Portfolio Company VitroLabs completes financing
9.00am 4th May 2022
(“Agronomics” or the “Company”)
Portfolio Company VitroLabs completes financing to build and scale the world’s first pilot production of cell cultivated leather
Agronomics (AIM:ANIC), the leading listed investment company focused on the field of cellular agriculture, is pleased to announce that portfolio company VitroLabs, Inc (“VitroLabs”), engaged in cultivated leather production, has completed its Series A financing round, raising US$ 46 million. This round was led by Agronomics following its US$ 7.0 million investment in September 2021 – see the full announcement here. New Agrarian Company Limited, the private vehicle investing alongside Agronomics, has also participated with a US$ 7.5 million subscription.
Agronomics now holds an equity ownership of 10% on a fully diluted basis and has the right to a board seat. Subject to audit, the VitroLabs position will represent 6.6% of last reported Net Asset Value.
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014, as it forms part of UK Domestic Law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Upon the publication of this announcement, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain.
The full announcement is set out below without any material changes:
VitroLabs raises $46 million to build and scale the world’s first pilot production of cell cultivated leather
Series A funding is led by Agronomics; other investors include BESTSELLER’s Invest FWD, global luxury group Kering, Khosla Ventures, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, New Agrarian, and Regeneration.VC
[Milpitas, California — May 4, 2022] VitroLabs Inc, a Bay-Area-based biotech company leading the development of a new scientific process to grow the world’s first cellular cultivated animal leather, today announced that it has closed its Series A financing to build and scale pilot production. The company has raised a total of $46 million. Series A funding is led by Agronomics; other investors include BESTSELLER’s Invest FWD, global luxury group Kering, Khosla Ventures, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, New Agrarian, and Regeneration.VC. In addition, Kering continues its partnership with VitroLabs in bringing support for product quality testing, tanning, and finishing.
CEO Ingvar Helgason co-founded VitroLabs with the mission to create the highest quality materials that meet the uncompromising standards of the luxury industry while drastically lowering environmental impact and furthering animal welfare. “At a time when environmental stewardship is more important than ever, biotech companies have the opportunity to lead the way in changing how we produce materials and build supply chains, working hand in hand with existing artisans and craftspeople who are the cornerstone of the $400B leather goods industry,” says Helgason. “By launching the first production of cultivated leather, we’ll hit a major milestone in fulfilling our mission to lead the shift towards a more sustainable future.”
“At Kering, a chapter/pillar of our sustainability roadmap is dedicated to sustainable innovation and actively looking for alternative materials that can reduce our environmental impact over the long term is part of the solutions we have been exploring for years. We believe that innovation is key to addressing the sustainability challenges that the luxury industry is facing, which is why we are very interested in the potential of biomaterials such as cultivated leather,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering.
Helgason adds: “There has been an explosion of companies that are developing alternative materials to leather. However at VitroLabs, our cultivated animal leather preserves the biological characteristics that the industry, craftsmen, and consumers know and love about leather, while eliminating the most environmentally and ethically detrimental aspects of the conventional leather manufacturing process associated with its sourcing.”
Based in Milpitas, California, VitroLabs is the first start-up positioned to bring cultivated leather to scale. Since 2016, the company has been pioneering the cutting edge material made by using advanced tissue engineering processes to create cell cultivated animal leather from only a few animal cells. The company has made significant progress on product quality in the optimization of cell expansion processes and proprietary design of a novel, large-scale tissue cultivator. Last fall, VitroLabs moved into its new, 45,000 square foot facility, designed for pilot production and laboratory space as the company moves from the bench towards commercialization. Series A funding will be used to fast-track commercialization, with expansion of scientific, manufacturing, and business development teams. “VitroLabs’ scalable tissue engineering platform provides sustainable, high quality leather,” says Jim Mellon of Agronomics. “We are thrilled to be continuing our support for VitroLabs, the leading luxury cultivated leather company ready for commercialisation.”
Co-Founder and stem cell scientist Dr. Dusko Ilic says: “Over the last two years, we have been laser-focused on pushing our tissue engineering platform in order to increase efficiency and to optimize tissue production to obtain the look, feel, and performance of traditional leather at scale. With several major breakthroughs in the areas of bioreactor design, bioprocess and facility design, and cell culture development, we are now on our way to a scalable process that delivers the desired premium qualities, forging a path towards the ultimate goal of industrialization.”
You You Xia
Director of Marketing & Communications
VitroLabs, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Milpitas California, is a biotech company developing a scalable tissue engineering platform for the efficient and environmentally friendly production of leather from only a few cells. Combining advanced tissue engineering processes with proprietary advances to achieve commercial scale, VitroLabs is on a mission to produce cell cultivated leather that achieves the look, feel and performance of traditional leather without compromise. The cultivated leather process involves taking a one-time collection of cells from an animal, which then grows in a nutrient-rich environment. Without ever going back to the animal again, the cells grow, divide, and form into tissue. The composition of the material achieves the complexity of traditional hides, containing a variety of proteins that make up a durable and luxurious material when finished, but without the need to go to animals as an ongoing source of hides. The process is more environmentally sustainable and favorable for animal welfare than that which is used to produce traditional leather. For more information, visit www.vitrolabsinc.com.
Agronomics is a leading listed alternative proteins company with a focus on cellular agriculture and cultivated meat. The Company has established a portfolio of 21 companies at the Pre-Seed to Series C stage in this rapidly advancing sector. It seeks to secure minority stakes in companies owning technologies with defensible intellectual property that offer new ways of producing food and materials with a focus on products historically derived from animals. These technologies are driving a major disruption in agriculture, offering solutions to improve sustainability, as well as addressing human health, animal welfare and environmental damage. This disruption will decouple supply chains from the environment and animals, as well as being fundamental to feeding the world’s expanding population. A full list of Agronomics’ portfolio companies is available at https://agronomics.im/.
About Cellular Agriculture
Cellular Agriculture is the production of agriculture products directly from cells, as opposed to raising an animal for slaughter, or growing crops. This encompasses cell culture to produce cultivated meat and materials, and fermentation processes that harness a combination of molecular biology, synthetic biology, tissue engineering and biotechnology to massively simplify production methods in a sustainable manner.
Over the coming decades, the source of the world’s food supply traditionally derived from conventional agriculture is going to change dramatically. We have already witnessed the first wave of this shift with the consumer adoption of plant-based alternative proteins but today, we are on the cusp of an even bigger wave of change. This is being facilitated by advances in cellular agriculture. This change is necessary, given scientists claims that if we maintain existing animal protein consumption patterns, then we will not meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5℃.
AT Kearney, a global consultancy firm, projects that cultivated meat’s market share will reach 35% by 2040. This combined with the Good Food Institute’s estimate that a US $1.8 trillion investment will be required in order to produce just 10% of the world’s protein using this technology, means that we are on the cusp of a multi-decade flow of capital to build out manufacturing facilities. Funding in the field of cellular agriculture is accelerating, however still less than US$ 2 billion has been invested worldwide since the industry’s inception in 2016.
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