TurtleTree Labs Closes Oversubscribed US$6.2M Pre-A Round For Lab-Grown Breast Milk

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TurtleTree Labs, the world’s first startup to develop lab-grown milk with the same composition as real dairy milk without any cows, has just announced the closing of an oversubscribed US$6.2 million Pre-A funding round. The Singapore-based startup says it will be using the capital to accelerate its research and production of cell-based human milk targeted for applications in both infant and senior nutrition. 

Announced today (December 17), TurtleTree Labs has raised US$6.2 million in an oversubscribed Pre-A funding round. The round saw participation from major global alternative protein investors, including Green Monday Ventures, the investment arm of Hong Kong’s plant-based group behind OmniFoods and Green Common; Vancouver-based future foods investment issuer Eat Beyond Global; Saudi Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud’s KBW Ventures; and Verso Capital, who lists Impossible Foods and Eat Just amongst its portfolio companies. 

The vision of TurtleTree Labs is to create a truly sustainable and cruelty-free food system. We are grateful to have the support of leading investors from every corner of the world.

Max Rye, Co-Founder & Chief Strategist, TurtleTree Labs

The biotech, which currently has offices in both Singapore and San Francisco, says it will use the funding to scale its research and production of “functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars” within human milk using cellular agriculture technology. According to TurtleTree Labs, these components could have value in benefiting gut and brain health, making them suitable for applications in both infant and senior nutrition. 

Commenting on the latest round, TurtleTree Labs co-founder and chief strategist Max Rye said: “The vision of TurtleTree Labs is to create a truly sustainable and cruelty-free food system. We are grateful to have the support of leading investors from every corner of the world.”  

Co-founded in 2019 by Fengru Lin and Max Rye, TurtleTree Labs is Asia’s only startup using 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 – one of only two startups in the world focused on cultured infant milk, with U.S.-based Biomilq being the other. 

The company’s Pre-A funding comes on the heels of multiple injections of capital in recent months amidst the coronavirus crisis, including winning both the US$500,000 grand prize at the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWS) and the S$1 million (US$718,800) awarded by Temasek Foundation as part of the The Liveability Challenge 2020. 

“TurtleTree Labs’ groundbreaking technology, which allowed our company to win The Liveability Challenge and Entrepreneurship World Cup, has certainly attracted interest from a global and diverse panel of investors and customers,” said Fengru Lin, CEO of TurtleTree Labs.

Both wins came shortly after the company completed a US$3.2 million seed round in June, which attracted Green Monday Ventures, KBW Ventures and Sydney-based alternative investment management firm Artesian. 

TurtleTree Labs’ groundbreaking technology, which allowed our company to win The Liveability Challenge and Entrepreneurship World Cup, has certainly attracted interest from a global and diverse panel of investors and customers.

Fengru Lin, Co-Founders CEO, TurtleTree Labs

At the time, the company said it will go towards constructing a pilot product in Singapore and to scale-up its biotechnology solution for slaughter-free lab-grown milk with full functionality from all mammals. 

Alongside its Pre-A funding announcement, TurtleTree Labs also revealed that Prince Khaled will be joining the company as an advisor, to “shape new market growth plans” and “lend his expertise in the alternative protein and food tech spheres”. 

HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures

Headquartered in one of Asia’s key strategic food tech innovation hubs, Singapore, where regulators gave the world’s first approval for cultured protein, TurtleTree Labs is well-positioned to be amongst some of the earliest startups to be able to launch its products on the market. 

Eat Just, the San Francisco food tech, has already won the race to make the first-ever sale of commercial cultured meat to a restaurant in Singapore, which is slated to serve the company’s cell-based chicken this Saturday (December 19). 

Singapore-based startup Shiok Meats, the maker of cell-based seafood, is also a strong contender to be among the early players to launch on the market. It recently secured an impressive US$12.6 million Series A funding round back in September, which it says it will use to build its first commercial pilot plant for cell-based minced shrimp by 2022, and has debuted the world’s first prototypes of cultivated lobster last month. 


All images courtesy of TurtleTree Labs.


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