Zero Cow Factory Raises $4 Million for Its Precision Fermentation Casein
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Zero Cow Factory, India’s first precision fermentation dairy producer, has secured $4 million (INR 32 crore) in a Seed funding round led by Green Frontier Capital, GVFL, and Pi Ventures, with participation from Pascual Innoventures.
Zero Cow Factory’s new funding is expected to speed up R&D efforts, scale up production capacity, and obtain regulatory approvals to hit the market.
The startup, which launched in 2021, is currently focused on animal-free casein production, the most complex dairy protein, and hasn’t yet been commercialized by any company globally. The company’s first product is A2 Beta-casein, which is also healthier than A1 milk protein, linked to indigestion.
According to Zero Cow, the company’s aim is to be the first to receive global regulatory approval for this protein. This will be used to formulate various sustainable food and dairy products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, protein powder, and more.
“We are excited to partner with our investors’ outstanding setup and combine them with our talented team, which positions us uniquely to lead the way in building a global dairy 3.0 that is animal-free, sustainable, and scalable,” Sohil Kapadia, co-founder, and CEO of Zero Cow Factory said in a statement.
Parini Kapadia, co-founder, and CSO of Zero Cow Factory says the company is developing a technology to reproduce milk proteins in order to “craft real dairy products that are ethical, safe, delicious, and identical to cow milk but without any animal involved.”
Sandiip Bhammer, Co-Managing Partner and Founder at Green Frontier Capital says that with cattle being the leading agricultural source of greenhouse gases, precision fermentation startups have the potential to disrupt the dairy industry globally. “If the world (and India) has to achieve its net zero goals, there needs to be a pivot rather quickly to sustainable solutions like precision fermentation and, in that regards, Zero Cow Factory, is working assiduously on developing its own proprietary A2 casein-based solution, a weakness which plant-based ingredients have not yet been able to address successfully,” he said.
Kamal Bansal, MD at GVFL says Zero Cow Factory is “at the forefront of innovation” in the alternative protein space.
Shubham Sandeep, MD at pi Ventures said, “Zero Cow Factory’s use of cutting-edge bioengineering and life science-based technologies to change the future of food production aligns well with our investment thesis of backing disruptive tech ventures.”
The company’s animal-free “Smart Protein” is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk protein as it is free of lactose, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Moreover, compared to conventional dairy farming, it is far more sustainable, requiring 99 percent less land, 98 percent less water, emits 84 percent less CO2e, and consumes 65 percent less energy.
The company has already demonstrated proof of concept at lab scale with a small bioreactor producing animal-free casein. With this funding round, Zero Cow will accelerate work on its pilot facility in Gujarat to be ready for commercial production.
Zero Cow Factory is already in discussions with multiple companies across the CPG, dairy, and nutraceutical sectors who have shown an interest in partnering with the company to formulate various products using Zero Cow Factory’s milk proteins as ingredients while replacing milk in their supply chain.
Multinational food companies are interested in the precision fermentation space. California’s Perfect Day, which has led the category, has partnered with a number of high-profile manufacturers including Nestlé and Mars, and is in discussions with Unilever.
Food giants are also looking to cell-based tech as well. Earlier this week, Danone led a $3.5 million funding round into Israel-based Wilk, which manufactures human breast milk from cellular samples.