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The Jellatech team. Image credit: Jellatech

Brief: Jellatech lands $3.5m to produce collagen without having to ‘mine the animal’

August 22, 2023

  • B2B biotech company Jellatech has secured $3.5 million in an oversubscribed seed round to build up its business of producing animal-free collagen, gelatin and other proteins.
  • Denmark-based byFounders led the round with participation from Milano Investment Partners, Joyful VC, Siddhi Capital, and Blustein.
  • Jellatech will use the new capital to scale up its cellular agriculture process, make new hires, and eventually commercialize its products.
The Jellatech team. Image credit: Jellatech

Why it matters:

Collagen is wildly popular in the global health and wellness markets right now as an ingredient said to slow aging and improve skin. It’s typically extracted from the skin, bones, and other parts of animals, especially cows, pigs and fish.

Therein lies the issue. Beyond animal ethics, the collagen supply chain has been linked to deforestation and human rights abuses in some parts of the world. In Brazil, for example, 80% of Amazon forest loss is attributed to the cattle industry, and illegal land-grabbing from indigenous communities is on the rise, according to a report from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

That puts the popular bovine collagen in shaking ethical territory for agrifood companies, especially at a time when consumers are demanding more traceability. Corporates, too, are under pressure to decarbonize their supply chains. That makes sourcing collagen linked to rampant deforestation a dubious venture.

Enter Jellatech. Founded in 2020, the US-based startup is developing bio-identical animal proteins beginning with collagen.

In 2022, the company said it had successfully produced collagen identical to its conventional animal-based counterpart using proprietary cell lines. This collagen could in theory be used in pharmaceuticals and food as well as cosmetics and dermatology.

Jellatech will use the oversubscribed seed round to fuel further R&D as well as scale up its cell-ag process and expand its team.

The company said it will also establish “key strategic partnerships” as it travels the road to commercialization.

“Jellatech’s technology unlocks a fundamentally new branch of the tech tree of our species: creating complex proteins from scratch, at scale, without having to ‘mine’ animal bodies,” byFounders investor Magnus Hambleton said in a statement. “Jellatech sustainably and ethically produces large, complex proteins at scale starting with collagen. The impact that this can have is going to be enormous.”

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