Investments & Finance

Pow.Bio Raises $9.5M to Reduce the High Costs of Animal-Free Ingredients

Californian biomanufacturing company Pow.Bio has announced a $9.5 million raise in a Series A round to run what it claims is the first-ever AI-controlled, automated continuous fermentation platform for precision fermentation ingredients capable of reducing biomanufacturing costs. 

Re:Food and Thia Ventures led the round, joined by Hitachi Ventures, the venture capital arm of Hitachi. Possible Ventures, XFactor Ventures, Bee Partners, iSelect, Climate Capital, Vectors Angel, Better Ventures, and Cantos supported the CDMO in this round.

“Early on, we identified continuous fermentation as a necessity to enable cost-competitive, sustainable food production. We are excited to partner with Pow.Bio because of the strength of their continuous platform, the quality of their team, and their commitment and vision for a more sustainable SynBio future,” said Peter Odemark, co-founder and managing partner at Re:food.

Pow.Bio banner saying "intelligent fermentation"
© Pow.Bio

Founded by Ouwei Wang and Shannon Hall in 2019, Pow.Bio argues that animal-free ingredients are not yet commercially viable, and that fermentation capacity at scale has been pinpointed as the culprit. However, according to the company, its continuous fermentation technology resolves the economic viability of biomanufacturing by considering the profitability units and not only the capacity.

Pow.Bio’s automated continuous fermentation platform is said to yield five times more productivity while requiring only a fraction of the capital expense compared to traditional systems. “By running a fermentation process more like an assembly line, we see multi-fold increases in productivity without contamination or drift,” says Wang.

Getting to market

Pow.Bio also has announced that with the new capital, it will construct “a state of the art” microbial fermentation pilot plant in Alameda, California, that will showcase the potential of its platform in driving down the high biomanufacturing costs significantly to achieve price parity with animal ingredients.  

” …. at a lower price, a wider array of products can actually get to market”

The new facility will serve as a blueprint for the commercial-scale production of various animal-free ingredients, offering partner companies hundreds of kilograms of finished products or gram-scale experimentation, explains the company.

A precision fermentation facility
© Pow.Bio

By 2040, the bio-ingredients market is expected to reach an estimated value of $4 trillion. However, the high cost of fermented ingredients compared to animal-based commodities reduces the commercial viability of these novel products — limiting the sustainable impact of such a promising technology, says the company.

“We achieve two really valuable goals: we can build more capacity at a fraction of the cost, and that capacity can perform its job better by making products at a lower price – and at a lower price, a wider array of products can actually get to market,” says Hall, who is also CEO of Pow.Bio.

>> Click here to go to Cultivated X where you will see a familiar layout and a focus solely on content regarding cellular agriculture, including fermentation-enabled products, and with more granular categories.

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