Applications for San Francisco (Batch 12) extended AGAIN through September 30th, 2021!

How the “good” unicorn NotCo plans to make an even bigger impact on climate change

In an interview with Forbes “How NotCo Is Saving The Planet By Making Plants Taste Like Meat,” NotCo (IBSF05 2017) co-founder and CEO Matias Muchnick describes their process for using artificial intelligence algorithms to replace animal-based foods with sustainable plant-based alternatives. He also explains how the disruptive nature of their product has led the company to “be better” in all areas, including operations, supply chain, and packaging. Getting its start in the SOSV IndieBio program, NotCo has been funded by the likes of Tiger Global, Jeff Bezos Expeditions, and celebrities Lewis Hamilton, Roger Federer, and DJ Questlove, among others. Now valued at $1.5B, the company falls into the rare category of “good” unicorn, meaning it operates in service of at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. NotCo addresses two—responsible consumption and production and climate change. 

To reach maximum impact on climate change, Muchnick says the mass market is the key: “The thing is, if we just do a super plant-based, vegan, trendy, hipster well-being brand, we’re not going to move the needle of sustainability. We need to make a technology that will allow us to produce food products faster, better, more accurately, at less cost while using less resources. We need to be a mass market company, not niche.”

Khosla Ventures leads IndieBio’s Vertical Oceans’ seed round

TechCrunch reports that Indiebio’s Vertical Oceans (SOSV IBSF11 2021) raised a $3.5 million seed round led by major Silicon Valley fund Khosla Ventures with additional support from SOSV. Vertical Oceans aims to grow sustainable shrimp in huge ‘aqua towers’ inside cities explains how the funding will allow Vertical Oceans to scale its “location agnostic” shrimp farming method facility near downtown Singapore. 

Discussing how Vertical Oceans will compete in the $50 billion-a-year shrimp market, CEO John Diener said, it  “tastes like fresh shrimp from the ocean, that’s really hard to achieve consistently in a recirculating aquaculture system. Because our product is so high-quality and fresh, we can sell on par with fresh wild-caught versus farmed frozen shrimp. This higher price more than offsets the costs of going vertical and urban.”

Catalog Technologies raises $35 million series B

TechCrunch reported the DNA-based data storage platform Catalog Technologies (SOSV IBSF04 2016) has raised $35 million in series B funding. Led by Hanwha Impact with additional support from Horizons Ventures, this round brings Catalog’s total raise to approximately $60 million. The article reports that the company’s “energy-efficient, cost-competitive, and more secure data storage and computation platform,” uses synthetic DNA to solve the problems of conventional electronic media. With the goal of commercialized use in 2025, the platform is expected to be used for “fraud detection in financial services, image processing for defect discovery in manufacturing, and digital signal processing in the energy sector.”

Speaking about the future of the platform, Nick Ha, vice president of Hanwha Impact Partners said, “Catalog’s technology represents a viable pathway to solve the issue of not only mass data accumulation and preservation but more importantly, the effective usage of data.”

Sequential Skin raises $1.65 million seed round

Yahoo! News published news that  Sequential Skin raised US $1.65M in oversubscribed seed round to revolutionise skin health with their novel skin microbiome testing kit

Sequential Skin (SOSV IBNY02 2021) provides personalized skincare by using advanced genetic sequencing technology to analyze how genes, skin microbiome, and the environment interact and affect an individual’s skin.

Led by Metaplanet and joined by Scrum Ventures, SOSV, Genedant, and angel investor Ben Holmes, the press release explains “the funding will significantly boost their IP portfolio, using their novel patch-based, skin analysis, to develop further tools to understand how your genetics, epigenetics, and skin microbiome, affect health and disease.”

About Sequential Skin’s mission, the company’s CSO and co-founder Dr. Albert Dashi said, “Our scope is to provide science to people and empower them with the right tools and knowledge so they make the right decision for the future of their skin health and well-being.”

UPSIDE Foods prepares to scale cell-based meat production for the world to see (and eat)

This recent article in The Economist “Meat no longer requires animal slaughter” explores the burgeoning cultured meat industry with a focus on UPSIDE Foods (SOSV IBSF02) and its founder and CEO Dr. Uma Valeti. 

The article tracks the emergence of  lab-cultured  proteins, like chicken, as a response to the moral issue of animal slaughter as well as the dire impact of animal husbandry on greenhouse gas emissions. The Economist wonders if firms like Upside Foods can attract consumers, and points out that Upside is shifting its focus from science to trust-building and education, starting with giant windows at its new facility in California’s East Bay through which the public can view production of lab-grown protein.

Excerpts from the article: 

“Today Upside Foods and its backers hope that lab-grown meat will not shield the revolution, but be the revolution—and in a much more appealing way. The company has broken ground on a new production facility in California’s East Bay. It is not alone. Nearly 100 firms are vying to be the first to bring cultured meat to market. Select locations—including a private club in Singapore and a test kitchen in Tel Aviv—serve it from time to time. But as yet it remains unavailable to the average diner.

“It is not hard to see why investors are excited. Demand for meat and fish is soaring, particularly among the rapidly growing middle classes in parts of the developing world. Making that meat the old-fashioned way uses a lot of land and produces giga-tonnes of greenhouse gas. Much of the fish people want is not caught sustainably, and some comes from endangered or threatened species. Plant-based substitutes can meet some of the increased demand, but currently they only really compete with processed products such as those based on mince. Growing meat directly from animal cells offers a way of squaring the circle, while also satisfying the moral demands of consumers uneasy about factory farming and animal slaughter. But it is a hugely ambitious undertaking.”

New Wave Foods’ shrimpless shrimp ready for prime time

Forbes’ article “Can Shrimpless Shrimp Catch Mainstream Consumers?” outlines the product development and funding story of SOSV IndieBio alum New Wave Foods, one of the first vegan seafood suppliers attempting the difficult-to-produce snap and flavor of shellfish. The article reports New Wave’s commitment to plant-based shrimp has held steady as the alternative seafood market has gone from “barely selling” to earning $500 million in funding.

With the help of $18 million in series A funding from America’s largest meatpacker, Tyson Foods, the startup’s first commercial-ready plant-based shrimp is being distributed to restaurants across the country. Watch this video interview with New Wave Foods CEO Mary McGovern, filmed while a chef prepared a dish using their product.

Aanika Bio founder to appear in Hulu’s “The Next Thing You Eat”

From lab-grown fish to burger flipping robots, Hulu’s new six-episode docu-series “The Next Thing You Eat” will explore the changes in what we eat. To help advance that discussion, co-founder and CSO Ellen Jorgensen of Aanika Bio (SOSV RebelBio) joins an episode to explain how they use microbes to trace and authenticate products in the supply chain. The show premieres on October 21, but you can see the trailer here (Jorgensen appears at 1:57).

SOSV’s Perfect Day raises $350 million, reaches $1.5 billion valuation

The Wall Street Journal broke an exclusive on Perfect Day’s big fund raise and planned IPO. Perfect Day launched in Cork, Ireland in 2014 as part of SOSV’s now retired Rebel Bio program, and SOSV was its first investor. From the Wall Street Journal story:

“Perfect Day Inc. raised $350 million in a late-stage funding round, valuing the non-animal dairy startup at roughly $1.5 billion and setting the stage for an initial public offering.

“Singapore’s Temasek and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board led the Series D funding round for the California company, co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi told The Wall Street Journal. Other investors include Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Robert Iger.

“Since its founding in 2014, Perfect Day, which uses fermentation technology to produce animal-free dairy proteins and counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio as an adviser, has raised $750 million.”

Huue founders on Inc. list of most inspiring women of 2021

The business magazine Inc. just named Huue (IndieBio) founders Tammy Hsu and Michelle Zhu to its Female Founders 100. Inc. recognized the two founders for their development of planet-friendly microbe-based dyes that are scalable for denim manufacturing. The editors did a great interview with the Oakland-based duo about the global need for Huue’s technology and why they feel confident in the firm’s ability to scale. Here are a couple of the best moments:

“The fashion industry is aware of its challenges—its troubled supply chain and the toxic nature of the dyeing process. It hasn’t been difficult to get people really excited about the technology and potential.” —Michelle Zhu

“We’ve made a lot of progress to scale up our production with a couple of facilities around the U.S. and to make our microbes more efficient. In August, we were producing 80 times more dye than at the end of last year.” —Tammy Hsu

IndieBio’s New Age Meats raises $25 million series A

To stand out in the increasingly crowded cultured-meat market, Berkeley-based New Age Meats, an IndieBio alum, aims to provide “the best of both worlds: the sensory experience and irreplaceable flavor of meat that’s safer and more sustainable than conventionally-grown meat.” That message helped the company raise a $25 million series A, according to a story published in TechCrunch today.

TechCrunch reported that Hanwha led the round and was joined by SOSV’s IndieBio, TechU Ventures, ff VC, and Siddhi Capital. CEO Brian Spears told TechCrunch that the company can now “go after our mission to become the largest and most innovative meat company on Earth,” and plans produce the company’s first product, pork sausage, next year.

SOSV HAX alum Opentrons raises $200 million, reaching $1.8 billion valuation

IndieBio’s fellow startup development program, HAX, just recorded a big win, as reported by Bloomberg in “SoftBank Invests in Robotic Company Behind NYC Covid Testing. HAX alum Opentrons Labworks Inc. raised $200 million in round led by Softbank to reach a valuation of $1.8 billion. The Brooklyn-based, laboratory robotics company used its automated systems to decrease Covid-19 testing result times from 14 days to 24 hours and reduced test costs from $2,000 to $28. Opentrons “has grown to support a community of more than 1,000 scientists and 46 countries.” Other participating investors in the funding include Khosla Ventures and ex-Pfizer Inc. CEO Jeff Kindler.

“Biology opens the door to solve many of humanity’s grand challenges. For far too long, scientists and clinicians have been locked-in by slow, expensive, and overly complex lab solutions that underpin their work.” —Brennan-Badal, Chief Executive Officer, Opentrons

Nyoka Design Labs helps engineer the world’s first bioluminescent gaming PC

In this video from from PCGamesN, “World’s first bioluminescent gaming PC is impractically beautiful,” Linus Tech Tips and SOSV IndieBio startup Nyoka Design Labs collaborated on a project to make a gaming PC glow while it cools. Nyoka is a startup that aims to use bioluminescence as a cleantech alternative to the air-polluting fluid contained in glow sticks. The PC cooling project was a fun side challenge. But don’t try this complicated build at home, kids. As explained in the video, “the fluid’s micro-particles could also damage your CPU block. So, while bioluminescent PC lighting is mesmerising, it’s unlikely to replace your usual coolant.”

SOSV HAX’s Opentrons is center stage in New York City’s rapidly growing life sciences sector

NY1 published a segment “How New York City is expanding its life sciences industry” featuring Opentrons, an SOSV HAX startup. If you’ve ever taken a COVID-19 test in New York City, it’s highly likely your sample was processed by Opentrons, a Brooklyn-based company that builds lab robots for biologists. And this is by design—pegged as a key to New York’s economic recovery, the life sciences industry has received $1 billion investment and support from the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Mayor Bill de Blasio to attract new businesses, capital, and jobs. This week Opentrons received a $200M investment led by Softbank, boosting the company’s value to $1.8B.

“Beyond all our traditional industries, beyond the tech community that has grown so successfully in New York City, we need to build up life sciences. This is the future.” —New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio