The raw material needed for things like medicine, vaccines and cultivated meat are created in things called bioreactors. There’s a critical need to shrink the cost, increase the supply and diminish the carbon footprint of bioreactors, which is why Future Fields created the EntoEngine™, an approach that uses fruit flies and not giant steel tanks, and is today announcing two major company milestones. Specifically, the company is announcing a $11.2M USD round from a number of notable VCs and government contracts, as well as the launch of its first products outside of serving cultivated meat, targeting multi-billion dollar industries of research, cell therapies and biopharmaceuticals. The funds will provide initial capital to open a world first production facility and scale the team.
The global operating supply of bioreactors is dwarfed by the demand of industries that need them, and this infrastructure problem is only getting worse. In considering the needs of cultivated edible protein alone, ten billion liters of bioreactor capacity will be needed by 2030 and only 61 million liters exist today.
In other words, a 163X supply-demand gap needs to be overcome in less than a decade. The output of bioreactors - recombinant protein - meanwhile accounts for 50-85 percent of the total cost for companies in cultivated meat. And this says nothing of cell therapies, biopharmaceuticals and the larger promise of a ‘bio-based economy’. Today, over 50 percent of new drugs are produced biologically and there is a need to decrease the cost of research and development and fundamentally, of manufacturing.
“We’ve passed a tipping point where it’s scaling, not creating, biotech-based products that is the fundamental hurdle for founders, companies and entire industries,” said Matt Anderson-Baron, co-founder and CEO of Future Fields. “Our approach is 30X faster than tanks and more or less infinitely scalable with minimal investment; this is how we’ve already commercialized our first few products. As we unlock more proteins, we can scale production capacity while continuing to service over 60 companies in cellular agriculture and beyond.”
By using flies, Future Fields has a number of advantages over the traditional industry approach of big steel stanks. It can own its supply chain, quickly add more supply with minimal investment, and drop the energy needs of its factory all while having better control over the quality of its product. Founded first to transform the creation of cultivated beef, chicken and fish, Future Fields is adding a new suite of human recombinant protein products created by its patented EntoEngine™ which target medical research and biopharmaceuticals. Altogether, these include:
PDGF-bb: a clinically approved protein for wound healing and bone graft additive
Activin A: an important hormone in reproductive biology and which not only impacts fertility treatments but also islet cells for transplantation
IGF-1: a hormone that spurs muscle development and maintenance
Prolactin: a hormone responsible for breast milk development
FGF2: a key component of stem cell research with applications in traumatic spinal cord injury, stroke, severe burns and more
“Biotechnology is bubbling with innovation, but to date, little funding has gone to biomanufacturing production infrastructure at scale. Traditional bioreactors are expensive, wasteful, and capacity-limited," said Jim Adler, Founder and General Partner of Toyota Ventures. "It is time for disruptive innovation. We applaud Future Fields’ cost-effective, sustainable, and scalable biomanufacturing platform to fuel biotechnology’s next life-saving inventions.”
The round includes a number of notable venture capitalists and funders. Bee Partners increased their equity stake since the previous round while Toyota Ventures’ investment brings in an additional wealth of knowledge in large-scale manufacturing. A number of notable impact investors also joined this round, including Builders VC, AgFunder, Amplify Capital, Milad Alucozai of BoxOne Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech, Siddhi Capital and Climate Capital.
Future Fields will use the funding to hire key personnel and build out its first production facility, which will enable the production of recombinant proteins at kilogram scale—with just 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The facility will be located right beside its corporate headquarters in Edmonton, Canada and produce proteins for cell culture with a smaller greenhouse gas footprint than existing bioreactor technology.