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Fermify first to crack continuous precision fermentation for vegan cheese proteins, secures US$5 million in female-led seed funding

May 9, 2023

Vegan cheese alternatives only have a market share of 2%, while plant based milk products have reached 20%. The main reason for this is the low quality of vegan cheese alternatives. Food producers have a high urgency to act due to volatile milk prices, broken supply chains (e.g. Russia has been an important milk ingredient producer) and increasing ethical concerns of customers. They are, however, missing the required biotech expertise.

Founded in November 2021 by Eva Sommer and Christoph Herwig, Fermify has brought together a team of 18 top-tier scientists and engineers with unique knowledge in continuous bioprocess engineering, molecular biology, process digitalization and food science to facilitate a disruption of the dairy market by 2027.

The company is the first biotech company to crack continuous precision fermentation to create sustainable and economically viable solutions for milk protein production. The company was founded by the serial vegan food-tech entrepreneur, Sommer, and her former professor, Herwig, a highly prominent thought-leader in bioprocess engineering.

Fermify’s platform provides a solution for in-house production of casein proteins, which is the missing piece to realize vegan cheese that tastes great and has the right meltability and structure.

The company has more than 45 global customers in the pipeline and will start the first implementations at customer sites already this year.

“We have very strong demand from various customers and will have to select carefully the first 2 or 3 pilot customers that we start working with, allowing them to be first to the market with economically viable vegan cheese,” commented Sommer, Co-Founder & CEO.

Cows are a major emitter of methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Preliminary life-cycle analysis indicates that Fermify’s technology has the potential to reduce annual greenhouse gas emission by over half a million tons of CO2 equivalents in the next 10 years by reducing the need for millions of cows in milk production.

The company is among the first to produce vegan casein. Their IP-protected continuous bioprocess has the potential to deliver 50% cost reductions versus conventional batch fermentation and deliver cost comparability with conventional cheese by 2027.

“With our unique technology, combining precision fermentation with digital twins, we satisfy multiple urgent needs, such as drastically reducing CO2 emissions and allowing vegans and flexitarians to enjoy cheese,” explained Herwig, Co-founder of Fermify.

The company has secured US$5 million in a seed funding round led by Climentum Capital, an Article 9 Climate Tech fund that invests in companies that can transform entire industries and cut megatons of CO2 emissions.

Co-investors include Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, Fund F, Clima Now, Satgana Ventures, Triple Impact Ventures as well as existing investors such as Übermorgen Ventures, Backbone Ventures, Push Ventures and Simon Capital. Notably, a strong group of female investors is joining this round: Dörte Hirschberg from Climentum, who led this round, Bettine Schmitz from Auxxo and Nina Wöss from Fund F.

“It is still very rare to work together with a group of strong female co-investors, especially on deep tech and high impact topics like this” says Dörte Hirschberg, General Partner of Climentum Capital. With the newly raised funds, Fermify will accelerate the optimization and full digitalisation of the bioprocess, as well as allow for team expansion to meet the global demand for its revolutionary animal-free production system.

“What excites us is that Fermify is not a cheese alternative, but a cheese equivalent, at groundbreaking cost,” said Bettine Schmitz, Partner of Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund. "Fermify is an innovative, Austrian deep-tech company that is developing a fully controlled production platform for casein proteins to empower their customers with the in-house production of vegan cheese products."

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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