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Israeli food tech BioMilk went public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) this month, becoming the world’s first publicly traded cell-based milk company. The startup produces real cow’s milk and human breast milk directly from cells, and plans to release its first samples over the next two years. BioMilk also revealed it could be eyeing a U.S. IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange as its next step.
BioMilk shares became publicly traded on the TASE under the ticker symbol BMLK earlier this month on April 18, making it the world’s first cultured milk food tech to launch an IPO. The Rehovot-based startup is among just a handful of firms tapping cellular agriculture to recreate real dairy – down to the molecular level – without the need to raise, farm or milk and harm cows in the process.
The company went public via a merger deal with Fantasy Network, a publicly-traded shell corporation, and now sits alongside a number of other Israeli food techs that have landed on the TASE in recent months, among them 3D-printed plant-based startup SavorEat and cultivated meat firm Meat-Tech 3D.
Founded in 2018, BioMilk is an offshoot from over a decade of research by scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Led by Dr. Marganit Levy and Dr. Nurit Argov-Argaman, the biotech is racing to culture real cow’s milk that is free from synthetic or plant additives – a process that is not only cruelty-free, but far more sustainable than conventional dairy.
The investor confidence that we are able to enjoy on TASE will allow us to enhance our development capabilities and bring forward groundbreaking solutions.Nathaniel Benchemhoun, VP Business Development, BioMilk
It also brings health and food safety advantages, with cell-based production slashing the need for antibiotics or hormones.
Commenting on becoming the first cultured milk firm to go public, c, the vice president of business development at BioMilk, told Israeli tech innovation news platform NoCamels: “This is a significant milestone towards the achievement of the company’s goals of accelerating the professional introduction of BioMilk’s technology and making our cultured milk and breast milk products available to the local and the global market.”
“The investor confidence that we are able to enjoy on TASE will allow us to enhance our development capabilities and bring forward groundbreaking solutions,” Benchemhoun added.
Cultured cow’s milk is just one of those groundbreaking solutions the biotech is focused on. It’s also set on cultivating human breast milk with all the complex compositions and immune-boosting qualities found in natural breast milk – taking aim at the enormous US$45 billion global infant milk industry.
TASE is just the first step. But it’s not the end of the road for us.Nathaniel Benchemhoun, VP Business Development, BioMilk
Two other startups are also working in this space. Singapore-based TurtleTree Labs is creating both lab-grown human breast milk and cow’s milk, as well as a separate venture that aims to lower the costs of growth medium for firms across the entire cell-based protein industry.
Women-founded Biomilq is based in the U.S. and is solely focused on disrupting the infant milk business by “farming” human breast milk outside the body.
It’s going to be a long road for all startups in the space to get through the regulatory hurdles before commercialisation. In terms of BioMilk’s timeline, Benchemhoun told the publication that the startup is aiming to produce its first prototypes of cultured cow’s milk within this year, while cell-based breast milk will likely be released in 2022 for testing.
BioMilk is also ambitious to make its presence known globally, saying that its latest IPO move was just the beginning. With its long-term goal to enter multiple international markets, the startup says that a U.S. IPO on the prestigious Nasdaq exchange isn’t off the cards.
“TASE is the first step,” said Benchemhoun. “But it’s not the end of the road for us.”
Lead image courtesy of Libi Katan Naor / BioMilk / NoCamels.