SAN FRANCISCO — Food technology startup Michroma has raised $6.4 million in seed funding to accelerate commercialization of its fungal food colors platform.
“We are poised to meet consumer demand for healthier and more sustainable food without petroleum-based ingredients,” said Ricky Cassini, co-founder and chief executive officer of Michroma. “Unlike the current generation of unstable natural options, like betalains, carminic acid and anthocyanins, Michroma is producing better-performing natural colorants powered by fungi. This next stage of our development will help us industrialize our fungal platform and enable the world’s transition to natural colors.”
Founded in 2019, Michroma’s first product is a red colorant produced using synthetic biology and precision fermentation. Red+ is temperature-resistant and stable across the entire food pH spectrum, withstanding intensive processes such as pasteurization, cooking and extrusion, according to the company.
“By combining a unique fungal chassis strain with precision fermentation, we are capable of producing high-value complex molecules with high yields previously unseen in the biotech industry,” said Mauricio Braia, PhD, co-founder and chief science officer of Michroma.
Michroma is negotiating agreements with ingredients suppliers for global distribution of Red+ and plans to submit color additive petitions to the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority. The startup said it will expand research and development capabilities and broaden its ingredient portfolio to include additional colors, flavors and fragrances.
The seed round was led by Supply Change Capital, a fund backed by the corporate venture capital arm of General Mills, Inc. New investors include Be8 Ventures, backed by global food company Dr. Oetker, and CJ CheilJedang, a Korean conglomerate and supplier of fermentation-based bioproducts.
“We see compelling market and consumer potential for Michroma’s fungal platform to create next-generation natural ingredients, from colorants to flavors, that are healthier and more sustainable while maximizing production efficiency,” said Noramay Cadena, managing director of Supply Change Capital and Michroma board member. “We are excited by the speed and skill with which they are building out their capabilities. Even more so, in light of the current disruption of supply chains globally, we believe Michroma is laying the foundation for the sustainable ingredients of the future.”Additional investors are FEN Ventures, Boro Capital, The Mills Fabrica, Portfolia’s Food & Ag Tech Fund, New Luna Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Groundswell Ventures and HackCapital, as well as angel investors Allen Miner, Jun Ueki and Steve Zurcher from the Keiretsu Japan Forum, Guillermo Rosental, Franco Goytia, Pablo Pla and Mat Travizano. Existing investors participating in the round are SOSV’s IndieBio and GRIDX.
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