Biotech company Sustainable Bioproducts announced this morning that it has rebranded as Nature’s Fynd and raised $80 million in fresh funding. The Series B round was co-led by Generation Investment Management LLP and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with participation from 1955 Capital, Mousse Partners, ADM Ventures, and Danone Manifesto Ventures. This brings the total amount of funding for Nature’s Fynd so far to $113 million.
Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd grew out of NASA-supported research in 2016. The company creates complete proteins by fermenting extremophile microbes based off of those that live in the scalding-hot geothermal springs in Yellowstone National Parks. The resulting protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Eventually Nature’s Fynd plans to use said protein to create its own food and beverage product lines.
For now, though, Nature’s Fynd has yet to start actually producing this fermented protein at a large scale. Today the company announced it will begin production at its 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chicago later this month. Nature’s Fynd CMO Karuna Rawal told me via email that they plan to start selling branded products to retailers in 12 to 15 months.
The fact that Nature’s Fynd was able to attract such a hefty amount of capital suggests that investors believe in the potential of protein fermentation. It’s especially notable that the venture arms of Big Food companies ADM and Danone both contributed to Nature’s Fynd’s latest fundraise (both groups also participated in the Series A round). Perhaps those companies are hoping that down the road, they could incorporate alt-protein from Nature’s Fynd into their own animal-free products as an alternative to, say, pea or soy.
Nature’s Fynd is not the only company developing fermentation tech to create protein. Perfect Day and New Culture both use genetically-engineered microbes to ferment the building blocks of dairy. This is a cousin to so-called gas fermentation, in which microbes transform carbon dioxide into edible protein. And Motif Foodworks provides bespoke fermented protein to CPG companies making animal-free products.
“Our innovative technology was developed by studying nature’s own solutions for adapting — and ultimately thriving — in environments with limited resources,” Thomas Jonas, the CEO and co-founder of Nature’s Fynd, stated in an email to The Spoon. Considering that the future of our food production is a bit perilous right now, it’s a smart move to invest in novel ways to create dietary staples. Protein included.