Ironic Biotech Raises €1M for Precision Fermentation-Derived Plant Proteins with High Iron Content

Swedish startup Ironic Biotech has received €1 million for its plant-based proteins, which are designed to facilitate the absorption of iron into the blood.

Ironic’s proteins are produced by precision fermentation and used as ingredients for food or food supplements. The funds will be used for further development work, the expansion of the company’s patent portfolio, and the optimisation of the production process. The team is now looking for partners in the food and supplement industry with whom to collaborate.

Addressing the performance gap

Up to 25% of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency, which can lead to severe fatigue, tiredness, heart palpitations, learning difficulties, and anaemia. “We want to help 2 billion people prevent and recover from iron deficiency and anaemia. Iron deficiency is partly responsible for the performance gap between men and women, as women naturally lose iron on a regular basis,” says Dr Nélida Leiva Eriksson, CEO and founder of Ironic Biotech

Humans absorb iron through food and iron supplements, with red meat being the most typical source of iron, as iron from plants is poorly absorbed. As women are eating a more plant-based diet, the problem of iron deficiency is increasing in the female population.

“The situation is largely unaddressed – a sad story that applies to many female health issues, iron deficiency being no exception,” she adds. “I know what iron deficiency can do to a person because I was one of the millions of women who suffered from it.”

Ironic Biotech's high iron-content Product
© Ironic Biotech

Problem / solution

Often iron supplements have undesirable side effects such as digestive problems, nausea, and even organ damage if the iron is not absorbed by the body before it reaches the digestive tract. Unlike many current dietary supplements, Ironic Biotech’s patented compounds have no side effects, according to the company, making them a suitable ingredient for plant-based foods and dietary supplements.

“Concern about iron absorption is also a major barrier to reducing the consumption of red meat”

The compounds are neutral in flavour and can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time due to their stable form. The absorption rates are comparable to those of iron in meat. This also offers a solution for companies looking for ways to adapt their products to a predominantly plant-based diet.

“New ingredients like these allow the food industry to tackle a global health issue with new products. Concern about iron absorption is also a major barrier to reducing the consumption of red meat in the Western diet. Turning a fundamental innovation like this into reality takes effort, talent and a little time. As an early investor, we are working closely with the team to build a solid foundation for success,” says Louise Heiberg, Investment Director at Nordic Foodtech VC.

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