US: Plant genetics company NuCicer closes $4.5m Seed round

NuCicer chickpeas

NuCicer, a crop genetics company producing ultra-high protein varieties of chickpea, today announced the closing of a $4.5 million Seed financing round led by Lever VC, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on innovative technologies and brands in the alternative protein space, with participation from The House Fund, a fund backed by the University of California Endowment, as well as Trellis Road and Lifely VC.

The Davis, California-based company has developed non-GM proprietary chickpeas with up to 75% higher protein content than commodity chickpeas. The new funding will support commercialisation trials of NuCicer’s first generation varieties, as well as the scaling of NuCicer’s genomic-guided speed breeding programme to provide continuous product development and bring further novel improvements to market.

Kathryn Cook, co-founder and chief executive of NuCicer, said: “We are excited by the overwhelming interest we received from the investment community in our series seed round and are now focused on moving forward with partnerships and commercialisation. We aim to cut the cost of chickpea protein nearly in half, making it price-competitive with other plant proteins such as soy and pea. This creates opportunities for our partners to develop new food and beverage products using our highly functional chickpea flour and purified protein ingredients.”

Nick Cooney, managing partner of Lever VC, added: “With its excellent nutritionals, neutral flavour and colour, and positive consumer perception, chickpea protein is an ideal ingredient for plant-based foods, but has been too expensive to date. NuCicer will be able to bring to market chickpea protein ingredients, high-protein flours and whole beans with an incredible competitive advantage in pricing and functionality. We are truly excited about what Kathryn and the NuCicer team have created and are pleased to support them in their growth.”

NuCicer's co-founder and chief executive Kathryn Cook
NuCicer’s co-founder and chief executive Kathryn Cook