Alt-protein-focused venture capital firm Lever VC announced this week that it has launched a new fund targeting early stage plant- and cell-based protein companies. The Lever VC Fund I currently has $23 million in capital commitments, according to a company press release.
Lever’s partners had previously invested in Beyond Meat, Impossible, Memphis Meats, and other notable alt-protein companies. Managing Partner Nick Cooney also founded the Good Food Institute, a non-profit for alternative protein companies.
Speaking this week to Food Navigator, Cooney said Lever’s new fund is doing 20 to 25 early stage investments that have so far been between $200,000 and “close to $1m.” He added that Lever tracks alt-protein companies in a proprietary database.
“For us as a sector specialist fund, we have the ability to really look across the board to identify the companies that are exciting but also have a valuation that makes sense from a risk return perspective,” he said.
Lever has already invested roughly $5 million across 10 companies. Those companies include TurtleTree Labs, which makes cell-cultured human breastmilk, and Mission Barns, a company that recently made headlines for its cell-based bacon. Better Meat Co., GOOD PLANet Foods, The Good Spoon, and Bond Pet Foods, Avant, Grounded, Marvelous Foods, and A Dozen Cousins.
Globally, investment in alternative protein has already reached $1.1 billion in 2020 so far, which is almost double the total investment number for all of 2019. The pandemic is partly responsible for this huge uptick in interest in the category as consumers rethink their reliance on animal-based meats and dairy items. The entire market for alternative protein is expected to grow to $17.9 billion by 2025.
Lever said in today’s press release that it will continue to invest in early-stage companies working in the alt-protein space and remains open to additional investors until the Fund’s final close.