Air Protein, a company using technology to make meat from elements in the air, announced today it has completed a $32 million Series A round of fundraising. The round was led by ADM Ventures, Barclays, and GV (formerly Google Ventures), according to a press announcement sent to The Spoon.
Air Protein’s approach to alternative meat is fairly unique at this point in the evolution of alt-protein. The company feeds elements found in the air, such as carbon dioxide, to microbes in a fermentation tank. The microbes ingest the air elements and output a healthy protein that then gets texturized and turned into various alt meat products. Though the company has not yet named specific types of meat it is developing, it does plan to create products it will sell directly to consumers (as opposed to selling to other food producers).
Speaking on the phone this week, Air Protein’s CEO and cofounder Dr. Lisa Dyson told me the company’s technology is “very flexible” in terms of the types of meat it can produce. And since air protein, the concept, requires very few resources (e.g., land, water) to produce, it can be produced virtually anywhere in the world.
To that end, San Francisco Bay Area-based Air Protein plans to use its new funds in part to launch an R&D lab that will help develop different types of alt-meats as well as scale production. On the phone, Dr. Dyson said the lab will allow her company to “produce and expand” its product line, and that the forthcoming R&D innovation lab will be key to that process.
Air Protein will also use the new funds to recruit and build up its team of employees.
For now, at least, the company is focused on producing only meat alternatives. As Dr. Dyson explained, the traditional meat industry is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet, as well as an industry that uses unsustainable amounts of resources like land and water. But demand for meat continues to rise, and with a global population moving steadily towards 10 billion people by 2050, the need for alternatives gets more urgent each year. “We need solutions and Air Protein is excited to be one of those solutions,” Dr. Dyson said.
She was quick to applaud the efforts of other types of alternative meat production, including plant-based meat, and suggested that due to the sheer amount of demand globally for meat, opportunity exists now and will continue to for many different methods and companies. Air Protein’s high-tech, resource-light method for meat is one way to satiate the planet’s appetite for meat without incurring so heavy an environmental burden.