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Launched this month, Jellatech is a new biotech startup specialising in creating animal-free and slaughter-free collagen and gelatin by growing cells in a bioreactor. The company says that its ingredients will be purer, safer and more sustainable than its conventionally-made counterparts, and can be applied to remove animals from multiple supply chains, from the food sector to cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina with an R&D base in Wageningen, Netherlands, home to one of Europe’s leading food science centres, Jellatech is a new biotech firm focused on producing pure animal-free collagen and gelatin. Created by two female co-founders, Stephanie Michelsen and Kylie van Deinsen-Hesp, the startup wants to leverage cellular agriculture to eliminate the use of animals in the manufacturing of these ingredients.
Instead of isolating and purifying collagen and gelatin from animals we grow it – using cells in a bioreactor. We don’t require acres of land, live animals, shipping, slaughtering and various complicated processes to produce collagen.Stephanie Michelsen, Co-Founder & CEO of Jellatech
These two ingredients – collagen and gelatin – are widely used across F&B, skincare and cosmetics and medical and pharmaceutical industries, and make up a global market worth US$3.5 billion dollars with a compound annual growth rate of 9%, making the opportunity for disrupting its animal-dependent supply chain huge.
“Instead of isolating and purifying collagen and gelatin from animals we grow it – using cells in a bioreactor. We don’t require acres of land, live animals, shipping, slaughtering and various complicated processes to produce collagen,” explains CEO and co-founder Michelsen. “With our proprietary method we design, grow and purify collagen and gelatin, all in the same place.”
“Because we have complete control over all stages of the process, the collagen we produce will also be safer, purer, and of higher quality than that extracted from animal carcasses,” adds co-founder and head of science van Deinsen-Hesp.
According to Jellatech, who is supported by New York and Singapore-based accelerator and venture capital fund Big Idea Ventures (BIV) and Sustainable Food Ventures, an alternative protein-focused rolling fund launched by Wild Earth co-founder and CEO Ryan Bethencourt and former food scientist at Finless Foods Mariliis Holm, the new company is the world’s first dedicated cell-cultured collagen and gelatin ingredient startup.
Speaking about the investment, Bethencourt said: “We’re excited to be investing and backing two incredible scientist entrepreneurs on a mission to end the use of animals for collagen and gelatin in the cosmetics and food industries, using cell-based alternatives to animal products is a game changer for our planet and for the animals.”
Because we have complete control over all stages of the process, the collagen we produce will also be safer, purer, and of higher quality than that extracted from animal carcasses.Kylie van Deinsen-Hesp, Co-Founder & Head of Science at Jellatech
“Jellatech’s approach eradicates the traditional complex steps to purify, concentrate, and dry gelatin from fish skins, bovine bone, and porcine skins,” remarked Andrew D. Ive, managing director and general partner at BIV.
While specifically the first cell-cultured collagen and gelatin ingredient startup, Jellatech is not the only player working to create slaughter-free alternatives for traditionally animal-based ingredients. Biodesign startup Geltor, for instance, uses fermentation technology to create protein ingredients that are clinically demonstrated for high performance and have managed to develop a number of collagen replacement products including HumaColl21 and Collume.
On the heels of its headline-making US$91.3 million Series B funding round, the company says it will be expanding its “Ingredients-as-a-Service” platform in order to meet the growing demand from global consumer goods companies for animal-free ingredients, driven by increasing consumer preferences for ethical and environmentally-friendly products.
Lead image courtesy of Jellatech.