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Imagindairy team
The Imagindairy team. Image credit: Imagindairy

Israel’s Imagindairy closes $13m seed round to commercialize cow-free milk proteins

November 17, 2021

Israeli alt-milk startup Imagindairy has raised $13 million in seed funding, it announced today.

MoreVC led the round, with participation from Collaborative Fund, Emerald Technology Ventures, Entrée Capital, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, New Climate Ventures, S2G Ventures, Strauss Group, and French businessman Pierre Besnainou.

Several of these investors joined CPT Capital and FoodSparks by PeakBridge in Imagindairy’s pre-seed round earlier this year; the proceeds from that raise are included in the figure announced today, the startup said.

Imagindairy uses precision fermentation techniques to create “true” milk proteins – including, in particular, casein and whey, two of the key compounds responsible for the taste, texture, and other archetypal properties of cow’s milk and its derivatives.

The Tel Aviv-based startup offers its “proprietary” fermentation technology, which it says is “based on a systems and synthetic biology platform,” to manufacturers in the food industry, allowing them to develop their own alt-dairy products.

As it “feeds microorganisms instead of cows,” Imagindairy argues that it is able to avoid many of the ecological pitfalls, including greenhouse gas emissions, of traditional dairy cattle production. It claims that its microorganisms are up to 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feedstock into human food.

The tech is the result of 15 years of research at Tel Aviv University led by Imagindairy co-founder and chief science officer Tamir Tuller.

“The market is eager to develop new dairy analogs based on our animal-free proteins,” said Eyal Afergan, co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

“Once we reach commercialization, more consumers will be able to enjoy eating animal-free dairy products. It’s hard for people to make big changes, especially when it comes to the foods they enjoy, but when there’s an alternative with the same flavor and experience that is more aligned to their values, it becomes easy.”

Plant-based cheesemaker Nobell Foods nets $75 million from AgFunder, Andreessen Horowitz, and Breakthrough Energy – read more here

Without naming names, Imagindairy says it is working with several “leading” dairy companies to create “cow-free, sustainable milk and dairy products with all the nutritional values of dairy milk.”

Glen Schwaber, partner at MoreVC, said in a statement that the startup’s “innovative technology allows dairy companies to develop new products or reformulate existing products, without involving animals and with a dramatic reduction in carbon footprint.”

“They have the technology to produce the dairy products of the future that consumers want today,” he added. “We are incredibly impressed with the expert team and their strong R&D and scale-up capabilities.”

Imagindairy said it will use the seed funds to grow its team, expand its headquarters, and boost its R&D capacity.

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