Raleigh, North Carolina-based Solar Biotech has raised a $2 million in a debt-financing round from a single, unnamed investor, according to WRAL Tech Wire, which first broke the news. The funds will go towards scaling up Solar Biotech’s renewable-energy-powered fermentation technology, which it licenses to other companies.
That technology consists of what Solar Biotech calls “SynBio Hyperintegration Algorithms.” These allow for customized plant architectures, dubbed “BioNodes,” for each synthetic biology product and can be used for, among other things, functional food ingredients.
The end goal is to provide a platform through which other companies can scale up and get their products to market faster without having to build their own technology platform. Solar Biotech claims its first working prototype, BioNode-1, will reduce products’ time to market “by 10-fold” for “a fraction of current costs.” Practically speaking, that means Solar Biotech wants to help companies get their fermentation products to market in months, rather than years, and eventually days.
It’s an ambitious goal, but one very fitting for the times. Fermentation is widely seen as “the next pillar of alternative proteins” alongside cultured and plant-based protein.
Fermentation uses microbes to produce proteins and functional ingredients that can be used in meat and dairy alternatives. Unlike the nascent process behind cultured protein, fermentation is more or less a proven process that’s available to food companies now. The challenge for fermentation companies nowadays is more about scale than anything else.
Fermentation has a lot of potential uses cases, from animal-free dairy a la Perfect Day to alternative bee honey to steak. Solar Biotech joins a number of other companies, including MycoTechnology, Nature’s Fynd, and HakkoBako, in focusing on the actual tech that will make fermentation more widely available at a lower cost.