Food Fermentation Startup Farmless Raises $1.3M In Pre-Seed

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News in brief: Farmless raises $1.3 million to fund its non-animal-based protein fermentation startup. It eyes a 10-year timeline to completely revolutionise the food industry.

Farmless is a startup that aims to reduce environmental impact of food production by cutting down on traditional farming operations. It raised $1.3 million (or €1.2 million) in a pre-seed round to get its idea running.

The investment came from Revent, Nucleus Capital and Possible Ventures with participation from HackCapital, Sustainable Food Ventures, VOYAGERS Climate-Tech Fund, and TET Ventures. Angels involved include Jenny Saft through the Atomico Angel program, Ron Shigeta, Martin Weber, Rick Bernstein, Nadine Geiser, Joy Faucher, Michele Tarawneh, Alexander Hoffmann and Christian Stiebner.

In an interview with TechCrunch, the startup’s founder, Adnan Oner, claimed that they are using the early funding to find necessary microbes, set up a lab, and build a team. It will also use it to develop a product prototype.

Farmless’ approach relies in fermentation process based on renewable electricity and it is starting out with protein production. However, Oner said that they would take on the challenge of bigger fermentation vessels as well as building a supply chain. In addition, the startup could try creating an entirely new food range.

“The Farmless fermentation platform can potentially create a whole new food repertoire, producing proteins, carbohydrates, beneficial fats, vitamins, and minerals from the bottom up,” the founder revealed.

How does Farmless fermentation process produce food?

Fermentation is not a new process in food making. For example, bread, beer, wine, cheese, yogurt, and more are made through fermentation. It typically means transforming food to a new form using bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

Farmless says that its approach is not so different. Also, it is not the first company that is working on non-animal-based protein food. Tracxn lists several companies in this article and claims there are more than 344 of their types in the world as of April 2023.

However, Farmless process is unique because it not basing it on sugar like other plant-based protein startups. Instead, it is relying on liquid feedstock that contains CO2, hydrogen and renewable energy. This approach makes it able to in much less space than animal protein production and plant-based ones.

Even more appealing is the claim that their products will be low-cost while favouring the environment. Although, it is not all rosy from here on.

Despite finding the right microbes that taste and act like animal proteins, there is no way for a public sampling of the initial product. The Dutch-based startup needs to get a favourable vote from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) first to even allow public tasting and feedback.

Then, there is the company’s heavy reliance on infrastructure. Oner forsees challenges in raising capital and hopes for assistance from the government.

“Typical venture capital wants a high return on investment, which does not match with infrastructural projects. These bridges need to be filled with project financing, ideally with governmental support to increase the transition to a more sustainable and affordable food system just like we did for renewables and electric vehicles,” he said.

Farmless sees animal agriculture as a facet that needs to be phased out and classes it with fossil fuel. Not everyone agrees though as we saw in the case of Italy’s agric minister.

Obinna Onwuasoanya
Obinna Onwuasoanya
Obinna Onwuasoanya is a tech reporter of over five years, fiction writer, SEO expert and an editor. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria, and was previously shortlisted for the Writivism Short Story Prize 2018.

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