‘India’s first’ animal-free precision fermentation start-up, Zero Cow Factory, has announced that it has raised $4 million in a seed round.
The round was co-led by Green Frontier Capital, GVFL and pi Ventures, with participation from the investment arm of Spanish dairy group Calidad Pascual, Pascual Innoventures.
Founded in 2021, the biotech company uses bioengineering microbes and precision fermentation to produce sustainable animal-free milk proteins and dairy products.
Zero Cow Factory says the funding will enable the company to accelerate its R&D efforts, scale-up production capacity and obtain regulatory approvals in order to enter the market. It will also be used to accelerate work on building the company’s pilot facility in Gujarat to be ready for commercial production.
Parini Kapadia, co-founder and CSO of Zero Cow Factory, said: “We are developing a technology to reproduce milk proteins to craft real dairy products that are ethical, safe, delicious, and identical to cow milk but without any animal involved”.
The company has developed a patented technology to produce dairy proteins, such as whey and casein, and states that “it is highly focused on animal-free casein production which is the most complex protein and hasn’t been commercialised by any company globally”.
Shubham Sandeep, MD at pi Ventures, commented: “Zero Cow Factory’s use of cutting-edge bioengineering and life science-based technologies to change the future of food production aligns well with our investment thesis of backing disruptive tech ventures”.
Zero Cow Factory’s aim is to be the first company to get global regulatory approval for its A2 beta-casein product, which can be used to formulate various foods such as cheese, yogurt and supplement powder.
Sandiip Bhammer, co-managing partner and founder at Green Frontier Capital, said: “With cattle being the number one agricultural source of greenhouse gases, precision fermentation start-ups have the potential to disrupt the dairy industry globally…Zero Cow Factory, is working assiduously on developing its own proprietary A2 casein-based solution, a weakness which plant-based ingredients have not yet been able to address successfully.”
The company considers its animal-free ‘Smart Protein’ as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk protein as it is free of lactose, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol and saturated fat. It says that compared to conventional dairy farming, the technology requires 99% less land and 98% less water, reduces CO2 emissions by 84% and consumes 65% less energy.
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