Strathclyde spinout raises £461,000 in investment round

A University of Strathclyde spinout company involved in the sustainable production of food protein – at half the current cost - has completed an investment round of £461,000.

The funding raised by 3f bio Ltd will enable it to extend development activities, to progress to pilot and industrial scale, and to expand the scope of its technology to wider global potential for sustainable protein.

The company’s patented zero-waste process technology covers the large-scale integrated production of protein, alongside bioethanol and animal feed, and addresses the global market for protein.  By converting carbohydrate – for example, wheat or grain - to protein, this has strong sustainability advantages.

Strathclyde made £92,448 of the investment into 3f bio, which was founded in 2015 and spun out of the University in 2016. The funding was led by Scottish business angel investment syndicate EOS and was also supported by Scottish Investment Bank - the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise – US-based venture capital fund Data Collective (DCVC), the 3f bio management team and a number of private investors including Nick Elmslie, the former CEO of BP’s Global Petrochemicals business.

Dr David McBeth, Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange Services at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Strathclyde is delighted to participate in this funding round for 3f bio, which we hope will enable technology developed here to have a worldwide impact in addressing the global challenge of producing sustainable meat free food.

“Support for, and partnership with, business and industry is central to the University’s mission and 3f bio is perfectly aligned with our work in advanced manufacturing. We are strongly committed to enhancing economic and societal impact through the spin-out and start-up companies created here, and also very pleased to partner with EOS Investments for the first time in this deal.”

Jim Laird, CEO of 3f bio, said: “3f bio is at an exciting stage of growth and we are delighted to have support from investors and to have strengthened the Board. The opportunity for mycoprotein starts in the large and growing meat-free market, but has much greater potential as a healthy low-cost ingredient that is sustainable both economically and environmentally.”

Since its spinout, 3f bio has completed proof of concept at lab scale and received validation from potential partners and a range of awards. The founders have combined experience in food, biotech and technology development, with extensive understanding of global agriculture and large- scale engineering projects and a passion for using technological solutions to address societal issues.

Lower carbon footprint

The technology produced by 3f bio is aimed at producing mycoprotein, the ingredient in the leading meat-free brand Quorn™, at half the current production cost, and with a 90% lower carbon footprint and 95% lower water and land footprint compared with beef.

The company is making encouraging commercial progress in the business model, which is based on collaborative partnerships with market leading partners.  It is anticipated that pilot scale production will start in 2018, and the first industrial plant will be commissioned for 2020.