North Carolina-based biotech startup, Jellatech, recently announced an oversubscribed seed funding round of $3.5 million, aiming to increase its cell-based collagen production and diversify its protein portfolio. The fundraising comes on the heels of the company’s significant achievement of creating fully functional human collagen to complement its existing bovine and porcine collagens.
Nordic VC firm byFounders led the seed funding, with notable contributions from Milano Investment Partners, Joyful VC, Siddhi Capital, and Blustein. Jellatech's plans for the capital encompass scaling up production, forging essential partnerships, and introducing its animal-free proteins to sectors such as healthcare, personal care, biomedical research, and food and beverage.
Jellatech's co-founders have expressed their enthusiasm and commitment to leverage this funding to further their mission. By ramping up production and refining their technology, they aim to make cell-based gelatin and collagen not just an alternative, but the new industry standard.
Founded in 2020, Jellatech initially concentrated on developing cell-based collagen and gelatin—two animal-derived proteins with vast industrial applications. Their innovations include a full-length, triple-helical collagen from their unique cell line, mirroring conventional sources in function. By March, the firm showcased its cell-based human collagen, opening avenues for use in tissue engineering, arthritis treatments, regenerative medicine, 3D bioprinting, and even dermal fillers. This achievement bolsters Jellatech’s claim of further expanding its protein lineup.
The broader context of Jellatech's mission underscores the ethical and environmental predicaments associated with conventional collagen production. Recent investigations link a significant portion of cattle farms, primarily dedicated to collagen production, to the Amazon's deforestation—a pressing environmental crisis contributing substantially to climate change and biodiversity loss. Such activities not only increase global greenhouse gas emissions but have also been associated with violence against indigenous Brazilian forest communities.
In the face of these challenges, Jellatech addresses a burgeoning market. The global collagen market's valuation stood at a whopping $9.12 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow by 10.2% annually through 2030. However, the collagen sector isn't free from scrutiny. While many tout collagen's purported benefits for hair, skin, nails, and joints, potentially delaying aging, institutions like the Harvard School of Public Health urge caution. They highlight that much of the supporting research originates from industry stakeholders, thus potentially biased.
Contrastingly, some studies underscore the advantages of consuming foods that stimulate collagen production rather than direct collagen intake. Foods rich in components such as vitamin C, zinc, copper, silicon, and certain amino acids have been linked to promoting healthy collagen synthesis.
In wrapping up, Jellatech's successful funding round is more than just a financial boost; it signifies a paradigm shift in how industries and consumers perceive product ingredients. In a world increasingly leaning toward sustainability and ethics, Jellatech is leading the charge, proving that innovation can indeed go hand in hand with responsibility. As they continue their journey, they're not only creating proteins but also sculpting the future of sustainable and humane production.