Wildtype cell-grown salmon lands US$100M in DiCaprio and Bezos backed round
24 Feb 2022 --- Wildtype, the San Francisco start-up that makes salmon from cultivated fish cells, has received a cash injection of US$100 million from a star-studded lineup of investors, including Academy Award-winning actor and environmentalist Leonard DiCaprio and the Robert Downey Jr. FootPrint Coalition.
“As consumers continue to look for more sustainable seafood options, Wildtype is a brand that stands alone due to its technology and product quality. We are on the cusp of a consumer revolution around cultivated proteins, and Wildtype is well-positioned to play a leading role in this transformation,” says Jon Owsley, Wildtype investor and managing partner of L. Catterton.
The investment will enable the start-up to build a larger production facility and bring its products to more restaurants and stores, following a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety consultation.
The funding allows the company to invest in technologies that will improve productivity and lower the cost of its cultivated salmon for consumers.
Wildtype’s cultivated salmon is free of mercury, microplastics and other contaminants commonly found in seafood.
L. Catterton led the Series B round of funding. It included investments from Bezos Expeditions, Temasek, S2G Ventures Oceans and Seafood Fund, Cargill and prominent chefs from around the world.
Existing investors, including Spark Capital, CRV, Maven, AIIM and Root Ventures, also continued their support for Wildtype.
Star-studded support for cultivated salmon
The latest round of funding for Wildtype’s salmon includes contributions from environmental activists, scientists, health proponents, acclaimed artists, professional athletes and institutional investors with a passion for consumer brands.
This is the latest green investment for Hollywood A-lister DiCaprio who, last September, invested an undisclosed sum in cultivated meat start-ups Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms. He joined their advisory boards.
“Wild fish populations are threatened more than ever before. Wildtype will give us the chance to protect our oceans while creating the cleanest seafood on the planet,” says DiCaprio.
Producer, actor and investor Robert Downey Jr. launched ESG-focused FootPrint Coalition Ventures, a series of rolling venture capital funds focused on sustainable technology while participating in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Digital Davos Agenda on a High-Level Panel last year. FootPrint Coalition Ventures aims to accelerate technologies that address the world’s biggest environmental challenges.
Jeff Bezos is another keen investor in food companies creating meat alternatives. Through his company, he invested in Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and the Chilean company Notco. He is also the founder of the Bezos Earth Fund, which pledged to invest US$1 billion toward land restoration and developing sustainable food systems at the COP26 summit.
Early movers in the cell cultured space from Europe include frozen food giant Nomad Foods who linked up with cultured seafood player BlueNalu to zero in on commercial opportunities to seize its market share for the novel alternative to ocean-caught fish within the EU.
However, the cultivated seafood industry is in its infancy, and its products are still poised for market entry. As such, the industry’s cell-cultured proponents are cautioning against prematurely imposing regulations that would limit cultivated seafood labeling to terms that may distance consumers, such as “lab-grown.”
Edited Inga de Jong
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