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Liberation Labs fermenting Series A raise

Illustration of a test tube pouring into a hundred dollar bill

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Liberation Labs, a New York City-based provider of precision fermentation, is lining up as much as $75 million in financing, which includes a Series A round, CEO Mark Warner tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The startup is betting a known technology can be scaled to produce animal-free food ingredients such as bioidentical versions of egg and dairy proteins.

Details: The funding will be largely equity, but there's an outside chance that it could involve equipment financing and some government financing, Warner says.

  • Investors, which could include traditional VC as well as infrastructure and climate funds, may end up providing a hybrid of debt and equity, he says.
  • The Series A would likely close by the end of the year, Warner adds.

Zoom in: The proceeds will be plowed into a new manufacturing facility being built in Richmond, Indiana, to meet the growing demand for precision fermentation.

  • The factory, which has a price tag of $115 million, will come online sometime next year.

Catch up fast: To date, the company has raised a $1 million founding round, a $20 million seed round, and $30 million in equipment financing.

By the numbers: The first factory, which Liberation Labs considers its launch commercial facility, will generate about $40 million in revenue per year at near capacity, Warner says.

  • It will also produce between 600 and 1,200 metric tons of precision-fermented protein per year, he says.
  • Once that proves out, the startup will look to build a facility five times the size of the first one, which will generate about $160 million in revenue per year and be funded with more traditional project financing, Warner says.

What they're saying: Billions of dollars have been invested in figuring out the biology of how to produce products such as cultivated meat, but no real thought has gone into how to produce and scale it, Warner notes.

  • That's in contrast with precision fermentation, which can already be scaled, he says.

The bottom line: Investing in asset-heavy businesses is becoming increasingly popular with investors given all the attention in recent years on asset-light operations.

Editor's note: This story was updated after Liberation Labs corrected Warner's estimate of how much precision-fermented protein its first factory will produce per year.

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