Chilean alternative protein startup Protera raises US$5.6m in Series A funding round

CHILE – Protera, an AI-driven startup designing and developing new proteins to address critical problems and opportunities in the food and agriculture industry has raised US$5.6 million in a Series A funding round to advance and commercialize its solutions.

The funding round was led by Sofinnova Partners, a leading European life sciences venture capital firm with additional participation from Tech venture capital firm SOSV, an existing investor in the company.

Protera was founded by Leonardo Álvarez and Francia Navarrete in 2015 in Chile. In 2016 the company joined IndieBio, a biology-focused accelerator in Silicon Valley. Since then, Protera has been developing its AI technology, allowing it to craft functional protein ingredients that are clean-label and animal-free.

Protera uses a proprietary deep learning algorithm, MADI, that predicts high value, patentable protein products and enzymes with unprecedented speed to design and develop new proteins.

Protera explains that it takes advantage of deep learning to shine a light on a previously untapped universe of proteins. Leonardo believes that the company’s products will allow manufacturers to use proteins in a myriad of applications “that were thought to be impossible before.

“We are harnessing protein engineering to address critical sustainability issues – from food to agriculture and human health,” he says.

The company is about to begin pilot trials with multinational food companies to deploy a unique, clean-label protein that extends shelf-life and replaces chemically derived ingredients.

Álvarez, who is also the CEO and co-founder of the company said they intend to use the financing to support the commercialization of its protein ingredient portfolio.

“We throw away one-third of the food we produce every year worldwide, and one of the main reasons is microbial contamination,” Álvarez observed.

“This financing will enable us to scale up protera guard, a protein that provides people with food that lasts longer, and which replaces widely used chemical ingredients with an efficient natural alternative.

 “We are thrilled to have Sofinnova Partners’ support and to be able to draw on its strategic counsel and deep industrial biotechnology expertise,” he said.

Commenting on the inevtsment, Joško Bobanović, Partner at Sofinnova Partners said: “The highly entrepreneurial team at Protera leverages the convergence of recent AI developments and the opportunity to engineer biology to develop sustainable solutions in multiple verticals.”

Mr. Bobanović, who has helped build Sofinnova Partners’ reputation as a pioneer in industrial biotech in Europe, will join Protera’s board of directors following the investment.

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