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  • Female-founded fermentation startup Cauldron raises $10.5 million to transform the way new foods and fiber are developed

Female-founded fermentation startup Cauldron raises $10.5 million to transform the way new foods and fiber are developed

  • Cauldron accelerates the development of new food, raw material and fiber ingredients

  • The hyperfermentation platform reduces commercial risk and production costs

  • $10.5 million seed round led by Main Sequence + Horizons Ventures

An ambitious plan to transform the way new food, raw material and fiber ingredients are made by using fermentation has raised $10.5 million in seed funding, a new record for a women-founded startup.

Cauldron, based in regional NSW, will use the money to expand its existing pilot plant in Orange, 160 miles west of Sydney, and build a national manufacturing network and team.

The round was led by CSIRO’s VC arm, Main Sequence Ventures, with backing from Chinese Airwallex investor Horizons Ventures. University of NSW is also one of Cauldron’s backers.

While the idea of ​​fermentation is nothing new – think beer, wine, yogurt, cheese, kefir, kombucha – Stansfield is at the forefront of “precision fermentation” – industrial scale fermentation is called “fermafacturing”, putting the process in a way that is cheaper, faster and scalable.

“It has taken mankind thousands of years to get fermentation to work. With Cauldron’s revolutionary fermaculture platform, we are boosting that process and unlocking the next evolution of how we produce food, feed and fiber globally,” said Stansfield.

“Our technology, 35 years of expertise, combined with Australia’s unique infrastructure and abundance of natural resources, will enable companies in this space to bring new products and ingredients to market quickly, at lower costs and with lower risks.”

Stansfield aims to build the largest network of precision fermentation facilities in Asia Pacific, using the hyperfermentation platform they developed to unlock the production of new forms of food, feed and fiber in a $700 billion global industrial opportunity. Cauldron kicked off the year landing $528,000 of the Queensland government for a feasibility study on setting up a Future Foods BioHub to Mackay in northern Queensland.

Meanwhile, David Kestenbaum, of ZX Ventures, VC arm of brewer AB InBev, has traded investments in biotech and alt-proteins for the other side of the dressing table as CFO and co-founder at Cauldron.

The company counts other startups among its client base, including agtech Loam Bio, which last month announced a $105 million Series B plan for its plan to use soil microbes for carbon capture. Cauldron’s network helps them accelerate the production of their microbial technology. Another client is Western Australian plastic replacement startup ULUU, which is also backed by Main Sequence and uses seaweed to replace plastic, ranging from food packaging to durable goods and textiles.

Main Sequence partner Phil Morle said if Australia doesn’t address the opportunity around fermentation, others will.

Precision fermentation is already a critical part of medicines such as insulin and many animal feeds, but it is often done on a smaller scale and abroad,” he said.

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

Horizons Ventures’ Chris Liu said Australia has the potential to become a global leader in the era of bio-based manufacturing.

“Cauldron’s hyper-fermentation platform provides a catalyst in the quest for scalable precision fermentation without sacrificing cost and efficiency, particularly due to easy access to an abundant local raw material supply in addition to a carbon-neutral manufacturing process,” he said.

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