Air Protein develops protein-enriched food made from carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen combined with water and mineral nutrients
By Murielle Gonzalez
Air Protein in California has raised $32 million in a Series A funding round. The start-up trailblazes a new consumer category – air-based foods. ADM Ventures, Barclays and GV, the venture capital arm of Google, invested in the company.
Dr Lisa Dyson founded Air Protein last year, and in November it debuted its proof of concept by producing air-based meat.
The cash injection will fund a new innovation R&D lab, helping to accelerate product development and commercialisation.
“We are commercialising a novel technology platform that is capable of scaling to large-scale production to help feed the world’s 10 billion people by the year 2050, in the most sustainable approach available today,” said Dr Dyson.
The start-up claims that its unique technology produces protein in sustainable, vertical farms that can be built virtually anywhere on the planet. Meat can be produced in days, making it highly scalable and extremely planet-friendly.
Food from thin air
Air Protein has entered the market with disruptive technology, competing with Finnish air-based food pioneer Solar Foods.
The US company said the process to create air-based foods uses elements found in the air –carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen – combined with water and mineral nutrients.
The technology uses renewable energy and a proprietary probiotic production process to convert carbon dioxide into a nutrient-rich protein with the same amino acid profile as an animal protein. The end product is packed with B vitamins, which are often deficient in a vegan diet.
“It’s essential to explore a variety of alternative solutions and options to help meet the growing global population’s demand for protein,” said Darren Streiler, managing director of ADM Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of ingredients giant ADM.
Streiler added: “We are excited to help leverage our vast experience with fermentation solutions to help bring Air Protein’s innovative new ideas to the market.”
Andrew Challis, co-head of principal investments at Barclays, said: “Air Protein is a compelling solution to the growing challenges of sustainably feeding the world’s population while tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. This provides an exciting investment opportunity for us.”
Air Protein leverages carbon transformation technology developed by Kiverdi, a deep-tech company set up to transform carbon to address a range of challenges from the ocean’s plastic problem to sustainable agriculture.
Kiverdi was inspired by NASA’s closed-loop carbon cycle concepts for long-journey space missions.
Air Protein said the protein found in its meat is produced using natural processes and made completely free of any use of pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics.
“At GV, we’re drawn to invest in the future of sustainable food, and Air Protein provides a unique protein source with proven yields and production efficiency,” said Andy Wheeler, general partner at GV.
“Air Protein holds considerable potential as a modern meat alternative, and we’re looking forward to seeing what CEO Lisa Dyson and the founding team create in the company’s next phase of growth.”
Dr Dyson is also setting up a recruitment process to attract world-class staff.
Date published: 11 January 2021