Molecular Farming startup PoLoPo secures $1.75m Pre-seed round to double down on its unique approach for animal-based proteins, growing in plants

March 20, 2023 - 4 min read

PoLoPo founders. Photo credit: Amit Alfonta. PoLoPo founders. Photo credit: Amit Alfonta.
  • Funding round led by FoodLabs, further investors include CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Plug and Play Ventures, Milk & Honey Ventures and HackCapital
  • PoLoPo to further develop its proprietary technology to grow egg proteins in potatoes: a plant biofactory producing proteins that can be used as functional ingredients in the food industry
  • Leveraging a cost-effective protein source to meet the food industry’s protein demands and to nourish the world’s growing population

Rehovot, 20.03.2023: Israeli molecular farming company PoLoPo has closed  a $1.75m funding round to double down on developing its proprietary technology to grow animal proteins in potatoes - the world’s most widely grown non-cereal food crop. The Pre-seed round was led by FoodLabs, further investors include CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Plug and Play Ventures, Milk & Honey Ventures and HackCapital. With the fresh funding, PoLoPo will further expand its core team of world-class scientists and accelerate their R&D efforts in order to offer prototypes in the coming year and a half.

PoLoPo has developed a proprietary technology to express proteins in potatoes in a scalable, cost-effective way, in order to meet the food industries’ protein demands and to nourish the world’s growing population. The company is building a technology platform for protein production, starting out with Ovalbumin (protein of the egg white), targeting the $26.6 billion egg protein market as well as the growing demand for egg white protein alternatives from the industry. PoLoPo’s Ovalbumin will be identical to “real” egg Ovalbumin in terms of functionality, nutritional value, and protein sequence. 

“We’re glad to have won a group of such renowned and like-minded investors”, said Dr. Maya Sapir-Mir. “With this substantial funding we are aiming to reach several significant milestones including protein rich potato tubers and Ovalbumin functional samples.”

“We want to produce better food for the world. Molecular farming technology, being harnessed for the production of high-quality proteins, presents a huge opportunity to do so, alongside with taking the animals out of the equation and reducing the carbon footprint of the production process” said Dr. Raya Liberman-Aloni 

Produced in over 100 countries worldwide and the third most important food crop in the world, potatoes are an abundant, resilient, cheap, and versatile yet underused food source. PoLoPo’s potato-to-protein pathway commercial scalability since plants require relatively low investment to grow and are amenable to upscaling by common agricultural practice.

“We’ve been very impressed by the disruptive potential of their platform technology and, most importantly, by the deep plant science expertise of PoLoPo's founders and their bold vision for the company”, said Christian Guba, “We believe they are set to complement the incumbents in Precision Fermentation by pioneering a simpler approach to develop proteins.”

PoLoPo founders Dr. Maya Sapir-Mir and Dr. Raya Liberman-Aloni  are plant metabolic engineers, experts in expression and targeting of functional proteins in plants. The co-founders met over 15 years ago, during their PhD studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked side by side for 6 years.

PoLoPo has won the Coller startup competition FoodTech track, which took place in July 2022, thus securing its first investment from CPT Capital. 

In October 2022, PoLoPo were crowned winners of the FoodHack Demo Day as the startup with the most impact potential. 

About PoLoPo

PoLoPo is a science based FoodTech startup using molecular farming technology that enables the production of real animal proteins without using any animals. PoLoPo is developing a plant to be used as a protein bio-factory. This plant will serve as a robust platform for high scale, easy to switch, custom-made production of proteins with egg protein being its first target to be produced in an edible plant. Using directed metabolic engineering techniques, while exploiting the full potential of plants as diverse metabolite and green protein factory, PoLoPo creates a potato plant able to produce considerable high amounts of free amino-acids, to be used as building blocks for high scale production of proteins in the potato tuber.

**About FoodLabs **

FoodLabs is the leading pan-European Early Stage VC investor and venture studio for food, sustainability and health. Based in Berlin, FoodLabs has built and invested in more than 50 early-stage FoodTech companies since 2016. We’re backing the most ambitious, purpose-driven entrepreneurs, who are committed to changing the world’s largest industry. FoodLabs has been an early investor in some of the most seminal, fastest-growing European FoodTech startups including Infarm, Meatable, Mushlabs, Sanity Group and Formo.

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