Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

World's first company using tech to create real milk secures KBW Ventures backing

Singapore's TurtleTree, which creates milk from animal cells, attracted global players to its pre-seed funding round

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed Bin Talal's KBW Ventures has invested in Singapore-based biotech firm TurtleTree. Antonie Robertson / The National
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed Bin Talal's KBW Ventures has invested in Singapore-based biotech firm TurtleTree. Antonie Robertson / The National

TurtleTree Labs, a Singapore company using biotechnology to create nutritional milk, received the backing of global venture capital players including Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal’s KBW Ventures as it looks to expand its portfolio of technology sector investments.

The pre-seed round, led by Lever VC, a venture capital fund specialising in alternative protein investments, also included investment firm K2 Global, KBW said in a statement on Tuesday. The funds raised will be used to onboard more scientists to the TurtleTree team, it said without specifying the size of the funding.

“KBW Ventures’ interest in TurtleTree stems both from the team vision and the company’s strategic approach to the future of food using stem cell technology,” said Prince Khaled, who is also chief executive of the venture capital firm. “Having spent time with the founding team in Singapore, we have a lot of confidence in TurtleTree’s progress as a biotech company and in the direction they are taking from a business perspective.”

Co-founded by chief executive Fengru Lin, Rabail Toor, and Max Rye, TurtleTree is the world's first cell-based milk company using technology to create real milk from animal cells, without the need for a live animal. TurtleTree’s breakthrough not only allows the full functionality of dairy milk but it will also disrupt the existing baby formula industry.

TurtleTree has developed a unique technology that uses mammary cells to produce real milk in clean food production facilities, with the end-product, which will be sold as food products, the same as human breast milk or cow milk.

The company has the biotech to create milk from all mammals and intends to shape the future of not just how the consumers access dairy milk but also how humans will feed their babies in the future.

“What TurtleTree Labs is doing is fascinating, and their technology could be a serious disrupter in the global dairy industry,” said Nick Cooney, founder and managing partner at Lever VC. “They are the first company in the world producing real, whole milk from cell cultivation — which opens the door for safer, healthier and customised dairy products that can be produced with far fewer natural resources.”

Investment in TurtleTree is in line with KBW Venture’s strategy of investing in companies with transformative technologies and business models that offer financial returns, while delivering positive social impact. The KBW Ventures portfolio spans the venture capital spectrum from earlier stage ventures, to more established companies looking to expand into the Middle East.

Updated: January 21, 2020 12:28 PM

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