Microsoft founder Bill Gates has made his first investment in an Australian startup, backing Perth-based climate technology company Rumin8 in a second phase of its US$12 million (A$17 million) Seed round ).
The raise was led by Gates-founded VC firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), with participation from fellow billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest through their agri-food company Harvest Road Group. Funds from both starting rounds totaled approximately A$25 million.
The Gates investment came as the tech elder visited Australia and discussed issues such as climate change with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend.
Existing investors in Rumin8 include Australia-based Aware Super Sentient WA Growth Fund and US-based Prelude Ventures, both of which participated in the Phase 2 seed round.
Rumin8 aims to reduce methane emissions in agriculture by adding naturally occurring compounds to animal feed. It follows a similar path to the CSIRO spinout FutureFeed, which is also backed by Harvey Road, and uses seaweed to reduce methane. But Rumin8 produces its seaweed-like solution in the lab, rather than having to produce more seaweed to supply to farmers.
The funding will be used for commercial trials in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the US, product brand development and pilot plant development as Rumin8 moves towards commercialization of its feed additives.
Director David Messina said Rumin8 had received significant support from climate funds and the Phase 2 seed round was oversubscribed.
“We are very pleased with the reception we have received from climate impact funds around the world,” he said.
“Our lab results continue to deliver excellent results, our animal testing reflects the lab results, and the financial modeling we run indicates that we can deliver our products at a commercial price.
“Prior to the phase 2 seed financing round, we successively booked a number of important workflows. Now we have the resources to develop them in parallel, accelerating the path to commercialization.”
Paul Slaughter, CEO of the Harvest Road Group, said Rumin8 complements the group’s other investments to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change.
“We are actively seeking solutions to reduce methane emissions in livestock supply chains, with Harvest Road supporting multiple emerging technologies aimed at methane reduction in ruminants,” he said.
“Food additives are an important pillar in our strategy to reduce our carbon footprint and support our ambition to help solve the global methane emissions challenge.”
BEV’s Carmichael Roberts said the demand for sustainable proteins has never been clearer, which is why the VC company is interested in cutting methane emissions.
“Rumin8 provides a low-cost, scalable toolbox that has already proven to be effective in reducing emissions,” he said.
“Our team will support Rumin8 in working closely with farmers to expand the reach of this solution globally.”
READ NOW: Giving the world more protein is a $13 billion opportunity for Australian technology, says CSIRO