Chinova Bioworks, a food tech startup with a novel food preservative, has raised a $2 million seed round from AgFunder, DSM Venturing, the venture arm of the global nutrition and health company, Rhapsody Venture Partners, an early-stage science and engineering investor in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Natural Products Canada, a not-for-profit organization with a vision to make Canada flourish as the Silicon Valley of natural products.
Chinova Bioworks has discovered a natural preservative for food and beverages using chitosan from mushrooms that can be customized for individual food and beverage companies.
Chitosan’s antimicrobial properties are well known, but their effectiveness as a natural preservative has been limited. Chinova has developed proprietary technology that produces Chitosan with the molecular characteristics to be at least as effective as traditional synthetic preservatives, while maintaining its status as a completely natural product.
“Consumers are demanding natural ingredients in their foods and beverages,” said CEO Natasha Dhayagude. “Chinova provides an entirely natural preservative that is both highly effective and broad-spectrum .”
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Chinova’s ability to produce an effective and totally natural product was a key consideration for AgFunder in deciding to invest in Chinova, said AgFunder CIO Michael Dean, “Chinova is one of a new breed of companies such as MycoWorks, Terramino Foods, and MycoTechnology that are unlocking the enormous potential of mycelium. While the food and beverage industries are Chinova’s initial focus, their proprietary technology to fractionate chitosan molecules to produce a customized, highly effective and natural anti-microbial product provides them with numerous multi-sector applications, which is incredibly exciting”.
Food and drink products are affected by a range of different microbes including bacteria, yeast, and mold. Chinova can provide both effective broad-spectrum spoilage protection from several types of microorganisms, or can be customized to target a specific microorganism the producer is having issues with.
The startup, which is based in New Brunswick, Canada, has already validated the product with several leading food companies and will use the funding to scale production to meet demand.
“Chinova has been working with small to medium-sized food and beverage producers as well as many multinationals in the industry,” said Dhayagude. “These clients are really looking for customized preservative solutions that have no organoleptic impact on their food and beverage products which is what Chinova offers.”
It will also use the funding to build the team, with its first major hire set to be a senior process control engineer.
Founded in April 2016 by Natasha Dhayagude and COO David Brown, Chinova has already received a pre-seed investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, SOSV, and the First Angel Network.
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Image: Future Food-Tech