Israeli startup BioMilk, the groundbreaking food tech company that develops technology to produce cultured cow and breast milk, opened trading for its initial public offering on Sunday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).
Founded in 2018 by Nurit Argov-Argaman and Maggie Levy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, BioMilk develops lab-cultured cow milk from mammary cells. The company aims to produce milk that approximates the composition of commercial cow milk, free of synthetic or plant additives, and with a lower hormone and antibiotics content than that the traditional product. BioMilk is also in the process of producing a lab-made replica of breast milk, which includes the production of complex carbohydrates found in human milk that support the development of the immune system.
Animal-free food products, such as cultured meat and cultured cow’s milk, have the potential to overcome various environmental, health, and ethical challenges. But while many companies around the world, including in Israel, have tackled the cultured meat market, the cultured milk field is a less developed industry that is only beginning to make a name for itself.
There are really only three viable cultured milk companies in the world, including us, says BioMilk VP of business development, Nathaniel Bechemhoun. “Two of them are very young. We are the only company that has reached developmental stages,” he tells NoCamels.
One of those companies, Biomilq, an American student-led firm with a similar name and similar mission, may provide some competition to the Israeli firm, but it estimates its product will be available to the public only by 2025.
BioMilk, meanwhile, has used knowledge acquired from ten years of research by scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to develop its tech, Bechemhoun explains.
The Ramat Gan-based biotech firm is now the first and only publicly listed cultured milk company in the world.
In February, BioMilk completed a merger with Fantasy Network, a publicly-traded shell company. Upon completion of the transaction, BioMilk shareholders received approximately 65% of Fantasy Network’s shares as well as rights to the shares, which will increase subject to compliance with milestones. The current market cap of the company is NIS 270 million (USD 82.8 million.)
BioMilk is one of eight food tech companies and partnerships currently listed on the TASE.
“This is a significant milestone towards the achievement of the company’s goals of accelerating the professional introduction of BioMilk’s technology and making our cultured milk and breast milk products available to the local and the global market,” said BioMilk CEO Tomer Aizen in a statement. “The investor confidence that we are able to enjoy on TASE will allow us to enhance our development capabilities and bring forward groundbreaking solutions to the local and the global market.”
The desire to go public happened for a few reasons, according to Benchemhoun. Besides the fact that this is a “favorable” time for companies to go public on the American and the Israeli stock exchange, Benchemhoun says the deal also provides a good opportunity for growth.
This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.