TurtleTree Labs, the world’s first startup to develop lab-grown milk with the same composition as real dairy milk without any cows, has just won the grand prize amongst the 175,000 companies competing at the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWS). The news comes on the heels of the startup’s Liberty Challenge 2020 win and fresh Series A funding earlier this year. Beyond cultivated dairy milk, the company is one of the first in the world to create high-value, nutritionally matched lab-grown human breast milk for infants as well.
Announced on Monday (October 19) during the fifth edition of the Riyadh-based Misk Global Forum (MGF), the winner of the EWC was awarded to TurtleTree Labs, bagging home US$500,000 in prize money. The Singapore-based startup, who is the first biotech company to develop cell-based milk, competed against 175,000 entrants from over 200 countries and was selected by a formidable panel comprising Canadian businessman and Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary; Oyo Hotels founder Ritesh Agarwal, who is the world’s second youngest billionaire; Global Entrepreneurship Network chairman Jeff Hoffman; and Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, Saudi Prince and founder and CEO of KBW Ventures.
Commenting on their win in a social media post, TurtleTree Labs said: “Our entire team is so thankful and this year has highlighted why we need to make a global change in our food systems. Let’s build a sustainable world together!”
It’s a phenomenal feeling to win on the world stage and across all sectors in such a competitive environment. Imagine that: food tech companies are capturing the imagination of millions and giving hope for a cruelty free world.Max Rye, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of TurtleTree Labs
Co-founded in 2019 by Fengru Lin and Max Rye, TurtleTree Labs is Asia’s only startup using biotechnology to manufacture dairy milk with the exact composition, functionality and taste without any cows needed at a 98% carbon footprint reduction, as well as high-value nutritionally-matched human breast milk that takes aim at the lucrative US$45 billion infant milk formula industry – one of only two startups in the world focused on cultured infant milk, with U.S.-based Biomilq being the other.
Speaking to Green Queen about the news, Rye said: “It’s a phenomenal feeling to win on the world stage and across all sectors in such a competitive environment. Imagine that: food tech companies are capturing the imagination of millions and giving hope for a cruelty free world.”
“The importance of sustainable food production has never been more important globally. Winning this competition highlights the support of the community for novel food solutions,” added Lin. “We have another billion people coming onto the planet and we will continue to innovate new solutions to feed the world sustainably.”
Since its inception, the startup has made headlines for its breakthrough innovation, including being awarded S$1 million (US$718,800) by Temasek Foundation after winning The Liberty Challenge 2020 earlier in July. At the time, the company said it will go towards constructing a pilot product in Singapore and to scale-up its biotechnology solution for slaughter-free lab-grown milk with full functionality from all mammals.
The importance of sustainable food production has never been more important globally. Winning this competition highlights the support of the community for novel food solutions. We have another billion people coming onto the planet and we will continue to innovate new solutions to feed the world sustainably.Fengru Lin, Co-Founder & CEO of TurtleTree Labs
It came fresh on the heels of its fresh funding announcement in late June, which saw global investors such as Hong Kong-based Green Monday Ventures, San Francisco’s KBW Ventures and Sydney-based alternative investment management firm Artesian participate in a US$3.2 million seed round.
Headquartered in one of Asia’s key strategic food tech innovation hubs, especially at a time when the Singapore government is prioritising self-sufficiency and local sustainable food solutions to fend against coronavirus-induced supply shocks, TurtleTree Labs is likely to be among the first to bring its cultivated products to market, as previously emphasised in an industry alternative protein report.
Fellow Singapore-based startup Shiok Meats, the maker of cell-based seafood, is also a strong contender to be among the first to bring cultivated protein to market. It recently secured an impressive US$12.6 million Series A funding round, which it says it will use to build its first commercial pilot plant for cell-based minced shrimp by 2022.
Lead image courtesy of TurtleTree Labs / Getty Images.