ProteinDistillery announces Seed financing of more than €15M to fund further company growth and launch Europe’s first protein-competence center in Germany

March 7, 2024 - 5 min read

Esslingen, March 7th, 2024 – German startup ProteinDistillery, headquartered in Esslingen and Berlin, began the construction of its mid-scale production facility in collaboration with industry partners at the end of last year. It also publicly discloses its cumulative seed funding today, which includes contributions from venture capital investors, financial banking institutions, and government programs.

The German food tech company ProteinDistillery specializes in upcycling microorganism-based side streams from various industries, including breweries. The company transforms these underutilized co-products into high-value functional ingredients through its innovative green technology. Co-founded by Christoph Pitter, Michael Baunach, Prof. Dr. Tomas Kurz, and Marco Ries, ProteinDistillery is pioneering in the food production sector with its patent-pending Prew:tein™. This groundbreaking product serves as a crucial clean-label ingredient, offering an animal-free alternative to traditional egg white to begin with, and has the potential to disrupt the market for many other functional ingredients. Recognized as Germany’s most sustainable startup (NEA Award 2023), ProteinDistillery is leading the charge in enabling food companies to transition towards more plant-based offerings, setting a new standard for the future of food.

“Utilizing the groundbreaking Prew:tein™, we are able to provide functionalities that rival those of animal-based or synthetic counterparts, such as binding, emulsification, and taste enhancement, when partnering with our clients on product development” states Prof. Dr. Tomas Kurz, Co-Founder and Head of Product.

In collaboration with industry partners, notably NETZSCH, a global leader in machinery manufacturing and plant engineering for both dry and wet materials processing, the start-up is establishing a mid-scale production facility in Southern Germany. This initiative is set to enable their clients to introduce the first products by 2025 that incorporate Prew:tein™ as a key ingredient. This strategic alliance signifies a major advancement in the creation of sustainable and efficient protein sources. It targets the food industry by providing valuable intermediate products and caters to eco-conscious consumers through the final goods produced, underscoring the partnership’s impact on fostering sustainable food solutions.

“Our collaborations with NETZSCH and top-tier food companies underscore our belief that business is the biggest platform to drive an eco-positive transformation. Such strategic partnerships are key to making functional clean-label ingredients accessible and affordable on a global scale, creating a more sustainable future, " remarks Christoph Pitter, Co-Founder and Managing Director.

The partnership with GEA, a global leader in brewing technology, represents another significant collaboration. GEA’s efforts are also directed towards extracting functional proteins from brewing by-products, notably brewer’s yeast. “Transforming waste into value is a crucial strategy for breweries aiming to optimize their resources and unlock new revenue opportunities, that is why we are fully supporting ProteinDistillery’s project,” states Dr. Mark Schneeberger, Senior Director Product Development, Design & Research at GEA’s brewery division. Recognizing the underexploited potential in brewery leftovers such as malt spent grain, brewer’s yeast, and other carbohydrate-rich by-products, GEA is set to provide the essential separation technology for the premier production facility of ProteinDistillery.

Beginning in 2025, the mid-scale protein production facility is set to manufacture Prew:tein™ in quantities equivalent to the protein content of over 20 million eggs. The carbon footprint associated with this volume of eggs amounts to roughly 1.9 million kg of CO2 equivalents. To put this into perspective, it’s equivalent to making 25 car trips to the moon, highlighting the substantial environmental impact.

The foundation for launching Europe’s premiere protein-competence center has been fortified through equity investments and a sustained exchange of expertise with several partners. Notably, support has come from select Business Angels such as IWR Invest, the private fund of Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking & family—a proud Stuttgart resident and former CEO of Porsche. An expert for industrial production.

“Looking ahead, we aim to set up an industrial-scale production facility with the capacity to produce several thousand tons of protein each year. Achieving this goal requires a carefully crafted financing strategy,” declares Marco Ries, Co-Founder and Managing Director. He continues, “Considering our strong track record and deep relationships with influential industry leaders, I am very confident in ProteinDistillery’s potential to significantly boost Germany’s standing in the biotechnology sector.”

Support from key venture capital firms includes a significant investment from the lead investor, the Berlin-based Green Generation Fund, a leading Impact VC renowned for its expertise in the FoodTech industry. Additionally, contributions from the Startup Family Office, recognized as one of the most well-connected venture capital entities in Southern Germany with deep ties to the German Mittelstand, have played a fundamental role in empowering the team at ProteinDistillery.

Financial agreements with Kreissparkasse Esslingen-Nürtingen and L-Bank, along with governmental support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, provide the essential funding needed. This collaborative effort aims to dramatically increase the availability of clean and functional protein ingredients, thereby enabling food companies to introduce compelling plantbased options to the mainstream market.

“The future of sustainable food production relies heavily on the upcycling of existing industry side streams, establishing an extremely resource-efficient process for producing versatile proteins locally. This approach eliminates dependency on weather conditions or seasons, ensuring our ability to adapt whether the next facility might be located in the Middle East or South America,” says Michael Baunach, Co-Founder of Process & Engineering.

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