May 25, 2022

Miruku, a New Zealand-based food technology company, is using its molecular farming process to program plant cells as mini-factories for producing proteins, such as fats and sugars, that are traditionally made by animals.

The company was founded in 2020 by Amos Palfreman, Ira Bing, Harjinder Singh and Oded Shosev, with backgrounds in dairy or horticulture. An alternative milk protein technology is currently being developed in Miruku laboratories and greenhouses with corporations and R&D partners and is being rolled out in various regions.

The approach involves breeding and manipulating plant cultures to convert their cells into milk proteins, explains CEO Palfreman. It differs from competitors in space in that it uses methods such as precision fermentation, where dairy products are produced in fermentation chambers, and culture chambers, in which animal cells outside the animal are used to produce the building blocks of dairy products.

Miruku excels in growing new crops that turn the actual building blocks of dairy products directly into solar-powered plants. In this sense, the farm produces protein more efficiently than cows, thereby reducing dependence on livestock and eliminating the cow’s role in reducing water, soil and environmental damage.

“Our protein ingredients will make it possible to create dairy products that not only taste and smell like real dairy products, but are also nutritionally equivalent to dairy products,” he said. “They help build and repair your body with the same amino acid building blocks your body uses after eating and digesting a delicious cheese sandwich, and they are used to make and cook delicious things like cheesecakes or gourmet pecorino with real dairy. -subject. ,

One of the challenges in food technology is to create enough proteins, raw materials, or scaffolds to grow a business, and for Miruku, “the challenge is to program a plant to express mammalian proteins in such a way that their structure and challenge is actually an engineering challenge,” Palfreman said.

He explained that scaling plants would be easy: once you’ve created a plant that expresses a target protein, plant seeds to increase production, whether it’s a handful in a greenhouse or hundreds of thousands in a field.

Where this gets a little tricky is in the engineering and breeding of selected traits, which often requires a trade-off between energy consumption and expression levels. However, Palfreman believes that using Miruku computational biology and feasibility studies to model optimal expression levels will solve that side of the scalability equation.

The company is still in development, but Palfreman plans two to three years before Miruku can use its protein in the commercial market. But instead, it will have a prototype and a proof of concept. He hopes the first product will be a collaboration with an existing food company to provide a protein ingredient that the food company will bring to market.

However, Palfriman described Miruku as the first molecular farming dairy farm in the Asia-Pacific region. He joins other companies around the world such as Nobel Foods, which is also involved in molecular dairy farming, Notco, Climax Foods and Perfect Day in developing animal-free technologies to capture the $500 billion dairy market. We have seen some of them receive venture capital funding in the past six months, including:

  • Better Dairy, which makes cheese using its precise fermentation model, raised $22 million in February;
  • Each company that used plants to produce eggs raised $175 million in December;
  • Perfeggt, which also makes plant-based eggs, posted $2.8M in November and increased its seed round to $3.9M this month; As well as
  • Bean cheese company Stockhold Dreamery raised $20 million in September.

Miruku was self-funded by the founders for the first 18 months and now has $2.4 million in seed funding. The investment has been led by Movac and includes Better Bite Ventures, Ahimsa Investments and Aspire Fund.

This will allow the company to “majorly expand” when it finds what it believes are the right partners to help the company engage with customers and set milestones for the next round, which it says will happen in 2023. Take the place of

The new capital will be used to add new technology employees, develop partnerships and accelerate growth programs. Miruku has already doubled its workforce this year, and Palfreman expects to grow every year in the same way.

Miruku was able to quickly catch up with major food companies that partnered with Miruku to develop products together. It will launch development programs in different regions, some of which are related to the environment and climate, while others will focus on product types and partnerships with manufacturers, formularies and brands.

“It is fair to say that we are still at an early stage of development, but it is less accurate to say that we are making rapid progress and gaining great popularity with strategic partners close to consumer markets,” Palfreman said. “Innovation and growth require access to capital, and while we have closed our first institutional round, we expect continued growth in the not too distant future.”

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