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Singapore bio-milk maker TurtleTree raises $30m in Series A funding

November 2, 2021

Biotech startup TurtleTree has raised $30 million in the first tranche of its Series A round. Luxembourg-based merchant bank and asset manager Verso Capital was the lead investor.

In a statement, TurtleTree said that other “worldwide” investors participated in the tranche, without disclosing their identities. The latest capital injection takes its total funding to date to $40 million.

Verso had previously invested in TurtleTree’s $6.2 million pre-Series A round in December 2020.

Launching in 2019, the Singapore-headquartered startup set out to develop ‘better-for-you’ and ‘animal-free’ milk and dairy products by cultivating proteins from mammal cells.

Its initial focus was on recreating human milk in the lab, to offer mothers more sustainable breastmilk or formula replacements, as well as ‘growing-up’ milk for toddlers.

TurtleTree’s purview later expanded to growing milk components, such as proteins and complex sugars, with a view to developing functional ingredients with wide-ranging potential health and nutritional benefits aimed at adults as well as children.

Earlier this year, the startup established a B2B unit, TurtleTree Scientific, to work with third-party cultivated meat and dairy companies in order to produce affordable food-grade growth factors and cell culture media.

Last month, it opened an R&D facility in Sacramento, California, to hone its precision fermentation technology and produce dairy proteins such as lactoferrin, which it says offers “proven benefits for immune system function, gut health, and cognitive development.” The startup expects its cell-based lactoferrin be its first commercially available product.

The Series A funds will allow TurtleTree “to scale up our processes and come a huge step closer to creating a new era of sustainable nutrition,” said co-founder and CEO Fengru Lin.

Some of the capital will be devoted to hiring talent, while tech development and expansion of the company’s nascent product portfolio will also be strategic priorities.

“The funding received has truly opened up a new world of possibility. We can now set our sights on turning ambitions to reality, starting with our US-based expansion plans and then moving on to the development and manufacture of our first consumer-ready products,” said co-founder and chief strategy officer Max Rye.

Julien Machot, managing partner, at Verso Capital, said he and his firm “highly value TurtleTree’s unique positioning in the industry and its farsighted mission of creating a sustainable and cruelty-free food system.”

“After developing a deep understanding of the company and its team, we are confident in TurtleTree’s potential as a cell-based technology platform that will transform the food industry. Verso Capital will share its wealth of knowledge in corporate finance and operations to help the company validate its unit economics and the overall business plan with its very first key accounts,” he added.

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