Singapore startup making cell-based milk secures pre-seed funding

TurtleTree Labs, a Singapore-based startup that leverages biotechnology to create the full nutritional content of milk, has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding in a round led by alternative protein-focused venture capital fund Lever VC.

Asset management firm KBW Ventures and VC fund K2 Global also participated in the round, according to a statement.

Using proprietary mammary cell-based methods, TurtleTree claims to be the first biotech company in the world with the ability to create milk from all mammals.

“The seed funding will be used to further build out the company’s scientific team and to create additional prototypes,” said TurtleTree chief strategist and co-founder Max Rye. Fengru Lin, the CEO of TurtleTree, added that the company is now focused on making hires during its early stages to provide the support it needs for rapid acceleration.

According to Rye, TurtleTree looks to publicly debut the world’s first cultivated milk and human breast milk products in spring. It also aims to open a pilot factory in Singapore by late 2020, alongside an industry partner, Lin previously told Tech in Asia.

The startup wants to work with industry leaders to adopt their sustainable and safe methods to create milk, as opposed to building itself as a rival to companies such as Nestle and Danone.

Beyond that, TurtleTree plans to start developing derivative products such as cream, butter, and yogurt.

The head exec also said that the startup was close to securing a lab in Singapore at the time, with help from AStartCentral, the “co-innovation” space offered by the city-state’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research.

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