Evolve BioSystems announces investment from Cargill and Manna Tree for infant gut health probiotic
US microbiome company Evolve BioSystems has announced that it completed a first close in a $55m Series D round of funding, led by Cargill, the global food, agricultural, financial and industrial products company and Manna Tree, an investment firm committed to improving human health.
The new capital will be used to help the company continue commercializing a next generation of probiotic capable of addressing a widespread deficiency in the infant gut microbiome.
"We are thrilled to announce our newest investors as we continue our quest to address this health crisis in newborns," said Timothy Brown, CEO of Evolve BioSystems.
"Our research found that more than 90% of infants in the US are missing the critical bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), which is widely documented as a key component of the infant gut microbiome. The financial support announced today, which includes strong continued support from our earlier investors, will help continue our mission to make a healthier future for our children during infancy and beyond."
Evolve BioSystems manufactures Evivo, a proprietary probiotic proven to resolve infant gut dysbiosis, or Newborn Gut Deficiency. Evivo is comprised of activated B. infantis EVC001, which studies have shown guides critical development of infants' digestive and immune systems.
Evivo restores this missing bacterium to the infant gut microbiome, reducing potentially pathogenic bacteria by 80% as well as significantly reducing intestinal inflammation. These pathogens are linked to higher risk of both short- and long-term health issues including colic, diaper rash, eczema, asthma, allergies and Type 1 Diabetes.
"Evivo, Evolve BioSystem's innovative infant probiotic, has been proven to have a dramatic impact on the developing infant gut, and to guide long-term health trajectory. This round of financing will continue to raise consumer and health care practitioner awareness, while supporting continued research and development. We are proud to partner with innovators like Tim and the entire Evolve team who are at the forefront of food and biotechnology," said Gabrielle "Ellie" Rubenstein, co-founder and CEO of Manna Tree.
"This important investment is at the very core of our mission at Manna Tree - investing in human health."
The health benefits of Evivo are documented through numerous clinical studies and peer-reviewed publications. The investments of Manna Tree and Cargill come on the heels of the most recent breakthrough in the Evolve research, the U.S. Microbiome Survey, recently published in Scientific Reports. The research shows that nine out of ten US infants are suffering from Newborn Gut Deficiency, increasing risk to early infant health and development. The study is the largest to date to benchmark the widespread levels of potential pathogenic bacteria in U.S. infants and the substantial deficiency of B. infantis.
"Evolve BioSystem's Evivo has the potential to be a highly distinctive probiotic for infants and we are delighted to work with them to scale its impact," said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill's health technologies business.
"Our goal is to help humans live more healthy days right from the start. Together, we can harness our respective expertise and knowledge in nutrition, digestive and immune health to bring next generation ingredient solutions to our customers."
Through its collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Evolve BioSystems is currently involved in a clinical trial at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh to assess the impact of Evivo on infants who have been diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.
As part of the investment, Cargill and Manna Tree will serve as lead investors and join the company's board of directors. Other Evolve BioSystems investors in this round include Horizons Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., Spruce Capital Partners, Acre Venture Partners and Bow Capital. Evolve was spun-off from the Foods for Health Institute (FFHI) at the University of California, Davis in 2014.
Brexit issues leaving bitter taste, says UK cheese company
Empty shelves and disrupted supply chains will continue unless the food and drink sector get the support it needs to trade under new Brexit rules.
This is according to UK businessman Michael Harte, who said even companies that stock-piled ahead of the December 31 end of transition deadline are struggling, with cashflow tied up in stock that cannot be delivered to customers or held up at ports.
Harte, managing director of Bridge Cheese, said even though a deal had been struck, imports and exports were far from smooth and new rules were causing chaos and confusion for many businesses, especially those moving food products with a short shelf life.
“We prepared and prepared well in advance of the end of transition, but the fact is that many of our suppliers and customers are seeing the real impact of the last-minute deal and very little support,” Harte said.
Bridge Cheese, based in Telford, supplies cheese to the food manufacturing and foodservice sectors with the majority of product coming into the UK via Ireland.
“While we were pleased the Government managed to strike a deal with the EU over food import/exports, the fact that it was officially announced when most businesses were breaking up for the holidays, meant we had no time to digest or raise questions about the new rules and protocols before they became law on January 1.
“As a result, there has been significant disruption to the supply chain already. At the moment, companies need to fill in the same amount of paperwork for shipping a whole container of cheese as they do for a small pallet of cheese. It just doesn’t make sense and it’s costing small businesses particularly, time and money while they try to figure it out.”
He spoke following a report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which warned that increased friction at the border would lead to delays and rising prices.
Harte said he believes without more support for the food and drink industry, millions of pounds worth of produce will be wasted and UK businesses will be left counting the cost.
“It’s the same story as it is for the UK’s fishing industry. Cheese products are arriving back at the depot, having been turned back at the border because of widespread confusion over the new rules. It’s not a sustainable way to do business.
“Couple this confusing export red tape, with the effects of yet another national lockdown and this could be a really tough year for the country’s food and drink manufacturers.”
But Harte said with the right kind of support, the tide could turn for the better.
“I think we are at the lowest ebb and I am hoping that it will get better with more guidance to get us through the transition period.
“We have been lucky at Bridge Cheese that we are agile enough to adapt our approach to new markets while imports/exports are tough, but not everyone can be as flexible. Businesses will go under unless help is made available.”
Tate & Lyle expands allulose sweetener portfolio
Tate & Lyle PLC, a global provider of food and beverage ingredients and solutions, has expanded its Dolcia Prima allulose portfolio with a crystalline form certified as 'Non-GMO Project Verified.'
This provides manufacturers with the opportunity to increase the number of retail products bearing the Non-GMO Project Verified label and certification.
With 50% of US consumers stating that non-GMO claims are an important factor when seeking out foods to purchase (IFIC 2018 BE research), Tate & Lyle said food and beverage manufacturers need to offer clean label products consumers can trust.
“By expanding the Dolcia Prima allulose line of Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients, Tate & Lyle is adding another tool to its extensive portfolio, ensuring that our customers can respond to growing consumer demand for healthier, tastier and clean label products,” said Abigail Storms, vice president of sweetener innovation at Tate & Lyle.
Allulose is a naturally-occurring, low-calorie sugar that exists in nature in very small quantities. It delivers the same sweet taste and functionality as sugar (sucrose) but without the calories.
The crystalline form – together with the recently launched Non-GMO Project Verified Dolcia Prima allulose syrup – enables manufacturers to broaden the use of allulose across a range of food and beverage applications.