NovoNutrients Raises US$9 Million for Converting CO2 Emissions Into Vegan Protein Ingredients

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Alternative proteins company NovoNutrients has secured a total of US$9 million to finish its industrial pilot project. The project is dedicated to capturing carbon emissions to develop high-quality animal-free proteins using naturally occurring microbes and industrial biotech.

Strong global backing

California-based NovoNutrients received US$4.7 funding from Hong Kong-based global venture firm, Happiness Capital which has previously backed plant-based meat pioneer Beyond Meat, Redefine Meat and Ynsect.

Several others participated in the funding round including E2JDJ and Marinya Capital along with re-ups from SOSV’s IndieBio and the Grantham Environmental Trust. Some of the company’s existing investors are Stanford Graduate School of Business Impact Fund, Purple Orange Ventures, and Joyance Partners.

The company further raised US$4.3 million through the support of ventures, and in non-dilutive, corporate project funding commitments.

In a statement, VP of Strategic Partnerships at NovoNutrients, Kumiko Yoshinari said: “Non-dilutive project funding from corporate partners, including a Catalyst Grant from Chevron Technology Ventures, is a critical accelerator. By building NovoNutrients facilities at commercial scale on the industrial sites where CO2 and hydrogen are generated, we will be able to trial the technology with new partners. We could enter joint ventures or license the technology, which we’ve already done. That allows us to scale without making heavy capital investments.”

Capture CO2 emissions to make futuristic foods

CEO of Happiness Capital, Eric Ng said: “NovoNutrients has taken major steps towards becoming one of the world’s biggest suppliers of innovative protein ingredients by 2030. The executive team has achieved tremendous support, not only from us but also from prior visionary investors, as well as project funding from powerful corporate partners.”

The company uses a fermentation process similar to the one that helps convert grapes into wine. Instead of grapes though, NovoNutrients takes naturally occurring microbes that live on CO2 and hydrogen to create protein flours. It claims that the ingredients are highly nutritious and the amino-acid profiles are better than soy ones.

The ingredients can be incorporated in plant-based foods as well as for animal feeds.

By building NovoNutrients facilities at commercial scale on the industrial sites where CO2 and hydrogen are generated, we will be able to trial the technology with new partners

Kumiko Yoshinari, VP of Strategic Partnerships at NovoNutrients

Ng added that the company is focussing on building a robust platform to make natural as well as synthetic biology products. “Beyond nutrition, we expect its platform to make other biobased chemicals and materials. Its tech is exceedingly cost effective and promising for addressing increasing global demand and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Read: Using Captured CO₂ In Everyday Products Could Help Fight Climate Change, But Do Consumers Want Them?

Rendering of a NovoNutrients pilot system. Source: NovoNutrients

Industrial scale

At the moment, NovoNutrients plans to showcase its proprietary fermentation to manufacture high-value proteins at industrial levels.

The total capital raised will be used to fund its industrial pilot project. The aim is to capture high levels of CO2 emissions by co-locating its bioreactors and systems either at an oil and gas or cement-related plant. This project will have a 1,000-liter bioreactor and soon, it will set up a 20,000-liter industrial demo.

On a global scale, NovoNutrients plants can slash industrial carbon emissions by gigatons.

Its tech is exceedingly cost effective and promising for addressing increasing global demand and greenhouse gas emissions

Eric Ng, CEO of Happiness Capital

These projects will also help cement the company’s plans to start securing funds for its Series A financing scheduled to happen later this year.

CEO of NovoNutrients, David Tze said that the company stands n the pillars of three generations of fermentation pioneers mostly rooted in biofuels. “Now, we believe we have found the path to high-value products and affordable industrial scale, by using greenhouse gases instead of corn. In the three years since our November 2018 Indiebio demo day, we’ve prototyped protein-based products that have a market value 10x our original one, which was targeted at replacing ingredients made from wild-caught fish. We have been able to do that without increasing our cost of fermentation.”

Going forward, the company plans to make products without protein content which can be used in cosmetic, chemical and material industries.

Read: Check Out These Startups That Are Making Planet-Friendly Protein Out Of Thin air and Microbes


Lead image courtesy of NovoNutrients.

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