Mar 3, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Palm oil alternative startup C16 Biosciences raises $20 million

Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations.
Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia, on March 1. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations. Photo: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based "bio-manufacturing" process for "brewing palm oil like beer."

What they're saying: "Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change," CEO Shara Ticku said.

The intrigue: They're not alone in this space. Per Bloomberg...

  • "California-based startup Kiverdi Inc. is using microbes to convert carbon dioxide into an alternative to palm oil. Scottish startup Revive Eco is extracting useful oils from coffee waste and Indonesian startup Biteback is finding those oils in insects."

Go deeper: Automating food from farm to front door

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