TurtleTree said with so many food tech companies emerging, dedicated talent and resources needed to reach commercial scale are scarce.
The company said microbes such as yeast and fungi are perfect tools for bio-manufacturing. Precision fermentation uses microbial hosts as cell factories to produce specific beneficial ingredients in a controlled environment without having to go through animal agriculture.
However, it added, efficient precision fermentation and product recovery at an industrial scale demand agility, flexibility, experience, unique multidisciplinary processes and equipment engineering, and a connected network of bioprocessing and microbial biotech partners.
Turtle Tree said many startups believe major breakthroughs in the lab will result in the real-world commercialization of bioproducts, but the reality is many projects run into years of roadblocks and scale-up challenges making commercial viability difficult.
It said there is a major difference between traditional fermentation methods, where the microbial biomass itself is the end product, and precision fermentation, where the specific desired bioproduct is synthesized by the microbial host.
A key factor in reaching price parity with traditional food production methods is the availability of technologically-advanced large-scale food-grade bioprocessing facilities, which combine precision fermentation and downstream processing lines customized for each player.
Based on a Good Food Institute (GFI) report, available biomanufacturing facilities suitable for food precision fermentation is only 3% of the total manufacturing capacity. With the increasing demand for large-scale precision fermentation, TurtleTree said the supply is already falling short.
Alex Berlin, Solar Biotech founder, CEO and CTO, develops and scales up bioproducts, which TurtleTree said it identified early on, built a strong collaboration model, and made an investment in Solar Biotech.
“TurtleTree’s decision to back Alex Berlin and Solar Biotech's team from the early days has started to pay dividends. Our teams can focus on lab-scale R&D and go-to-market as we look to play a major role in the sustainable food supply chain, while Solar Biotech delivers the bioprocessing technologies required for production at scale,” said Max Rye, co-founder and chief strategist of TurtleTree.
Berlin said, “My team and I are passionate about not only producing the food of the future but also about making a difference in the way these bioproducts are made. Industrial Biomanufacturing at scale has not evolved significantly for decades. We are committed to making a difference, in particular, with a focus on the deployment of unique cutting edge and sustainable bioprocessing technologies. We believe solar energy and a circular economy strategy will play a major role in how we produce novel bio-processed ingredients.”