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Alt protein startup Microharvest launches pilot plant in Lisbon

Alt protein startup Microharvest launches pilot plant in Lisbon

PORTUGAL- MicroHarvest, an innovative alternative protein startup, has announced the successful launch of its new pilot plant in Lisbon, marking a significant stride towards commercialization. 

The company, founded in 2021, specializes in producing single-cell protein through a groundbreaking fermentation process using feedstock derived from agricultural byproducts.

MicroHarvest’s proprietary method involves fermenting bacteria and then drying the resulting product into a powder. This powder can be seamlessly integrated with other ingredients to create a versatile protein solution applicable across various industries, including feed, pet food, and human consumption. 

The startup asserts that its process is not only efficient, completing in a matter of hours, but also boasts impressive environmental credentials, claiming a 99% reduction in land use and over 70% fewer CO2 emissions compared to traditional beef production.

The newly inaugurated pilot facility in Lisbon represents a pivotal milestone for MicroHarvest, enabling prototype production and testing of production runs. The company has also confirmed a strategic partnership with a contract manufacturer, enhancing its capabilities and expanding its reach in the market.

Within just six months of opening our Lisbon office, our team has doubled in size, and we’ve achieved an impressive feat by constructing the pilot plant in record time. Within the next three months, we are on track to introduce our first product to the market,” MicroHarvest’s CEO, Katelijne Bekers stated. 

MicroHarvest is gearing up for the commercial launch of its first product in early 2024. The company repurposed part of its office space in Lisbon into a fully equipped laboratory and pilot plant, where it will produce protein samples for testing and refinement before scaling up to commercial production.

The startup’s journey has been supported by robust financial backing. After securing €8.5m (US$9.3m) in a Series A financing round led by Astanor Ventures, FoodLabs, Happiness Capital, and Faber in September 2022, MicroHarvest raised an additional €1.5m from new investment partner Simon Capital in May 2023.

In April 2023, MicroHarvest received recognition as a winner in the 2023 BloombergNEF (BNEF) Pioneers Awards, acknowledging its commitment to introducing technologies and products that contribute to a net-zero global economy.

The startup has also been actively conducting tests on various applications, including shrimp feed, with promising results. 

Bekers highlighted the strong interest from pet food manufacturers, stating, “The pet food industry is one that we strongly believe in and where we think MicroHarvest can truly drive impact.

As MicroHarvest works towards its commercialization goals and continues to explore the scalability of its processes, the company is also advancing on the regulatory front to bring its sustainable protein product to market at the earliest opportunity. 

The innovative approach of MicroHarvest is poised to reshape the landscape of alternative protein production, offering a sustainable and efficient solution to meet the growing global demand.

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