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Helaina, the startup developing immune-equivalent proteins in breast milk through precision fermentation, has raised $20 million.
Helaina has closed its Series A funding round with $20 million, co-led by early-stage tech investors Spark Capital and Siam Capital. Participating investors included Primary Venture Partners and Plum Alley Investments, as well as American celebrities like Tom Williams, Hannah Bronfman, Gabrielle Union, and Matt Rutler among others.
The latest financing brings the New York startup’s total funds raised to date to $24.6 million, and will be used to scale up the company’s technology as it looks to commercialise its nature-equivalent breast milk solution.
Precision fermentation breast milk
While other startups in the infant nutrition space like Biomilq and TurtleTree are using cellular agriculture to recreate proteins found in human breast milk, Helaina leverages precision fermentation technology. It’s the same technology that Perfect Day pioneered in its nature-identical whey proteins without the need for cows, which is now being used to make cruelty-free ice cream and cream cheese.
Helaina says that through reprogramming microbes, it has been able to recreate immune-equivalent proteins previously only available in breast milk. Since 2019, the company has been looking to use the tech to “unlock a suite of functional proteins that are clinically proven to boost immunity.”
Founder Laura Katz says that the startup’s solution will bring much-needed disruption to the infant nutrition industry, which “has been stagnant for decades.”
“I’m proud to be part of the team bringing a new solution to parents that empowers and equips them with more choice in their infant’s nutrition,” Katz added.
Helaina now enters ‘next growth phase’
Helaina says that the fresh capital will help the company kickstart manufacturing and move towards commercialisation, as well as grow its team.
“I was thrilled to see how passionate investors were to be involved in this round and look forward to the continued partnership as we enter our next growth phase as a company,” shared Katz.
The company’s first product will be an infant formula that contains bioactive proteins, which will be the first “humanised” formula with proven immune benefits for newborns. After the launch of the infant formula, Helaina says it will expand to use its precision fermentation proteins in a “variety of consumer products”.
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.