Big Idea Ventures announces cohort of 17 start-ups

October 5, 2022 - 7 minutes
U.K. company Extracellular channels biology, digitalization and biomanufacturing to accelerate cultivated meat development. Photo/Extracellular

Big Idea Ventures has revealed its latest accelerator cohort.

Seventeen early-stage startups were selected for pre-seed investment as part of Big Idea Ventures’ bi-annual new protein accelerator program. Investments were made through the firm’s three offices in New York, Paris and Singapore and the firm’s first fund – New Protein Fund I ($50 million+).

“The 17 companies in our latest cohort are all working to solve key challenges in the alternative protein industry today. From new extraction and fermentation methods to AI-enabled micro fluids, connected bioreactors, and cell-based fats, these companies offer compelling solutions to scale production, cut costs and improve both the nutrition and taste profiles of alternative protein products,” said Andrew D. Ive, founder and managing general partner of Big Idea Ventures.

“I encourage investors, corporate leaders, and partners to reach out to the founders of the companies that most excite them and find out more about the innovative technologies and applications they are developing.” 

Big Idea Venture’s New York accelerator

“For the sixth cohort working with our New York team, we are excited to welcome a collaborative minded group of founders from diverse backgrounds, spanning multiple countries,” said Caroline Mak, Big Idea Venture’s program director in New York.

“From cultivated fats to manufacturing support, we continue to see trends towards creating technical innovations that we believe will drive and support the ecosystem of alternative proteins as a whole.”

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Companies

Cultimate Foods (Germany). Culminate is a cellular agriculture company that creates alternative fat ingredients for plant-based meat products. Unlike other fat alternatives, Cultimate replicates the structure of animal fat tissue. Its technological approach of combining fat cells and plant-based proteins creates the structure of the ingredient while reducing costs.

Extracellular (U.K.). The company produces biomass for cultivated meat companies more efficiently. It is digitizing process development, pulling together huge quantities of data to make better decisions faster and at scale.

Genuine Taste (Canada). This is a cell-based agriculture startup that produces cultivated fat to improve the taste, texture, aroma, and nutrition of alternative protein products. Its patent-pending scaffolding technology enables the cultivation of fat cells in the exact microenvironment they naturally grow in. This results in increases in cell proliferation, cell viability, and higher cell-per-volume yields compared to conventional cell culturing methods.

NouBio (U.S.). A biotech company focusing on the development of sustainable, cost-effective, and animal-free products for scalable cell culture in cultivated meat, cell therapy, and vaccine production businesses, NouBio’s fetal bovine serum (FBS) replacement is 95% more cost-effective than traditional FBS. In addition, it provides an edible and biodegradable microcarrier for scalable cell growth in bioreactors.

Thrilling Foods (U.S.). Thrilling Foods manufactures and sells Bakon, a patented bacon alternative made from soy milk that is traditionally salt cured and hardwood smoked. Bakon is composed of both fatty and lean layers that constitute a very similar texture and macronutrient values as traditional pork bacon, which along with the traditional cure, make it more bacon-like than competing products.

Big Idea Venture’ Singapore accelerator

“In alignment with Singapore’s development of advanced infrastructure for alternative protein, our sixth cohort spans innovative solutions for both upstream and downstream processes of fermentation and cellular agriculture. From bioreactors to cell lines and even microcarriers, supporting these auxiliary services will bring us closer to commercialization and price parity,” said Dalal AlGhawas, Big Idea Venture’s program director in Singapore.

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The companies

ImpacFat (Singapore). The company specializes in the production of cultivated fat to enhance the flavor, texture, aroma and nutrition of alternative protein products. It is the first company with a focus on fish cell-based fat. The team has filed IP for its technology and currently works on scale-up manufacturing and optimization of the taste and nutritional values of novel foods.

Smart MCs (Australia). Smart MCs focuses on making texturized cultivated meat a commercially viable food source by providing cell type-specific microcarriers and complementary solutions. Its microcarrier technology is being adapted across the pharmaceutical industry to lower cellular therapeutic costs. 

Dynacyte (Singapore). The focus of Dynacyte is to expand the reach of biotech by creating smart and modular bioreactors that have IoT, artificial intelligence, microelectronics and wetware incorporated into them. The company designs intelligent electronic, thermal, kinetic, optical, sensor/telemetric systems and UI/UX experiences from the ground up, and has a long-term strategy of owning and controlling the key technologies behind its products.

Mycosortia (Singapore). This company specializes in turning food side streams that are unfit for human consumption into edible alternative protein products using microbial consortia fermentation. It supplies microbial fermented and plant-based proteins as green labeled food ingredients via B2B partnerships. It also formulates and supplies alternative protein food products to customers using upcycled food ingredients via B2B and B2B2C sales.

Sono Biosciences (Singapore). Sono is a life science company developing next generation fish cell culture media free of animal derived growth factors, as well as fish cell lines that are immortal and traceable. It hopes to reduce the cost of producing lab cultured fish by genetically modifying cell lines using CRISPR and bringing the serum-free cell culture technology used in the pharmaceutical industry to producing cultured fish.

Algrow Biosciences (Singapore). The company creates dairy alternatives with one of the world’s most sustainable, nutritious and abundant ingredients – microalgae. The technology tackles target molecules in microalgae linked to offnotes and green pigment. The “full stack” solution runs from proprietary strain, bioprocess design to formulation. 

Big Idea Venture’s Paris accelerator

“With our sixth cohort, it is inspiring that we continue to see a strong trend of advanced technical achievements with start-ups that are IP driven,” said Henrietta Hearth, vice president at Big Idea Ventures.

“We have also seen more and more companies focusing on alternative seafood as consumers start to understand the environmental impacts of fish consumption.”

The six companies

Esencia (Germany). Esencia Foods is Europe’s first company building fish and seafood alternatives based on mushroom mycelium, using solid state fermentation. Its mission is to accelerate the world’s transition toward a system that provides accessible and affordable nutrition by building a technology platform to recreate different fish and seafood types from mycelium.

Loki Foods (Iceland). Specializing in using 100% renewable energy to produce plant-based alternative-seafood products in Iceland, Loki Foods will launch plant-based white fish (analogue of Atlantic cod) in 2023, as well as a line of seafood products to replace conventional seafoods.

Food Squared (U.K.) A plant based company formulating whole cut fish alternatives using novel 3D printing, Food Squared said its biomimicry technology enables higher precision and quicker throughput than conventional whole cut manufacturing methods. It said it has the potential to be fully tunable, which can be adapted to create models for different species with different taste,texture and nutrition profiles. It also utilizes ingredients with a lower carbon footprint.

Niskus Biotec (Ireland). The company leverages its scaled up solid state fermentation process to provide food companies sustainable functional food ingredients. Its first ingredient product range is MycoGrain, a mushroom mycelium-based protein rich flour suitable to use as a base ingredient for a broad range of food products. It can be tailored to provide additional taste, texture, aroma, and nutraceuticals by changing the mushroom species in the fermenter.

The Good Pulse Co. (U.K.). The company develops natural, functional proteins and ingredients from pulses for use in plant-based foods and supplements. Its mission is to power the transition to plant-based foods by providing sustainable and minimally-processed ingredients that make it easier and cheaper for food companies to create more nutritious dairy and meat alternatives.

Shoken (U.K.) Shoken is a vegan meat manufacturer focusing on deli slices and pizza toppings. Its strategy focuses on key global partnerships and high volume accounts in the foodservice and pizza sectors. 

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