Google Data Scientist Startup Climax Foods Raises US$7.5M To Make Cheese From Plants

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Climax Foods, the data science firm on a mission to create the most craved foods using plants, has just raised US$7.5 million in seed funding. The Berkeley, California-based startup will be using the capital to accelerate machine science-led research into the taste, flavour and nutrition of food categories that consumers love, starting with cheese. 

The oversubscribed US$7.5 million seed round drew investment from a number of firms, including At One Ventures, the VC founded by GoogleX co-founder Tom Chi, Manta Ray Ventures, S2G Ventures, Valor Siren Ventures, as well as undisclosed angel investors. 

Founded in 2019 by Dr. Oliver Zahn, former data scientist at Google, SpaceX and plant-based food tech giant Impossible Foods, Climax Foods harnesses data science technology to solve the complex problem of removing animals from the food system to make sustainable diets accessible and affordable for all. 

More specifically, the startup uses machine learning frameworks to find out at the molecular level what makes animal-based foods so craved and loved by mass consumers. By doing so, Climax Foods hopes to come up with much-needed answers to how an infinite combination of plant-based ingredients can be optimised to make sustainable food alternatives. 

The machine intelligence approach Climax Foods is pioneering is critical for harnessing the vast number of ways raw ingredients and natural processes can be used to create the ultimate digital recipes.

Sanjeev Krishnan, Chief Investment Officer at S2G Ventures

“Climax Foods is tackling the same opportunity to change the market and the food system, but they are doing it with an entirely novel technological approach,” explains Sanjeev Krishnan, the chief investment officer of S2G Ventures, the venture fund that has previously backed plant-based leader Beyond Meat. 

The machine intelligence approach Climax Foods is pioneering is critical for harnessing the vast number of ways raw ingredients and natural processes can be used to create the ultimate digital recipes.”

First up for the company is cheese, which a significant portion of the seed funding will go towards research and development within this category. 

“Aged cheese has been a challenging category but the data-driven approach of Climax Foods has created prototypes like nothing I’ve ever tasted on or off the market,” said Leah Volger from Manta Ray Ventures.

Today, more than 90% of all mammalian animals and more than 70% of all birds on the planet exist for the sole purpose of metabolizing plants and being turned into food. This industry is complex and wasteful, creating as much climate change as all modes of transportation combined, and using more than a third of the earth’s water and usable land.”

Dr. Oliver Zahn, Founder & CEO of Climax Foods

Looking ahead, the company will also target a number of other “craveable foods” that conventionally requires animal agriculture, a challenge now more relevant than ever before as the world wakes up to the need to prevent future zoonotic pandemics driven by our hunger for animal proteins

“Today, more than 90% of all mammalian animals and more than 70% of all birds on the planet exist for the sole purpose of metabolizing plants and being turned into food,” explained founder and CEO Zahn. “This industry is complex and wasteful, creating as much climate change as all modes of transportation combined, and using more than a third of the earth’s water and usable land.”

Joining Zahn on this mission at Climax Foods include former VP at Eat JUST and associate producer of plant-based blockbuster movie The Game Changers, Caroline Love, who will act as COO, as well as chemistry and analytics expert Pavel Aronov, who previously worked with Impossible Foods. 


Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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