The cash injection comes from venture capital firms Sofinnova Partners and existing investor SOSV
Protera AI start-up co-founders
L-R: Francia Navarrete and Leonardo Álvarez founded Protera in 2015

Biotech company Protera has closed a $5.6 million Series A funding round led by Sofinnova Partners, a European life sciences venture capital firm. Existing investor SOSV also participated. A Chilean start-up, Protera designs and develops new proteins to enable a wide range of natural and sustainable solutions.

Leonardo Álvarez and Francia Navarrete founded Protera in Chile five years ago. The start-up seeks to advance the science of protein engineering to address some of the most critical problems and opportunities in food, agriculture, the environment and human health. 

Utilising MADI, Protera’s proprietary AI technology, the company is able to predict high-value protein products and enzymes with unprecedented speed. 

“Our products will allow manufacturers to use proteins in a myriad of applications that were thought to be impossible before”

Leonardo Álvarez, Protera co-founder and chief executive

The new capital is intended to support the commercialisation of Protera’s protein ingredient portfolio.

“This financing will enable us to scale up protera guard, a protein that provides people with food that lasts longer, and which replaces widely used chemical ingredients with an efficient natural alternative,” explained Álvarez. “We are thrilled to have Sofinnova Partners’ support and to be able to draw on its strategic counsel and deep industrial biotechnology expertise,” he said.

Álvarez and Navarrete serve as chief executive and chief operations, respectively.

Pilot trials

Protera is about to begin pilot trials with multinational food companies to deploy a unique, clean-label protein that extends shelf-life and replaces chemically derived ingredients.

“We throw away one-third of the food we produce every year worldwide, and one of the main reasons is microbial contamination,” said Álvarez.

Álvarez is a biotechnology entrepreneur and also the founder of Aminotec, a Chile-based agtech company that produces fertilisers and agricultural chemicals. 

“The highly entrepreneurial team at Protera leverages the convergence of recent AI developments and the opportunity to engineer biology to develop sustainable solutions in multiple verticals,” said Joško Bobanović, Partner at Sofinnova Partners. 

Bobanović, who has helped build Sofinnova Partners’ reputation as a pioneer in industrial biotech in Europe, will join Protera’s board of directors.

“We throw away one-third of the food we produce every year worldwide, and one of the main reasons is microbial contamination”

Leonardo Álvarez

Protera is part of Silicon Valley’s IndieBio since 2016. IndieBio is a biology-focused accelerator in Silicon Valley. 

Since then, Protera has been developing its AI technology, allowing it to craft functional protein ingredients that are clean-label and animal-free.

“Our products will allow manufacturers to use proteins in a myriad of applications that were thought to be impossible before,” concluded Álvarez.

Date published: 25 June 2020

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