Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Foray Bioscience Raises $3M to Restore Forests With Plant Cell Culture Tech

Boston-based Foray Bioscience, a startup leveraging plant cell culture to restore forests and, thus, secure plant supply chains, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by the Australian VC ReGen Ventures.

Other participants, including Engine Ventures, Susquehanna Sustainable Investments, Understorey, Superorganism, and additional investors, backed the biotech in this round, bringing its total to $3.875 million.

“We believe plant cell culture is a critical and underutilized tool for plant conservation, restoration, and production”

With a background in plant-based materials research from MIT and Draper Laboratory, Dr. Ashley Beckwith (CEO) founded Foray Bioscience in 2022 to build biomanufacturing tools to protect and restore the natural ecosystem. Beckwith says that nearly 40% of assessed plant species face extinction and points out that more than 16 million acres of forest, an area larger than West Virginia, were lost worldwide only in 2022.

With the new capital, the startup will expand its predictive platform for the immense diversity of plant cells, launch product development projects with select partners, and grow its team.

Dr. Beckwith shared, “We believe plant cell culture is a critical and underutilized tool for plant conservation, restoration, and production. With Foray’s technology, our goal is to make biomanufacturing accessible across species and applications by significantly reducing the barriers to entry.”

Amazon deforestation
© Rhett Ayers

Biomanufacturing forests

According to ReGen Ventures, trees and forests add more than a trillion dollars to the global economy each year and impact nearly every part of our daily lives, from the air we breathe to the textiles we wear and the skin care products we use. However, increasing global demand for tree-derived products, the consequences of climate change, and escalating natural disasters are putting unprecedented pressure on our forests.

Here is where Foray comes in. Its novel technology cultivates plant cells outside the plant in a controlled environment to produce valuable compounds like molecules, materials, and seeds.

Parker Hughes, Principal at ReGen Ventures and Foray Board member, shared, “Foray is reimagining the manufacturing of plant products. The company’s versatile approach will build much-needed resiliency into our plant supply chains and solve persistent seed deficits in the reforestation sector.”

Since each plant species has unique characteristics affecting how its cells grow, the startup has developed a database that can predict plant cell behavior and growth requirements for specific plant species, overcoming the hurdle of plant diversity. This data-driven approach could streamline research and development in plant biomanufacturing, says the innovative startup.

Beckwith adds, “Our platform is powered by a first-of-a-kind predictive database and advanced optimization strategies that will improve success rates, shorten development timelines, and make plant cell culture accessible to the 99% of species that remain largely unexplored in biomanufacturing today.”

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