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Australian startup Cauldron secures US$7 million to scale precision fermentation technology

March 31, 2023

Cauldron, an Australian precision fermentation company, has raised AUD$10.5 million (US$6.98 million) from local and global investors to expand its existing pilot plant, and build a national production network and a world-beating team of precision fermentation experts.

The company said in a press release that the oversubscribed funding round was led by Main Sequence, the deep-tech venture capital firm founded by CSIRO, and Horizons Ventures.

The firm plans to build Asia-Pacific’s largest network of precision fermentation facilities, using a revolutionary hyper-fermentation platform that will unlock the production of new forms of food, feed and fiber, and unlock a US$700 billion global industry opportunity.

Cauldron will expand its existing pilot facility in Orange, New South Wales and, over the coming years, build a network of precision fermentation facilities around regional Australia that tap into the country’s agricultural know-how and feed-stock while diversifying and creating new local jobs.

In January, the Queensland Government announced funding for Cauldron to conduct a feasibility study of bringing a world-leading Future Foods BioHub to Mackay in northern Queensland.

With the combination of local and global investors, and a strong team at the helm, Cauldron stated that it has the resources and experience needed to scale initial production facilities and prove the feasibility of other hubs around Australia.

“Humanity has spent thousands of years getting fermentation to work," commented Cauldron Michele Stansfield, CEO & Founder. "With Cauldron’s revolutionary fermaculture platform, we are supercharging that process and unlocking the next evolution of how we produce food, feed and fibre globally.

“Our technology, 35 years of expertise, combined with Australia’s unique infrastructure and abundance of natural resources, will help ensure companies in this space can get new products and ingredients to market quickly, at lower cost and risk,” she added.

Cauldron’s hyper-fermentation platform is a breakthrough for the growing industry, helping precision fermentation companies scale and commercialize their new products faster, at a much lower risk.

Leveraging a unique continuous fermentation process, Cauldron’s platform reduces the cost significantly, while increasing the efficiency by five times compared to conventional methods.

Fermentation has been used for thousands of years to brew beer and culture cheese, a process that takes months or years to perfect. But precision fermentation hypercharges that process, creating the optimal conditions for microorganisms and bacteria to create new proteins, fats, fuels and more.

Over the past few decades, precision fermentation has been used to create many of the vitamins and enzymes used in food products and has long replaced the need to harvest pig pancreases to manufacture life-saving medicines like insulin.

While it is forecast to become a US$700 billion industry by 2040 according to CSIRO, many companies in this space have not been able to manufacture at commercial scale, due to the time and capital investment required, and the challenge of achieving low production costs.

“If Australia doesn’t tackle this opportunity, others will," added Phil Morle, Partner at Main Sequence. "Precision fermentation is already a crucial part of medicines like insulin and many animal feeds but is often done at smaller scale and overseas.

“Cauldron will serve as a regional powerhouse for production to ensure Australia plays a part in the future of agriculture and other industries.”

Chris Liu of Horizons Ventures said he believes Australia has the unique advantages and natural resources to become a world leader in the age of bio-based manufacturing. “Cauldron’s hyper-fermentation platform provides a supercharger in the quest for scalable precision fermentation without sacrificing cost and efficiency, particularly due to its easy access to abundant local feedstock supply alongside a carbon neutral production process,” he said.

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