Small logo Subscribe to leading news on impact investing. Learn More
The Brief Originals Dealflow Signals The Impact Alpha Impact Voices Podcasts Agents of Impact Open
What's Next Measure Better Investing in Racial Equity Beyond Trade-offs Impact en las Americas New Revivalists
Local and Inclusive Climate Finance Catalytic Capital Capital on the Frontier Best Practices Geographies
Slack Conference Calls Events Contribute
The Archive ImpactSpace The Accelerator Selection Tool Network Map
About Us FAQ Calendar Pricing and Payment Policy Privacy Policy Terms of Service Agreement Contact Us
Locavesting Entrepreneurship Gender Smart Return on Inclusion Good Jobs Creative economy Opportunity Zones Investing in place Housing New Schooled Well Being People on the Move Faith and investing Inclusive Fintech
Clean Energy Farmer Finance Soil Wealth Conservation Finance Financing Fish
Innovative Finance
Personal Finance Impact Management
Africa Asia Europe Latin America Middle East Oceania/Australia China Canada India United Kingdom United States
Subscribe Log In

Motif’s $90 million launch raises the stakes in the alternative protein race

ImpactAlpha, February 27 – Investors and food companies are putting big money into the discovery of alternative proteins that have been historically derived from animals.

Alternative ingredients company Motif Ingredients launched with $90 million in Series A financing to use biotechnology and fermentation – rather than animal agriculture – to “engineer dozens of proteins derived from dairy, egg and meat without compromising the functionality, taste and nutrition of animal-based ingredients,” the new company said in a statement.

Backers include the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures, backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and other billionaires, which has a goal of reducing methane emissions from cattle by developing lower-emission replacements. Food processing corporation Louis Dreyfus Company, dairy cooperative Fonterra and hedge fund Viking Global Investors also backed the new firm.

Motif Ingredients, the second startup to launch from Boston’s Gingko Bioworks, will leverage Ginkgo’s biotech platform to develop new fermented ingredients, particularly new proteins. Already fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria, in a similar process used for brewing beer, is used to make vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, flavors and other food ingredients.

With the meat industry contributing nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gases, there’s a rush on for less resource-intensive, healthier alternatives.

Products from other alternative meat companies are in high demand, and have raised serious money from investors. Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger, has raised nearly $400 million. Beyond Meat has filed for an initial public offering (the firm raised fresh funding early this month from a group of athlete investors). Gates is an investor in both companies.

Impossible Foods raises a juicy $75 million for its meatless burgers

Motif believes it can deliver alternative protein ingredients that will allow food companies to deliver such products at an accessible price and mass scale.

Sustainability and accessible nutrition are among the biggest challenges facing the food industry, said Motif CEO Jonathan McIntyre, who has led R&D at Indigo Agriculture and PepsiCo. Motif aims to deliver “affordable, sustainable and accessible ingredients that meet the standards of chefs, food developers, and visionary brands.”

As alternative proteins become cheaper and tastier, we could see a rapid shift away from meat, predicts venture capitalist Paul Graham. While such a shift would boost sustainability of the food system, it could also exacerbate inequality, he warns. “The replacements for meat will be created by startups, which means more Bezoses, and will simultaneously put lots of small farmers out of business.”

You might also like...