Investors think so too, adding €2.1 million (approximately $2.3 million) of additional funding to an earlier seed round to allow Project Eaden to continue development this year and launch its first product, a plant-based steak, can accelerate.
Materials scientist David Schmelzeisen, mymuesli founder Hubertus Bessau and ex-Zalando manager Jan Wilmking founded Project Eaden in early 2022.
The pre-revenue company uses biofibers, the building blocks of most animals and plants and an important component in making cuts of meat, as the center of its technology, Schmelzeisen explained to australiabusinessblog.com.
Project Eaden produces edible vegetable protein fibers, similar to those already used by the textile, aerospace and automotive industries, that mimic the texture and appearance of animal flesh. The fibers start thin, like wire, and are increasingly built on spools and wrapped around spools and fed into a machine that bundles the fibers together into the final product.
Schmelzeisen says this kind of technology produces a better-tasting product that looks and behaves like traditional meat; for example, it is juicy.
“The most important thing is texture,” he added. “We make fibers with different material components so that when you bite through each of the million fibers, you have a kind of bite resistance that has real flesh when you chew it. It really makes a difference. We believe we have a unique opportunity to build an excellent company, from a unique technology angle and to create something that is cool.”
US regulators are still developing how the alternative protein industry will be labeled and monitored. Meanwhile, scalability and cost are some of the biggest challenges for mainstream production of alternative proteins, Schmelzeisen believes the fiber technology is more scalable and can be used not only for traditional meats, such as chicken, pork and beef, but also for making fish and seafood. In addition, it is less expensive than other methods of producing alternative proteins, such as extrusion, which extracts moisture to create a “lump” of vegetable protein that can be formed into various meat-like products.
Project Eaden is one of the few companies using fiber spinning technology and raising venture capital for their approach. last March Tender, formerly known as Boston Meats, raised $12 million for its fiber technology it uses to make both plant-based and cell-cultured proteins.
The new portion of capital was driven by Creandum, Magnetic and Atlantic Food Labs and closed in December. Including the seed renewal, Project Eaden has raised €10.1 million (approximately $10.8 million) in seed funding to date.
An earlier round of €8 million was raised again last June from a group of investors led by Creandumand included Atlantic Food Labs, Shio Capital, Trellis Road and a group of angel investors including former Rügenwalder Mühle CEO Godo Röben.
“Eating meat is associated with excessive land and water use and unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions,” Carl Fritjofsson, general partner at Creandum, said in a statement. “But for most people, it’s just too much fun to give up. To this day, existing plant-based options have not solved this dilemma, as they lack irresistible taste, texture, and appearance despite higher prices. Project Eaden has the potential to become the industry’s game changer.”
Most of the funding will go toward technology development, including building Project Eaden’s R&D and food grade materials teams and partnering with culinary experts who will debut the product once it’s ready. In addition, the company is renovating a production area so that it can mass-produce its own product, Wilmking said in an interview.
A future funding round will accelerate construction of the plant, Schmelzeisen said. The company is currently in a lab setting up stage and will begin prototype production soon, with plans to be on the market by the end of this year.
Looking to the future, there are plans for the company to move from prototype production to a highly automated manufacturing facility, and then possibly to more facilities and/or partnerships, Schmelzeisen added.