(Written by Ahmed Khan, editor of CellAgri.)
New Culture recently announced that they raised $3.5 million to complete their seed round financing. Based in San Francisco, New Culture is a startup that uses cellular agriculture to make dairy cheese without requiring cows. By designing microbes to produce the same proteins found in cheese from a cow, New Culture can make the same cheese. Without requiring the cow.
New Culture’s seed round of funding was led by Evolv Ventures, the corporate venture arm of the Kraft Heinz Company. Other investors in the round include Bee Partners, Mayfield, CPT Capital, Boost VC, and SOSV. SOSV is the venture capital firm behind the life science accelerator IndieBio, where New Culture and many other cellular agriculture startups first emerged.
New Culture and Mozzarella
In a recent interview, CEO and co-founder Matt Gibson shared how his upbringing led him to enter the acellular dairy space. “Being from New Zealand, where dairy is our biggest export, I’ve been around it my whole life and have seen the damage it can cause to the environment as well. And so that was the big reason why I got into dairy.”
According to Gibson, New Culture is focusing on cheese because “there’s a large gap in quality between dairy cheese and vegan cheese.”
Specifically, New Culture is focusing on making mozzarella. “There is no good vegan substitute for a fresh ball of mozzarella. That’s what we’re making: a fresh, hand-made ball of mozzarella that people can serve on salads, on pizzas, or by itself.” Mozzarella is also the most consumed type of cheese in the United States.
Cellular Agriculture and Dairy
When entering the cellular agriculture field, Gibson saw a clear opportunity in dairy for New Culture. “The first thing I looked at was why are there so many companies working on cell-based meat and so few companies looking on the other side of the coin, which is dairy. And I’ve never really gotten a good answer to why that is.”
New Culture is the second startup after Perfect Day to raise millions in funding focusing on animal-free dairy products. In February, Perfect Day raised their Series B financing before launching a limited release of their animal-free dairy ice cream this summer.
Another company, Motif FoodWorks, is a spinoff from synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks that is looking to produce animal proteins, such as dairy proteins, to improve the flavor and texture of plant-based products. Motif recently announced they raised an additional $27.5 million Series A extension round after raising a massive $90 million in February.
“We’re driving towards this mission of revolutionizing the dairy industry. It’s been an absolute blast so far.” With the completion of their seed round, New Culture can start to do just that with their animal-free dairy cheese.
New Culture plans to use the round of funding to set up an R&D and fermentation facility in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as expand their team. They aim to bring their first commercial product from lab to market in the next four years.
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My name is Ahmed Khan, and I am the Editor of CellAgri. Please subscribe to my email newsletter at www.cell.ag to get the latest research and news about cellular agriculture, which I share exclusively with my email subscribers. We are regularly tweeting out interesting articles and thoughts via twitter @Cellagritech
Originally published at medium.com on September 11, 2019.