Israel food-tech startup Imagindairy raises $13M seed round to “milk” new technology and provide animal-free dairy with no cows
With growing concerns about climate change and carbon emissions, some consumers now prefer climate-friendly, plant-based meats and dairy instead of the traditional ones made from animals. According to some research, animal-free dairy is estimated to produce around 85-97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional dairy, while eliminating the cruelty associated with animal agriculture altogether. Now, one tech startup is on a mission to offer a complete range of sustainable dairy-free proteins without using animals.
Enter Imagindairy, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based food-tech startup that is milking new technology and completely leaving the cow out of the dairy equation. With natural precision fermentation, the company creates true milk proteins that are indistinguishable from the real thing. Imagindairy’s proprietary technology, based on systems and synthetic biology platform, allows manufacturers to offer cow-free, sustainable milk, and dairy products with all the nutritional values of dairy milk.
Today, Imagindairy announced it has raised a $12 million seed round to create milk proteins identical to those from cows. The round was led by MoreVC, a leading seed-stage investor in Israel managing $275M across three funds. Other backers include Strauss Group, Entrée Capital, S2G Ventures; Collaborative Fund, New Climate Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures; Emerald Technology Ventures, and Pierre Besnainou. This round includes a pre-seed investment by Strauss Group, FoodSparks by PeakBridge, CPT Capital, and Entrée Capital earlier this year.
Imagindairy’s technology is based on 15 years of research led by its co-founder and CSO, Tamir Tuller, Ph.D., a professor at Tel Aviv University. The company’s mission was to create a commercially viable, guilt-free experience of traditional dairy products consumers crave. The company will invest the funds in expanding its facilities, increasing its professional team, and boosting its R&D capacity to meet the demands of its partners.
“We are excited to share this news with our partners and colleagues,” enthuses Eyal Afergan, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy. “The market is eager to develop new dairy analogs based on our animal-free proteins. Once we reach commercialization, more consumers will be able to enjoy eating animal-free dairy products. It’s hard for people to make big changes, especially when it comes to the foods they enjoy, but when there’s an alternative with the same flavor and experience that is more aligned to their values, it becomes easy.”
Imagindairy is also built new partnerships. The startup is currently collaborating with leading dairy companies, offering a complete range of dairy-free proteins.
“Imagindairy’s innovative technology allows dairy companies to develop new products or reformulate existing products, without involving animals and with a dramatic reduction in carbon footprint,” says Glen Schwaber, MoreVC partner. “They have the technology to produce the dairy products of the future that consumers want today. We are incredibly impressed with the expert team and their strong R&D and scale-up capabilities—we’re proud to lead this investment round. ”
“We evaluated Imagindairy’s proprietary, deep-tech platform and immediately recognized its huge potential,” explains Eran Bielski, General Partner at Entrée Capital. “Imagindairy successfully addresses the biggest limitation of precision fermentation technology—cost-effective animal-free milk protein production.”
Imagindairy feeds microorganisms instead of cows, and the select microorganisms the company employs are up to 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feed into food. This offers food system resilience, allows for complete sustainability, preserves the natural ecosystem, and promotes animal welfare. It also eliminates the greenhouse gas emissions produced by dairy cows. The result: highly functional milk proteins that taste great and have the same texture, flavor, and nutritional value as milk from cows.
“Imagindairy ticks all the right boxes,” adds Eyal Shimoni, CTO for Strauss Group. “This is innovative technology that can help solve world hunger in our growing population; it’s a solution that is green and animal-free. We at Strauss group, one of the leading dairy companies in Israel, identified the potential in this start-up in the early stages and have confidence in its managers to help lead the alt-protein revolution toward a better, more sustainable future.”