137 full-time employees working on it since the 1800s, the dictionary is finally completed. The last word in the 39 volumes was öxla, which means ‘procreate’, and was last used in 1572 — and now in FoodTech Weekly (h/t Mathias Sundin).
A Harvard researcher has found that red wine should be removed from the Mediterranean diet for those under 35 years. Research is ongoing to help clarify whether red wine should also be removed for those over 35; at the moment, evidence indicates that the Med diet loses up to 23.5% of its protective effect if wine is removed (h/t: Marie Dollé).
The Beer Party was polling 12% in a recent survey in Austria. Beyond advocating for improved traffic infrastructure, increased environmental protection, and various changes to health care and childcare, the party
demands a beer fountain in Vienna, and a 50% tax on Radlers (Shandy), as well as a Radler buyback programme where people can exchange Radlers for ‘real beer’.
Source: European Space Agency
Having lived in New York for a couple of years, I can confirm this 20 sec video (which Eduardo P sent me) is a pretty accurate description of that city:
I love you.
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