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Alternative sugar startup Joywell sweetens its cache

May 27, 2022
Illustration of sugar cubes forming the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Joywell, a biotech startup that makes protein-based alternative sugar, tells Axios it raised $25 million in Series B funding.

Why it matters: The alternative foods industry doesn't have quite the shine it used to, but the ongoing blurring of lines between food production and biotech could revitalize investor interest in the space.

Driving the news: Piva Capital led the round. Joywell CEO Ali Wing declined to disclose the round's valuation.

  • New investors B37 Ventures and Global Brain Corporation joined the round with existing investors Khosla Ventures, Evolv Ventures, SOSV's IndieBio and Alumni Ventures.
  • Piva Capital co-founder Adzmel Adznan will join Joywell's board as part of the deal.
  • Wing said the round closed between six and eight weeks ago, with some time allotted for existing investors to follow on to the round.

How it works: Joywell takes DNA from so-called "sweet proteins" found naturally and uses yeast to re-create the protein during a fermentation process.

  • The final product could be sold to consumers or used as a sugar alternative in existing food products, Wing said.

Yes, but: Joywell talks a big sustainability game — it claims to save roughly 650,000 acres of fields that could go to sugar cane production with just a 1% reduction in sugar use — but hasn't yet done the analysis to back it up.

  • Wing said part of the funds from the Series B will go toward a life-cycle analysis of Joywell's final product to support the company's claims.
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