TurtleTree Labs, a biotech startup pioneering in cell-based milk, has raised USD 6.2 million in a pre-Series A funding round from Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global, KBW Ventures, and Verso Capital, the company announced on Thursday.
Based in Singapore and San Francisco, TurtleTree Labs claims to be the world’s first cell-based milk company. The startup says it aims to address the value gap created by the insufficient and unsustainable animal-based dairy industry. It will use the fresh investment to accelerate research and production of functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human milk. These components have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition.
“We’re looking at several potential locations that we are evaluating for our pilot plant,” CEO Fengru Lin told KrASIA. “We are also working with partners to scale up the production.” Earlier this year, Lin revealed that the firm was working on building large-scale bioreactors to produce milk in sizeable quantities.
TurtleTree Labs has been able to create milk in their lab and is working with the FDA to obtain a license to launch its lab-grown milk in 2021. “We are following the regulatory development in this field and working closely with authorities,” Lin said. “Singapore is one of the most progressive places in terms of regulatory approval and we are happy to have a presence there. There’s a huge potential as most of the global dairy and infant formula companies have their production plants here in Asia.”
The company further announced that Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, who is the founding chairman of KBW Ventures and investor in the seed round, is joining the startup as an advisor.
Singapore has been at the forefront in the development of cell-based protein. Earlier this month, it became the first country to approve the sale of cultured meat by the food tech company Eat Just. The local startup Shiok Meats is currently in the R&D phase and aims to go to market in the coming years.
(The article has been updated with comments from CEO Fengru Lin.)