Israel-based startup PoLoPo has secured $1.75 million in a Pre-Seed funding round for its molecular farming potato-based technology.
PoLoPo’s new funding was led by FoodLabs with participation from CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Plug and Play Ventures, Milk & Honey Ventures, and HackCapital.
The funding will support PoLoPo’s technology platform, starting with replicating ovalbumin, the protein found in egg white. The company says it expects to have prototypes in the coming 18 months, including protein-rich potato tubers and ovalbumin functional samples.
Turning potatoes into eggs
PoLoPo’s proprietary technology allows for proteins to be expressed in potatoes in a scalable, cost-effective way, which the company says can enable the food industry to meet its protein demands and nourish the world’s growing population; the egg protein market alone is valued at more than $26 billion, the company says.
Using its microbial tech, PoLoPo says its ovalbumin will be identical to chicken egg ovalbumin in terms of functionality, nutritional value, and protein sequence. PoLoPo’s goal is to produce better food for the world and reduce the carbon footprint of the production process.
“We want to produce better food for the world. Molecular farming technology, being harnessed for the production of high-quality proteins, presents a huge opportunity to do so, alongside with taking the animals out of the equation and reducing the carbon footprint of the production process” PoLoPo co-founder, Dr. Raya Liberman-Aloni, said in a statement.
The mighty, underused potato
The potato is the world’s most widely grown non-cereal food crop, produced in more than 100 countries worldwide. Potatoes are abundant, resilient, cheap, and versatile yet, according to PoLoPo, are an underused food source. PoLoPo says its potato-to-protein pathway offers commercial scalability since plants require relatively low investment to grow and are amenable to upscaling by common agricultural practices.
“We’ve been very impressed by the disruptive potential of their platform technology and, most importantly, by the deep plant science expertise of PoLoPo’s founders and their bold vision for the company,” said Christian Guba, Managing Partner at FoodLabs. “We believe they are set to complement the incumbents in Precision Fermentation by pioneering a simpler approach to develop proteins.”
PoLoPo’s innovative approach to protein production has already gained recognition, winning the Coller startup competition FoodTech track in July 2022, and securing its first investment from CPT Capital. Last October, PoLoPo won the FoodHack Demo Day as the startup with the most impact potential.