2020: A Milestone Year for 20 Moonshot Technologies. What’s next?

Ambitious innovators are tackling the challenges our food system is facing head on. This past year we have admired their ability to adapt, pivot and accelerate the solutions we need to build a stronger and more resilient food system.

Before the flagship summit on March 11-12, Future Food-Tech where we will explore moonshot solutions for a food system under stress, the summit organizers were keen to find out more about notable investments, impressive scale-ups and game-changing regulatory approval that have all contributed to accelerating the moonshot missions of these 20 future-focused companies – and uncover their plans for the future.

Perfect Day’s Chief Scientific Officer, Tim Geistlinger shares their breakthroughs last year and his optimism for the coming year: “2020 was a significant year for us: we raised our Series C, our proteins were Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, we added Bob Iger to our Board, and brought our first products to market (we now have three partners making ice cream with our animal-free whey protein: Brave RobotGraeter’s, and Nick’s). And that’s just the beginning: our lab has made animal-free dairy products up and down the aisle- cheese, yogurt, milk, and butter, just to name a few. We’re seeing real business success from a tiny fraction of what our science is capable of creating, and continue to stay on track to push our technology platform to new highs, ahead of schedule and meeting manufacturing goals.”

Impossible Foods are committed to achieving their mission in 2021 and beyond as Ranjani Varadan, VP R&D shares with us: “It is crucial to the survival of our species that we take a science-based approach to building a sustainable global food system – one that can scale to feed the growing population. Our goal is to foster and lift up a generation of thought leaders that are working to solve the greatest threats facing our planet: climate change and biodiversity loss.”

A new regulatory approval and funding has unlocked new opportunities at 3F Bio as their CEO and Founder, Jim Laird explains: “We believe fermentation and fungi revolutionize the supply of sustainable non-animal protein at scale without the reliance on moonshot uncertainty. We have approved regulatory status and demand commitments for 5,000+ tonnes from leading customers. With the support from a €17m Flagship grant from the EU’s Bio Based Industries our moonshot launch takes off in 2022.”

Impressive funding rounds bring more opportunities and scalability a reality for ambitious entrepreneurs, as Lou Cooperhouse, President and CEO at BlueNalu explains: “Just this January, BlueNalu announced $60M in financing, marking the largest financing to date globally in the cell-based seafood industry. This funding will enable the completion of the world’s first cell-based seafood production facility, allow us to complete our requirements for FDA regulatory review, and initiate marketplace testing in a variety of foodservice establishments throughout the United States. Our 40,000 square foot pilot production facility is anticipated to be completed this fall and will be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspected food facility.”

Increasing production capacity is a key target for many ambitious food leaders to have a bigger impact. Tony Martens, Co-Founder, Plantible details their achievement: “We recently successfully completed the commissioning of our pilot plant which increased our production capacity by 150x bringing us close to the first commercialization of our completely novel protein, Rubi. Our product will be able to completely mitigate the reliance on animal proteins in processed foods (e.g. baking, meat, fish, dairy) while the technology lends itself to be rolled out across the world, democratizing the food supply chain that is currently controlled by 2-3 regions.”

This is a similar approach taken by Culture Biosciences as Will Patrick, Co-Founder and CEO explains: “We continue to scale out our cloud bioreactor infrastructure and we’ve recently launched our system for mammalian cell culture, which opens up the door for customers developing mABs, cell and gene therapy, and cell-based meats.”

Moolec Science is consolidating a unique pipeline of projects and capabilities with more than a decade of development as their CEO and Co-Founder, Gastón Paladini shares: “We feel there’s room for improvement regarding the organoleptic properties and functionality for plant-derived ingredients and we want to avoid scalability concerns that come with cellular agriculture. To overcome these challenges, we will roll out a combination of both concepts that will allow us to make plants efficiently with the unique functionality of certain animal-derived ingredients taking advantage of nature’s biological systems to design a resource-efficient alternative protein production platform.”

BioTech Foods is leading a new project to help tackle major diseases as Iñigo Charola, Co-Founder and CEO notes: “Consumption of red meat is associated with major diseases in western countries such as colon cancer and dyslipidemia. In Spain, specifically colon cancer is the most common in the population taking into account both genders. Research on functional ingredients that can help prevent these diet-related diseases of high social impact is therefore very relevant. BioTech Foods is leading a project that works on healthy lipids that are incorporated in the preparation of the final consumer product (hamburger, sausage, etc.). Reducing consumer exposure to saturated fat could potentially prevent colon cancer and dyslipidemia.”

Companies such as Geltor are meeting the demand for biodesigned ingredients throughout the global CPG industry, as Nick Ouzounov, CTO shares: “At Geltor we biodesign 100% animal-free specialty proteins that already serve as hero ingredients in many beauty products trusted and loved by consumers around the world. We see huge potential for biodesigned proteins in the food and nutrition market, and will use part of the $91.3M we raised last year to further scale our Ingredients-as-a-Service™ platform into this space. We believe our technology can help move the food industry towards more sustainable sourcing practices by developing true-to-nature proteins that don’t tax our planet’s precious resources or rely on ingredients from factory farmed animals. ”

Exciting advancements in fungi protein have enabled Nature’s Fynd to open new opportunities and provide new meat and dairy alternatives as Thomas Jonas, CEO details: “At Nature’s Fynd, we are inspired by nature’s own efficiencies. Our liquid-air interface fermentation innovation grows Fy™, a nutritional fungi protein, and creates a complete protein efficiently at scale, anywhere, 365 days a year. We are now turning Fy into a variety of delicious meat and dairy alternatives, across flavors and cuisines. This is how we’ll ensure our growing population has access to sufficient food, specifically high-quality protein.”

The search for a new fungus has begun for the team at Those Vegan Cowboys who are ready to take the next step towards achieving a moonshot solution. Jaap Korteweg, CEO shares their bounty hunt with us: “We have already had some success with the microbial process, so we know it can be done. Now, we are looking for a fungus that can produce milk proteins way more efficient than the strains we’re currently using. To find this cow-replacing fungus, we set up the largest bounty hunt ever issued in Belgium and The Netherlands. We offered a reward of up to 2.5 million euros for the strain we’re looking for. Since the launch of this bounty hunt, we received many applications. Our lab is currently testing some of those strains. If we’re lucky we already have the ideal strain at hand.”

The ability to recreate animal-based foods using only plant-based ingredients has made NotCo the only company disrupting simultaneously three of the largest animal protein realms: eggs, dairy and meat. Matias Muchnick, CEO and Founder at NotCo shares their recent launch successes: “The possibilities of our artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are really endless. Launching NotMilk in the US nation-wide with Whole Foods back and in November ’20, and our recent NotBurger launch in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, where we become number one plant-based burger just a few months after launch are two examples of how our technology can take us and change the entire food system in the process.”

Increasing efficiency and competing with animal proteins is driving Sophie’s Bionutrients to achieve their objectives as their Co-Founder and CEO, Eugene Wang explains: “We have successfully developed a series of alternative protein from our microalgae that can compete with conventional animal or plant-based protein in price, functionality, and even nutrition but using just a fraction of time, land, water, energy, and all the resources needed previously by conventional protein.”

Driven by their commitment to reduce food waste through technology, James Rogers, CEO at Apeel Sciences details their approach: “Newton looked up to the sky to make discoveries about mass that led to his law of gravity. At Apeel, we looked to nature and saw a database of evolutionary knowledge in every piece of fruit, with lessons on how to sustainably feed our planet. As home to billions, with more on the way, our approach to the challenge of feeding the future means exploring the molecular frontiers inside every bite of food we eat. Apeel’s plant-based technology mimics nature’s own solution for freshness: the peel. For our customers and consumers, Apeel means food stays fresher longer, and has saved millions of pieces of produce from going to waste on store shelves and the consumer’s home.”

For Nora Khaldi, Founder and CSO at Nuritas, creating a disruptive technology at the intersection of tech and life sciences takes dedication and perseverance. She explains  “When you discover a product,  it has to go through the slow scientific and clinical journey of proof points. But now that we have proven our platform technology, we  have  limitless opportunities to create thousands or more of life-changing scientifically proven  health products to improve the lives of billions in a world that is begging for more. Besides the health benefits than we are creating to improve our wellbeing and health-span, creating health promoting products that can satisfy the knowledge based consumers in a more personalized way is now becoming more and more possible through our technology making NπΦ a platform with true moonshot potential.”

Melibio is achieving new milestones as they continue to transform the future of honey, as Darko Mandich, CEO and Co-Founder highlights: “Tasting our latest prototypes of real honey made without bees and becoming aware of how close we are in achieving parity with bee-made honey in terms of taste, aftertaste, mouthfeel, color, viscosity and texture is an amazing milestone for MeliBio. Our technology, once fully developed at scale, will allow us to feed the entire world with delicious and superior sweetener at affordable prices, while making a positive impact on saving 20,000 bee species.”

Benchmarking success for New Culture has enabled them to achieve a “a monumental achievement from the team, especially during the difficult times of COVID,” shares Matt Gibson, Co-Founder and CEO. He adds: “One of the most important metrics in precision fermentation is titer, which measures how much of your target protein your engineered microbe can produce in a given volume of growth media, or per sugar consumed. The higher the titer, the more protein you can produce which usually corresponds to a significantly lower cost. A big 2020 success for the New Culture team has been to achieve the increase in titer of our target dairy proteins by 200x to 2000x.”

Patented technology has enabled Spero Foods to accelerate their mission and to “build the world’s largest dairy company, feeding and healing the world, continuously at the precipice of novel technology and advancements, to profoundly shift the way we eat, feel, and connect with our food.” Phaedra Randolph, CEO and Founder continues “At Spero, we employ patented technology to transform low-cost, healthy ingredients into plant-based dairy. We’re the only company scaling the world’s first mainstream dairy alternatives: delicious, affordable, and available to everyone, everywhere.”

Eben Bayer, CEO and Founder outlines the challenge Atlast Food Co set themselves to accelerate D2C production: “Atlast Food Co.’s foundation is built on over a decade of mycelium technology pioneering. Our team has experience with more than 500 mushroom varieties and extensive engineering expertise. In 2019, we challenged the scientists to make a plant-based whole cut meat from our patented solid-state mycelium fermentation technology, and they did. We took an idea of grown, harvested, sliced, and seasoned plant-based bacon from lab concept to MyBacon™ on store shelves in just under two years.”

What’s on the horizon and the longer-term vision for these impactful innovators?

Short Term:
ABUNDA will be sold as a B2B ingredient and we will launch in mid-2022 with retailers such as M&S and globally recognised brands. We will trade under the name ENOUGH.
Longer Term:
Produce over 1M tonnes cumulatively within 10 years of launch and our plan shows 50k+ tonnes of installed capacity by 2027.

Apeel Sciences
Short Term: What started in 2012 as a concept is today a reality in markets from Fresno to Frankfurt, but we are far from finished. Apeel is expanding to more suppliers, produce categories, retailers and foodservice channels worldwide, while focusing on increasing accessibility to fresh produce in communities that need it most.
Longer Term: Our belief in new discoveries yet to be made in looking to nature only grows, with the goal of unlocking new plant-based technologies to address the great global challenges like food waste, plastic overuse and climate change.

Atlast Food Co
Short Term:
Increase production to 100k lbs; reaching one million pounds by 2022. This will be achieved by converting our partners’ mushroom farms from conventional mushroom production to Atlast production for regional and local distribution.
Longer Term: Scale our production platform to 100 MM lbs of annual capacity– which will start to put a dent in the “whole cut” meat market.

Short Term:
We have outlined a five-phase commercialization strategy that starts with bench-scale R&D, expands to small-scale pilot production and market testing in phase three, and culminates in large-scale food facilities in phase five which can be replicated across the globe. We are currently preparing to enter initial market testing in the next 12-15 months, which will represent the culmination of our phase three.
Longer Term:
We plan to develop our first large-scale production facility in the next 3-5 years

Short Term: Launch a number of new ingredients, including the first-ever animal-free collagen for food and nutrition
Longer Term:. Our goal is to have Geltor-powered products in every consumer’s kitchen, pantry and vanity. We view each new customer we partner with as a step forward in building a more sustainable world.

Short Term:
Launch our first product at the end of 2021, a plant-based honey as an ingredient for B2B companies.
Longer Term: After launching our plant-based honey, we will focus on further developing and scaling our proprietary technology based on bio fermentation.

Moolec Science
Short Term:
We expect the relaunch of our chymosin solution for the cheese market and the introduction of a new by-product resulting from that process for the health & nutrition industry. Also, the filling of new patents for our applied research program and ongoing projects.
Longer Term: We are in the making of our next Molecular Farmed proteins platform for food application (meat, dairy and egg replacements) that will hit the market in the next 2-3 years.

New Culture
Short Term: Grow the team, expand our space and scale our cheesemaking to produce kilograms of cheese to give to chefs and cheese lovers in the Bay Area.
Longer Term:
In 3 years’ time, there will be San Francisco restaurants you can walk into and buy a meal containing our cheese.

Short Term: 
Right now we are focused on consolidating our Latam operation and the launch in the US.
Longer Term: The future looks promising for new categories and different geographies moving forward.

Short Term: 
With the launch of our first ingredients, we are focused on working with food and supplement manufacturers to bring these life-changing ingredients to consumers – in a variety of applications.
Longer Term: The Nuritas technology holds virtually limitless potential and we are excited to explore new frontiers in combination with forward-thinking partners so that Nuritas products are in every home by 2030.

Perfect Day
Short Term: The next 12 months are all about scale, and partnering with companies making the best dairy products out there to create kinder, greener product lines that live up to and complement their existing delicious offerings.
Longer Term: Use the versatility and ingenuity of our existing tech to go beyond dairy, making kinder, greener a reality across the food system.

Short Term:
Optimize our pilot plant in San Diego and to work towards the formal launch of our Rubi protein.
Longer Term:
We aim to build out two production facilities across two different continents in order to start building out our platform and realizing food production democracy.

Sophie’s Bionutrients
Short Term:
Finish setting up our demonstration facility
Longer Term:
Set up our protein production facilities right in the heart of a few major cities in the world and showcase how sustainable this technology can be.

TurtleTree Labs
Short Term:
Send out samples of the highly functional bioactive components we are working on producing and also clinch our first commercial deal in 2021.
Longer Term:
The goal for the company is to be seen as the gold standard for sustainable food technology when it comes to milk production.

We’ll be welcoming the global food-tech innovation ecosystem online for two days of collaboration and partnership opportunities when Future Food-Tech takes place on March 11-12. As Fengru Lin, TurtleTree Labs shares “We realised early on that working alone as a company is never going to suffice. Our greatest success is the discovery of existing technologies through our collaboration with research institutes and other industry players.”

We are ready to unite the food industry, unlock in-depth knowledge and offer unbeatable networking opportunities to scale moonshot solutions for a food system under stress and we hope you will join us.

Contact Elliot Wood or book online at futurefoodtechsf.com/register.