Hong Kong based novel feed protein maker has global growth ambitions

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

 © GettyImages/BsWei
© GettyImages/BsWei

Related tags Single cell protein

Single cell protein producer, iCell Sustainable Co, is looking to generate US$50m in a new funding initiative.

It has retained a global advisory firm, Lighthouse Finance, that specializes in capital raising, asset finance and management, to support it in terms of funding arrangements and to help it pursue business development opportunities.

The Hong Kong-based, iCell, which is part of the Shanghai Gentech Industries Group, purchased the intellectual property of US company, Nutrinsic, in 2016, a start-up that developed the technology to upcycle nutrients in food process water into a single cell protein (SCP) for use in animal and aqua feed, and other sectors.

“A big part of the iCell integration story is the ability to provide food processors a ‘closed loop’ system for nutrient loss,”​ said Mark Rottman, CEO of iCell Sustainable.

The proceeds of its latest finance raising effort will be used for working capital and for investment in joint ventures in different locations globally.

“The funds will support iCell in terms of legal entities and project development outside of China,”​ said Rottman.

The focus markets for the next joint ventures are Scandinavia and Europe, West Africa, and North and South America.  

“Several years ago, iCell chose to only develop production sites in China. The patents/IP/technology for cleaning water and producing proteins is rock solid. Feed is a competitive industry that requires a strong network and a channel to market. Our experience to date is what allows us to now reach back out to the world,” ​said the CEO.

Howard Tang, managing director, Global Capital Markets, Lighthouse Finance, told us discussions have been ongoing with institutional and strategic investors that are interested in a sustainable protein value chain: “In particular, aquaculture focused investors have been getting excited about the technology and opportunity.”

The beauty of Lighthouse is that it is well positioned with the C-Level economic decision makers in the aquaculture industry who can see the entire benefit of the integrated iCell approach, said Rottman.

Chinese operations 

We last spoke​ with the CEO in July 2019, on the opening of iCell’s second SCP production facility in China. That plant was completed in partnership with Shandong Zhonggu Starch Sugar Co and the facility is co-located on that company’s site. The facility is fully operational now.

iCell has another production facility in Taizhou, China.

“And we need two more sites to keep up with current demand. They are still planned for 2020 in China. COVID-19 has delayed some [aspects of the] implementation, but we hope to resume [that work] in Q4 2020,”​ continued Rottman. 

He would not disclose the company’s profits or tonnage output in any depth: “Suffice to say that we are still in the ‘thousands of tons’ and our strongest client base has been in swine, aqua with new JV discussions underway for poultry.”​ 

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