Jellatech, a company making animal-free gelatin and collagen ingredients, announced today it has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding. Green Queen was first to break the news. The round included participation from Big Idea Ventures, Sustainable Food Ventures, Iron Grey, YellowDog, 7 Hound Ventures, Capital V, Sentient Investments and Bluestein Ventures.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based Jellatech came out of stealth mode in November 2020. The company grows gelatin and collagen in bioreactors, rather than sourcing those ingredients from the bones and skin of animals and fish. The company says it does not need to ship animals anywhere or slaughter them in order to develop its products. Rather, it uses animal cells to grow the collagen and gelatin.
Once inside a bioreactor, these cells produce the collagen, which can then be isolated and used in a range of different products in the food, skincare, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, to name just a few areas. As Green Queen points out, plant-based alternatives like pectin or agar haven’t yet been able to replace traditional collagen and gelatin because of their limited functionality.
Jellatech’s cell-cultured method isn’t completely animal free, since animal cells are required. However, as noted above, the cell-based method doesn’t require ant animal slaughter.
Geltor is another company developing alt-gelatin, albeit via an entirely different method. Geltor uses microbes to “grow” collagen and its constituent proteins, including gelatin, via fermentation.
Both startups aim to decrease dependence on the traditional collagen/gelatin market, which Jellatech says is worth $3.5 billion dollars is expected to grow 9 percent annually.
Funds from this pre-seed round will go towards further developing products for the food, skincare and medical industries. Jellatech also said its first samples will be sent out by the end of April 2021.