Germany: Bluu Biosciences raises €7m to produce cultured fish

Bluu Biosciences is the first company in Europe to specialise in the development and production of cell-based fish
From left: Bluu Biosciences co-founders Sebastian Rakers and Simon Fabich

Berlin-based biotech company Bluu Biosciences has raised €7 million in a seed funding round that closed in less than 10 months after its foundation. The start-up is the first company in Europe to specialise in the development and production of cell-based fish.

Global food and impact investors Manta Ray Ventures, CPT Capital, Lever VC, Norrsken, and Be8 participated in the investment round.

The fresh capital will flow into the company’s intensive biotechnology research and development work as well as into product development.

Managing directors Dr Sebastian Rakers and Simon Fabich co-founded Bluu Bioscience last year, supported by EVIG, a Berlin-based company builder that specialises in working with scientists on their path to establish biotechnology start-ups in the food sector.

Rakers said: “We are proud that we could partner with investors such as Manta Ray, CPT, Lever, and more, that believe in the importance of deep innovation for the aim of a more sustainable food system.”

Fabich added: “The round was closed in a matter of weeks, which indicates how compelling the science team and the science foundation of Bluu is. It also showcases the incredible interest of great investors to support this kind of initiative.”

The cultivated meat sector, where there are already initial approvals for cultivated meat products in Singapore, is fuelling the prospects for a similarly positive development in cell-based fish products.

There is currently only a handful of other companies developing cell-based fish, including California-based Blue Nalu.

Bluu Biosciences: Fish from cells

Cell-based or cultivated fish is sustainable fish meat produced from fish cells that is grown in a bioreactor. It is an animal product that, unlike wild-caught fish, is obtained without compromising animal welfare.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 90% of all edible fish stocks are already considered maximally exploited or overfished, while demand continues to rise as the world’s population grows. More and more people are relying on fish as their primary source of protein.

Producing cell-based fish without harming the ecosystem and at competitive prices can make a critical contribution to global animal protein supply security in the future.

Bluu Biosciences R&D work on cell-based fish products

“Cultivated fish has the potential to feed a large portion of humanity. Our task is to rapidly operationalise the findings from biotechnological research to leverage this potential,” said Rakers.

Other advantages of cultivated fish include its high nutritional value, the absence of pollutants, its availability even in places without access to the sea and the associated short supply chains.

The production process is resource-friendly and has a significantly lower carbon footprint as well as water and energy consumption compared to the conventional fish processing industry.

Bluu Biosciences argues cell-based fish is the answer to industrial fish farming, as it will be able to save trillions of fish lives.

“Bluu Biosciences has set out to produce tasty and nutrient-optimized fish products from fish cells that are free of genetic engineering, antibiotics and environmental toxins,” said Rakers. “Above all, that means intensive research and development work to develop the optimal fish cell lines for subsequent production. Bluu is in the excellent position of using proprietary technologies and non-GMO immortalised cell lines to achieve that.”

Bluu Biosciences cooperates closely with the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology and Cell Engineering in Lübeck in this endeavour and has access to a state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure.

The company is planning on securing further partnerships for nutrient media optimisation and bioreactor development.