Alternative protein company Deep Branch has secured €2.5 million (~$2.9 million USD) in new funding from the European Investment Council (EIC) Accelerator to scale up production of the company’s novel, single-cell protein called Proton. The funding will be used to build a production facility in the Netherlands that the company hopes will be operational by Q2 of next year, according to a release sent to The Spoon.
The announcement comes just months after Deep Branch secured government funding from the UK through an organization called the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), which funded nine projects to the tune of $30 million to help advance zero-emission farming and greater food sovereignty within the UK.
One of those projects is REACT-FIRST, which is a consortium centered around Deep Branch’s technology that creates protein using CO2 inputs from industrial emissions. Deep Branch, which has developed an animal feed formula using its novel single-cell protein that has a nutritional profile similar to that of fishmeal, was working with nine other partners as part of REACT-FIRST to create a sustainable protein research and production value chain.
With today’s news, Deep Branch is expanding to mainland Europe as part of an effort to accelerate the scaling of production for the company’s novel protein. The new funding will help the company build out a production facility at the Netherlands-based Brightlands Chemelot Campus, a European hub focused on providing space and infrastructure for circular chemistry and chemical processes. The new facility will, according to the release, “enable Deep Branch to scale up increasing production to enable animal feed manufacturers to expedite performance testing of the new protein.”
“Brightlands Chemelot Campus is the ideal location for our Scale-Up Centre, and there is a clear alignment between our goals and the facility’s overall ambitions for CO2 recycling and sustainable hydrogen use,”said Deep Branch CEO Peter Rowe in the release. “The industrial site gives us the ability to scale up quickly and has room for a large-scale production facility as well as the raw materials to create Proton. We have access to everything we need.”
Deep Branch will be working with feed producers BioMar and AB Agri as part of the scale up and optimization.
“Setting up the pilot plant represents an important next step in finding the perfect recipe for Proton that meets the requirements of feed producers,” said Rowe.
Deep Branch is one of a small cohort of new startups that have launched over the past few years focused on developing protein using a process called gas fermentation. (Check out Spoon Plus report on the topic here.) Others include Air Protein, Solar Foods and NovoNutrients. Last year, the European Space Agency started working with Solar Foods to develop the technology for use in space to feed astronauts.