New Zealand is the world's biggest exporter of dairy and has a strong legacy in food production. Miruku said it is applying pioneering innovation to crop development and dairy ingredient formulation aimed at helping farmers and food systems to pivot to more sustainable production.
The start-up is developing animal-free proteins in its own labs and greenhouses and through farmer, corporate and R&D partnerships. Its molecular farming platform is designed for scale and implementation across geographies.
Miruku uses a molecular farming process utilizing plant cells as ‘mini factories’ to produce proteins, fats and sugars that have until now, only been sourced from animals. Miruku's technology will enable the development of traditional dairy products like cheese and yogurt and open the possibility for new product formats. The company said it sees itself at the intersection of future food, biotech and agriculture, a fast-emerging space placing sustainability and ecology at the forefront of its focus.
The investment round was headed by New Zealand venture capital fund Movac and includes Asia Pacific investor Better Bite Ventures, Colorado-based Ahimsa Foundation, and NZ Growth Capital Partners via their Aspire fund.
Miruku was established in 2020 by CEO Amos Palfreyman, a former dairy industry executive; Ira Bing, a technology and life science investor; Dist. Professor Harjinder Singh, an expert in milk protein science and technology; and food tech and molecular agronomy innovator Professor Oded Shoseyov.
Shoseyov said, "Miruku's breakthrough plant technologies hold potential to produce animal-free milk proteins cost-effectively. Plants lie at the bottom of the food chain. Miruku cuts out the middlemen (cows) which convert plant energy (sugars) to proteins. Instead Miruku produces its proteins directly in the plants themselves. This is an elegant approach to energy and production efficiency and this efficiency is better for soil, water and atmosphere. Plant based food systems with improved protein functionality can contribute materially to balancing human and ecological needs."
Movac partner Mark Stuart said, "Miruku has a world class team with standout capability across agronomy, food technology, molecular biology, and computational botany. In addition to unique capabilities in protein innovation and plant biotechnology, the company is forming remarkable big corporate and research partnerships that reinforce its model for scale and impact. Miruku is doing this through collaboration with exceptional innovators in dairy science in both Israel and New Zealand."
Michal Klar's Better Bite Ventures has invested in several alt protein start-ups. He said, "Miruku's founding team has the powerful mix of scientific expertise and entrepreneurial drive. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact the Miruku technology will have on our food system."
Palfreyman said, "We share a vision that applies the sharp edge of applied science to agronomy and food tech, at scale, with global partners. Our goal is to provide nutritious and functional animal-free dairy, economically. The Miruku team is amped to have been joined by a special set of local and international institutional foodtech investors backing our vision of delicious and ecologically sustainable food production, and of course our growth plans."