Lever VC shares insights and guidelines for evaluating the scientific progress of precision fermentation startups

September 5, 2023 - 3 min read

Lever VC shares insights and guidelines for evaluating the scientific progress of precision fermentation startups

New York, September 5, 2023 — To aid fellow investors in making informed decisions, sector specialist investment firm Lever VC has released its internal playbook for assessing the scientific progress, novelty, and approach of precision fermentation startups.

This white paper, titled “Precision Fermentation Scientific Benchmarks and Areas of Novelty,” is the result of scientific diligence on numerous fermentation companies. It not only sets expectations for fermentation firms but also provides an outline to understand a startup’s unique value proposition and distinguishing features.

In the field of precision fermentation for alternative proteins, few companies have obtained FDA GRAS status, and the fundraising environment remains challenging, even for established industry players. With a surge in fermentation startups focusing on the same molecules and the emergence of novel fields such as molecular farming, AI-assisted plant protein exploration, and high-throughput protein engineering, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish a company’s unique strengths.

As investor interest in precision fermentation grows, a comprehensive evaluation of a company’s offerings has become crucial. By examining factors like innovation, defensibility, operational proficiency, and execution capabilities, investors can effectively position themselves in this evolving industry. Lever VC emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between startups employing iterative design processes and those employing a first-principle approach in precision fermentation.

James Caffyn, a partner at Lever VC, highlights the distinction: “Numerous companies in this field use iterative processes, gradually improving existing methodologies. While effective, this approach may lose its effectiveness as competition intensifies. Standout companies are those that apply a first-principles approach, developing innovative methodologies and strategies to significantly enhance economic viability.”

“The fermentation landscape is witnessing a surge in competitors adopting new methods to attain the same result, such as molecular farming or using non-model organisms. These technologies must be considered when appraising a potential investment in precision fermentation,” says Jasmin Kern, Scientific Associate at Lever VC.

“Since titer is the main metric associated with economic viability, new methods are required to push them into the next tier. We must think beyond basic mutagenesis and low throughput methods for directed evolution,” says Jonathan Avesar, Scientific Lead at Lever VC.

Lever VC, which is currently raising a $250 million Fund II, released its internal benchmarks to provide transparency for investors and newcomers to the precision fermentation space. The hope is for this guide to help investors without internal scientific and technical expertise validate the progress of fermentation companies and to motivate first-principle thinking for startups in the precision fermentation space.

The Precision Fermentation Scientific Benchmarks and Areas of Novelty white paper is available online at: https://tinyurl.com/FermentationBenchmarks

About Lever VC

Lever VC is a leading sector specialist in the FoodTech and AgTech sectors, backing early-stage startups worldwide and creating the future of protein. Lever VC’s Partners have executed over ninety deals in the category over the past nine years, and its Fund I performance is top decile on both MOIC and IRR based on the most recent Pitchbook market comps. The firm is currently raising a $250 million Fund II. More information is available at levervc.com.

Contact: Jasmin Kern, jasmin@levervc.com

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