Single cell feed protein producer raises €8M in funding round

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/marchmeena29
© GettyImages/marchmeena29

Related tags Single cell protein decarbonization

Deep Branch, a startup using microbes to convert CO2 from industrial emissions into high-value feed proteins, today announced it has completed an €8M (US$9.5m) Series A investment round.

Novo Holdings and DSM Venturing led the round, with participation from Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital.

The Series A financing will enable the completion of Deep Branch’s scale-up hub at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Limburg in the Netherlands, producing the first pilot-scale batches of its feed protein, branded as Proton, for full nutritional validation with feed producers, including BioMar and AB Agri. It will also enable the company to inform key engineering design work for its first commercial-scale production facility. 

Deep Branch's SCP product for feed, Proton

Founded in 2018, the company operates in both the UK and the Netherlands. It has a two-pronged approach, with it looking to address both carbon reduction and sustainable food production in one step. The single cell producer anticipates producing 100,000 metric tons of its feed protein,  on an annual basis, once up and running at full-scale production. 

Johan Hueffer, senior partner, Novo Holdings, and Rob Beudeker, investment director, DSM Venturing, will join Deep Branch’s board of directors. Lars Topholm, head of research at Carnegie Investment Bank in Denmark and non-executive board member of Deep Branch since 2019, has been elected chair of the board.

A key objective of the Novo Holdings strategy is to grow our investment in biotechnology companies that can demonstrate scalability and long-term value generation,”​ said Hueffer. “Decarbonization is fundamental to reaching net-zero emissions targets, and Deep Branch is positioned to be a leading technology as demand for innovative solutions increases.”

Pieter Wolters, MD, DSM Venturing, said Deep Branch has “potentially transformational technology and we’re excited to become an investor.”

Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, said the investment round brings not only financial support but also extensive expertise. “It reflects our heavy emphasis on collaboration, complementing our existing partnerships by bringing in new aspects of the value chain, including hydrogen, scaling bioprocesses, and commercial finance.”

Norway likely location of industrial-scale plant  

In terms of what it takes to take Deep Branch to market, the CEO added. “We are concluding a mapping exercise to determine the optimal location for our first Proton commercial production facility. Norway’s world-leading position in both the salmon industry and production of low-carbon hydrogen make it ideal from an offtake and input perspective, putting it high on our list. To meet our goal of commercial production by 2023, we have already begun engaging the necessary partners to make this a reality.”

Today’s investment complements a combined €4M in non-dilutive funding secured from UK and EU grant-funded projects scheduled from Q4 2020 to Q1 2023.

July 2020 also Deep Branch form a consortium of 10 leading industrial and academic organizations, including Drax, BioMar, Sainsbury’s and the Universities of Stirling, Nottingham, and Edinburgh, to create REACT FIRST, a carbon recycling project aiming to transform the UK’s food production systems.

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