08/05/2019 – News / Food Processing / Meat-Free Protein / Bio-tech / 3F BIO Ltd / Scotland
Scottish bio-tech firm secures £6.6m funding to advance its ‘zero-waste’, meat-free protein production
3F BIO Ltd, a Scottish biotech company who has set out to tackle the combined issues of feeding a growing global population and the unsustainable impact of traditional protein farming, has confirmed a £6.16m Series A financing round that will be used to scale up and commercialise its innovative zero-waste process.
The funding provides strong support and validation for 3F BIO’s technology, which transforms cereal crops such as wheat or maize into high-quality protein (ABUNDA®) with 3-to-15 times better conversion efficiency than traditional protein sources such as meat from farm animals.
Tapping into a $1-trillion market
The new investment will enable 3F BIO to progress its technology to industrial scale and expand its scope to compete in the global protein market – estimated to currently represent over 350 million tonnes or more than US$1 trillion per year – in order to deliver “a meat-free, high-quality protein similar to the texture of meat, without the environmental footprint”, as the company puts it.
3F BIO’s business model is to work collaboratively, supplying a B2B ingredient to a wide range of potential partners to access the full extent of the growing global market for protein. The company’s vision is to produce 1M tonnes of protein by 2030.
Valuable investor support
The investment was supported by existing investors, including the University of Strathclyde; Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scotland’s main economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise); private investors including Nick Elmslie, former CEO of BP’s Global Petrochemicals business; the EOS Technology Investment Syndicate; the Data Collective (DCVC), a US based venture capital fund; and members of the 3F BIO management team.
“We are delighted by the continuing and increased support from investors,” enthused Jim Laird, CEO at 3F BIO. “The scale of the protein market continues to grow at a pace that cannot be met solely by protein from livestock. We are excited by the opportunities that are created by the transformational resource efficiency in making ABUNDA® mycoprotein. This support from investors will let us accelerate development and commercial activities.”
A successful University of Strathclyde spin-off
Dr David McBeth, Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange Services at the University of Strathclyde, said that having spun out 3F BIO in 2016, the university was “delighted” to have invested in 3F BIO in this latest funding round, which he said he expected to “accelerate the company’s growth in what is an increasingly important market sector”.
“Strathclyde is committed to delivering economic and societal impact from its research and there are few more impactful areas than contributing to the long-term sustainability of food production,” continued Dr McBeth. “We seek practical solutions to urgent global challenges and our continued investment in 3F BIO will support the company in this shared goal. Innovation in manufacturing is one of Strathclyde’s strongest suits and 3F BIO is a great exemplar of this in action.”
Towards realising its true growth potential
Kerry Sharp, head of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “Scottish Enterprise has supported 3F BIO since its early stages via SMART, and through our High Growth Ventures unit. We are pleased to continue to support an ambitious, fast-growing Scottish company, and we look forward to working closely with 3F BIO as it continues to innovate to help it realise its growth potential.”
Founded in 2015, the Scottish firm’s progress to date has certainly proved impressive – and, if scaled up successfully, 3F BIO’s technology could offer a unique and transformative solution to the global protein challenge. Indeed, 3f mycoprotein has a transformative impact when it comes to feed efficiency: every kg of mycoprotein requires only 0.55kg of carbohydrate (starch) feed. This is up to 50 times more efficient than the cow. It also reduces water, land and greenhouse gas emissions by 90-95 per cent relative to beef. Moreover, mycoprotein is of similar protein quality to animal products (with a PDCAAS of 0.99) with a complete amino acid profile, but with lower fat and calorie content relative to meats. This offers an important win-win for nutrition: high-quality protein without the negative health impacts of meats.
Such efficiencies not only have a disruptive impact in terms of environmental footprint, but also in terms of protein costs, making it more accessible to more of the population. 3f bio mycoprotein aims to deliver the lowest cost, most sustainable protein on the market. “Ensuring affordable, high-quality proteins break into lower-income and growing markets is essential to ensure all have equitable access to nutritious diets, as well as incentivising consumers at a global level to transition from meat and animal products,” the company said in a statement.