- Cell-cultured dairy company TurtleTree just closed a $30 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Verso Capital and brings the company's total funding to almost $40 million.
- The Singapore company, which opened a new R&D center in Sacramento, California, in September, plans to use the money to continue expanding its product portfolio, technology development and R&D team. These measures, the company said in a release, should help it scale up its research and production of functional ingredients.
- TurtleTree Labs was founded in 2019 to use cell cultivation technology to create functioning mammary glands to make human breast milk. The company broadened its product portfolio to include dairy ingredients this summer, and its first product will be human lactoferrin.
TurtleTree was founded to use biological sciences to solve an extremely complex problem in food. Milk — from both humans and cows — has many diverse proteins and is a challenging entity to replicate in total. Creating them without a lactating mother or a cow could revolutionize infant nutrition, as well as add new nutrients and a better health value to food and drink for adults.
This funding will allow TurtleTree to keep pushing toward its solutions, bringing individual proteins to the market as well as moving toward cell-based operational mammary glands.
"The funding received has truly opened up a new world of possibility," chief strategy officer Max Rye said in a written statement. "We can now set our sights on turning ambitions to reality, starting with our U.S.-based expansion plans and then moving on to the development and manufacture of our first consumer-ready products."
The company's first commercial product, lactoferrin, is a sought-after nutrient present in both human and cow milk. It has immunity-boosting powers for both babies and adults, TurtleTree wrote in a blog post, but it is difficult and expensive to separate from cow milk using current procedures. TurtleTree will use its cell-based process to create the protein as it is expressed in human milk, which is optimized for human consumption. The company told NutritionInsight it plans to target infant and sports nutrition products with its lactoferrin, and it could be ready for market in mid to late 2022.
TurtleTree is also establishing technology and partnerships to cover more ground in the space. It created related entity TurtleTree Scientific in January to work toward finding a more cost-effective growth medium for cells. In February, this entity announced its partnership with biotech company Dyadic International to develop a number of recombinant protein growth factors — molecules that help increase the quality and quantity of cultured products — that can be made in bioreactors at high yields and low cost.
In March, TurtleTree Scientific partnered with JSBiosciences to work toward developing this growth medium at a commercial scale. JSBio will provide TTS's customers with a supply of food grade basal media and media formulation services, also expanding to other services including large scale manufacturing.
In August, TurtleTree entered a strategic partnership with Solar Biotech, a company known for scaling up biomanufacturing processes, to work toward optimizing and improving its growth of cells that can produce milk.