Singapore-based startup TurtleTree Labs has recently been awarded S$1 million (US$718,800) by Temasek Foundation after winning The Liberty Challenge 2020. The prize money will help the company develop 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 challenge, which was presented by the non-profit arm of the Singapore state sovereign fund, seeks to connect investors and entrepreneurs who have developed solutions to the biggest sustainability challenges facing cities in Asia in the coming years, from urban food pollution to decarbonisation strategies.
The third edition of the challenge this year, which was organised by Singapore media company Eco-Business and convened by New York-based circular investment firm Closed Loop Partners, saw more than 400 applicants from over 60 countries and 6 shortlisted finalists, who pitched their solutions to a virtual panel of leading investors from Asia.
Co-founded in 2019 by Fengru Lin and Max Rye, Singaporean startup TurtleTree Labs is the world’s first cell-based milk company that utilises 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.
After winning the prize, co-founder and CEO Lin said: “This will be the future of dairy, [solving] food security challenges and sustainability around the world. Humbled by the support from Temasek Foundation and the community, we will continue giving back as a business for good.”
Apart from the grand prize money, TurtleTree Labs will be taking home an S$100,000 (US$71,900) investment and introductions to 10 impact investors who will provide mentorship support. They will also be able to take up a spot on global VC and startup generator Antler’s accelerator program.
One of the judges from the online panel, Lim Hock-chuan, the CEO of Temasek Foundation Ecosperity, explained that TurtleTree’s solution nabbed the winning prize because it represents “a win for both sustainable use of resources and for our food security in the long term.”
Food security and sustainability has been top priorities for the Singapore government of late. At the beginning of this year, the government announced an ambitious S$100 billion (US$72 billion) plan to adapt to a climate-stricken future, which included initiatives from sustainable and resilient infrastructure to improving the state’s self-sufficiency.
In April, the authorities announced an additional S$30 million (US$21 million) fund to boost local food production and fend itself from external supply shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which builds on top of the earlier S$140 million (US$101) set aside for the city to meet 30% of its nutritional food needs by 2030.
TurtleTree Labs’ win comes 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.
Speaking to Green Queen exclusively about the funding, co-founder and chief strategist Rye said that the funding will “enhance our scale-up development, bringing us one step closer to commercialisation.”
Lead image courtesy of TurtleTree Labs.