MicroHarvest secures US$8.2m to scale protein production

GERMANY— MicroHarvest, a Hamburg-based biotech startup leverages the ‘power of microorganisms’ to produce single cell protein for the B2B ingredients market, has secured US$8.2 million in a Series A funding round that will see it ‘ramp up’ production with a new pilot plant in Lisbon, with plans to commercialize in 2023.

The technology is founded on microbial fermentation. Production begins with the start-up’s bacterial strain and growth medium, before the fermentation process encourages biomass ‘growth’. After this stage, the protein can be harvested.

The company said the whole process can occur in one day – making it the ‘world’s fastest’ protein production system. Now, having secured €8.5m in Series A funding, the start-up is making moves to increase the scale of its fermentation process.

The funding round was led by Astanor Ventures and Happiness Capital, with participation from Faber and FoodLabs.

“We are thrilled to partner with these eminent funds. We have a strong shared vision for creating impact to our food systems, using the power of nature,”​said MicroHarvest co-founder and CEO Katelijne Bekers. Together we can deliver impact at scale, bringing the faster protein production system to commercialization.”

MicroHarvest’s approach is by far the easiest and most scalable way to produce sustainable protein that we have come across, with applications across the whole protein value chain

Investor FoodLabs said it was ‘impressed’ by what the MicroHarvest team has achieved to-date. “MicroHarvest’s approach is by far the easiest and most scalable way to produce sustainable protein that we have come across, with applications across the whole protein value chain,” said FoodLabs’ Christian Guaba.

Possible applications along the whole protein value chain go beyond human consumption to animal feed to direct application in human food and pet food.

“We will show within a niche market in animal feed that we can scale, build our reputation, and then move into the next market,” Bekers said.

Once it has entered feed and pet food markets, MicroHarvest plans to turn its attention to the protein ingredients sector for human consumption.

According to Futuremarketinsights, the global alternative protein market garnered a market value of US$ 73.44 Billion in 2022 and is expected to accumulate a market value of US$ 496.56 Billion by registering a CAGR of 21% in the forecast period 2022-2032.

By the end of the decade, the start-up plans to be operating in aquafeed, human nutrition, pet food, and specialty micronutrient feed markets.

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