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S’pore startup TurtleTree raises US$30M to make its cell-based breast milk “consumer-ready”

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Homegrown biotech startup TurtleTree announced yesterday (Nov 1) that it has successfully raised US$30 million in the first tranche of its Series A round, making it one of the largest investment rounds to date in Asia’s cell-based food sector.

The funding round sees participation from investors worldwide, including leading investor VERSO Capital. Following this round of funding, TurtleTree has now raised over US$40 million to date.

Founded by Fengru Lin and Max Rye in 2019, TurtleTree uses stem cell technology to develop lab-grown human breast milk as an alternative to infant formula.

“The Series A funds will allow us to scale up our processes and come a huge step closer to creating a new era of sustainable nutrition,” said CEO Fengru.

Max, who is also TurtleTree’s Chief Strategy Officer, added that the funding has opened up a new world of possibility.

“We can now set our sights on turning ambitions to reality, starting with our U.S.-based expansion plans and then moving on to the development and manufacture of our first consumer-ready products.”

Making its foray in the US

Having just launched its Sacramento R&D facility in September, TurtleTree will now use the funds to continue expanding its portfolio of sustainable, better-for-you food items.

It expects to launch its first products in the U.S. soon using its cell-based dairy ingredients through multiple B2B partnerships, and fully commercialise its cultured milk within the next four to five years.

Additionally, funds will also be set aside for technology development and talent acquisition, enabling TurtleTree to grow its world-class R&D team.

Together, these initiatives will help TurtleTree scale up its research and production of the highly functional ingredients found in human milk, which offer proven benefits for immune system function, gut health, and cognitive development.

One particularly exciting example of these ingredients is lactoferrin, a bioactive protein slated for launch as TurtleTree’s first commercial product.

For its first phase of product development, the company will offer ingredients for other companies to use in food and nutrition products. Ultimately, TurtleTree is working toward replicating whole cow milk completely in a lab, without the environmental impact associated with animal agriculture.

Moving forward, the company will expand into a global biotechnology platform with a vision for transforming performance nutrition, food systems, and cellular agriculture.

This will ultimately bring scalable solutions to the cell-based food industry, ensuring people everywhere will have access to the nourishing nutrients of mammalian milk in a uniquely sustainable and affordable way.

Moving forward, TurtleTree expects to carve out a significant share of the traditional dairy market, between five and 10 per cent, and it plans to become “one of the biggest players” in the sustainable food industry,


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Featured Image Credit: Asia Tech Daily/Nutra Ingredients

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