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December 6, 2023
Each month, New Hope Network rounds up the must-know investments in the natural products industry. Through Nutrition Capital Network, New Hope Network editors follow investment news to see what financial moves could significantly influence the industry and identify trends with funding support. Check back each month to see the latest investments that caught our eye.
This November's notable investments mirrored much of what we see daily in the news—the rise of artificial intelligence or AI. Our industry is not immune to AI and has already seen many businesses use the new technology. AI will help enhance many aspects of the food and beverage industry and streamline processes. AI could help combat climate change, discover new solutions quicker and increase accessibility to resources. Read on to see the AI technology investors are investing in.
Cambrium, a Berlin-based company, has raised €11 million ($11.6 million) to expand its operations in designing sustainable and scalable structural proteins. The company's initial product, NovaColl, is a modified collagen derivative that can stimulate collagen production better than natural collagen without sourcing from animals. Cambrium uses AI to design proteins, focusing on structural proteins for high-value, low-volume industries such as personal care, offering more sustainable options. Essential Capital led the funding round, and Cambrium is already shipping NovaColl to customers for testing in their products.
Biotech startup Triplebar has secured $20 million in a funding round led by Synthesis Capital, bringing its total funding to $25 million. The California-based company employs a "hyper-throughput" screening platform using microfluidics, rapid testing and AI to optimize biomanufacturing platforms for microbial and animal cells. Triplebar's technology allows for the rapid screening of millions of mutations, accelerating the evolution process and enabling the development of more efficient biomanufacturing for various applications, from low-cost animal proteins to therapeutic biologic drug candidates. The funding will support Triplebar in expanding its collaborations and partnerships with companies such as FrieslandCampina Ingredients and Umami Bioworks
Flavrs, an iOS shoppable video app for food enthusiasts, adds a takeout feature and AI-powered recommendations through a custom integration with OpenAI. The app, founded by former YouTube executive Alejandro Oropeza and ex-Google engineer François Chu, initially allowed users to discover recipes and shop for ingredients. With the new changes, Flavrs lets users shop for ingredients and order takeout directly from the app, linking with services such as Instacart and Uber Eats. Additionally, Flavrs utilizes AI to personalize video content across various food categories, making it a comprehensive platform for discovering, shopping and ordering food-related content.
Signos, a metabolic health platform, has secured $20 million in a Series B funding round led by Cheyenne Ventures and Google Ventures, with additional support from Dexcom Ventures and Samsung. The platform utilizes AI and continuous glucose monitoring to offer real-time data and personalized recommendations for healthy weight management. Signos aims to address the obesity and metabolic health crisis, particularly in the United States. The funding will expand the team, enhance the platform and conduct further research on metabolic health despite challenges such as hiring and the cost of CGM technology.
Sunnyside, a mindful drinking app, has secured $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Motley Fool Ventures. The funding will support the launch of "Sunny," an AI-mindful drinking coach that generates recommendations for Sunnyside's team of human coaches. The app, available for $99 per year, helps users track their daily drinks, offers personalized coaching, and features a community chat for sharing experiences. Since its launch in 2020, Sunnyside claims to have helped over 200,000 people reduce their drinking by an average of 32%, cutting out 13.5 million drinks and saving users over $50 in the first month.
TechBrew Robotics, based in British Columbia, Canada, has rebranded as 4AG Robotics and secured $17.5 million in equity financing. The company addresses labor challenges in the mushroom industry with its autonomous harvesting robot. The robot, designed for indoor mushroom farms, autonomously scans mushroom beds, picks ripe mushrooms, trims the stems, and places the produce in containers for sale, operating continuously for more than 24 hours without human intervention. 4AG Robotics aims to become a global leader in indoor agriculture robotics, starting with the mushroom industry, which faces labor shortages impacting supply and demand in Canada, the world's eighth-largest mushroom producer.
L-Nutra, a nutri-technology company focused on longevity science nutrition programs, has successfully closed a $47 million first tranche investment in its Series D fundraising round. Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna Inc., and Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles, California-based investment firm, led the investment. L-Nutra, founded in 2009 by the University of Southern California and Valter Longo, a professor who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from UCLA, aims to enhance healthy aging and metabolic health through its Nutrition for Longevity pipeline, ProLon, and its Nutrition as Medicine pipeline, L-Nutra Health. The funding will support the global expansion of ProLon and increase access to the company's diabetes remission program.
Keychain, a CPG manufacturing platform, has secured $18 million in a seed funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Founded by Jordan Weitz, Umang Dua and Oisin Hanrahan, who co-founded Handy, the platform employs AI to streamline connecting brands with manufacturing partners. Keychain's goal is to reduce the time it takes for CPG companies to find suitable manufacturing partners from months to days, fostering innovation in product development. The platform, which is available on an invitation-only basis for now, plans to open to select retailers and brands in the coming year, with aspirations to expand its services to cover the entire manufacturing process, including sourcing, onboarding and compliance.
Heali, a startup emerging from stealth mode, offers a personalized nutrition app designed to simplify health management through evidence-based nutrition protocols. Co-founder and CEO Kyle Dardashti, who has Crohn's disease, experienced improved health by adopting a dietary protocol. Heali's app features proprietary dietitian-led guidance, AI-powered scanning for safe meal options, and a diverse recipe library searchable by medical conditions, health goals and dietary preferences. Having raised $3 million in seed funding, the company plans to expand its offerings, including one-on-one health coaching and custom meal kit delivery options.
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