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Toyota Ventures backs bioreactor startup Future Fields

Feb 22, 2023
illustration of a dollar bill with fly wings flying toward top of frame

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Future Fields, an Edmonton, Alberta,-based recombinant protein maker, raised $11.2 million in seed extension funding to finance its first factory, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: Future Fields' transition from just animal proteins to other materials has attracted investors more interested in manufacturing than plant-based burgers.

Details: Toyota Ventures and Bee Partners were the two largest investors in the round but are not gaining board seats as part of the deal, CEO Matt Anderson-Baron tells Axios.

  • Builders VC, AgFunder, Amplify Capital, BoxOne Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech, Siddhi Capital and Climate Collective also participated in the extension round.
  • The $11.2 million figure includes a $5 million grant Future Fields received.

How it works: Future Fields uses fruit flies to produce protein at higher rates than is possible in traditional bioreactors, Anderson-Baron says.

  • It started out focusing on creating alternative proteins for meat alternatives, but its process can theoretically work with a host of different applications. Whether it works in practice with other applications remains to be tested, Anderson-Baron says.
  • One example of where proteins could be used is in personalized medicine, Anderson-Baron says.

The intrigue: Toyota Ventures' interest in the round is rooted in Future Fields' potential to remake some manufacturing processes, general partner Jim Adler tells Axios.

Zoom out: Large companies are rethinking manufacturing as one of the key sources of emissions.

  • High-emitting industries, of which the auto industry is one, are testing new ways to manufacture materials with lower energy loads and fewer emissions.
  • That's a better pitch for Future Fields, which went through the Y Combinator accelerator in 202o as a strictly alt-animal protein maker, as the alt-meats category continues to stumble.
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