“The highly entrepreneurial team at Protera leverages the convergence of recent AI developments and the opportunity to engineer biology to develop sustainable solutions in multiple verticals.”
Protera, a Chilean-based AI-driven startup designing and developing new proteins to enable a wide range of natural and sustainable solutions has closed a $5.6 million Series A financing round led by Sofinnova Partners – a well-known European life sciences venture capital firm.
Tech venture capital firm SOSV, an existing investor, also participated.
The financing is intended to support the commercialisation of Protera’s protein ingredient portfolio.
The company is about to begin pilot trials with multinational food companies to deploy a unique, clean-label protein that extends shelf-life and replaces chemically derived ingredients.
“We throw away one-third of the food we produce every year worldwide, and one of the main reasons is microbial contamination. This financing will enable us to scale up protera guard, a protein that provides people with food that lasts longer, and which replaces widely used chemical ingredients with an efficient natural alternative,” said Leonardo Álvarez, CEO and co-founder of Protera (@protera). “We are thrilled to have Sofinnova Partners’ (@sofinnovavc) support and to be able to draw on its strategic counsel and deep industrial biotechnology expertise,” he added.
To design and develop new proteins, Protera uses a proprietary deep learning algorithm, MADI, that predicts high value, patentable protein products and enzymes with unprecedented speed.
“The highly entrepreneurial team at Protera leverages the convergence of recent AI developments and the opportunity to engineer biology to develop sustainable solutions in multiple verticals,” said Joško Bobanović, Partner at Sofinnova Partners.
Bobanović, who has helped build Sofinnova Partners’ reputation as a pioneer in industrial biotech in Europe, will join Protera’s board of directors.
Álvarez and Francia Navarrete, Chief Operations Officer, founded Protera in 2015 in Chile. In 2016 the company joined IndieBio, a biology-focused accelerator in Silicon Valley. Since then, Protera has been developing its AI technology, allowing it to craft functional protein ingredients that are clean-label and animal-free.
Protera takes advantage of deep learning to shine a light on a previously untapped universe of proteins. Álvarez said: “Our products will allow manufacturers to use proteins in a myriad of applications that were thought to be impossible before. We are harnessing protein engineering to address critical sustainability issues – from food to agriculture and human health.”
The news follows a series of funding announcements on biotechnology companies.
Biotechnology company Ginkgo Bioworks has recently raised $70m to help boost DNA-based Covid-19 testing in the US. Ginkgo received its investment from biotechnology company Illumina and existing Ginkgo investors, General Atlantic and Viking Global Investors.
Ginkgo is looking to repurpose the DNA-sequencing and automation infrastructure it developed to read and modify living cells to help address the country’s shortfall of diagnostic testing.
Elsewhere, The Novo Nordisk Foundation, an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests, has awarded a grant of €100 million to DTU Biosustain, paving the way for the potential development of new bio-based products and sustainable chemicals.
DTU Biosustain is a research institute that is based at the Technical University of Denmark and run by The Novo Nordisk Foundation.