Animal-free cheese producer Formo raises USD50m in Series A funding round
Precision fermentation company Formo has closed a USD50 million Series A financing round led by EQT Ventures, with Elevat3 Capital and Lowercarbon Capital as co-leads.
The round also saw participation from Lionheart Ventures, Happiness Capital, and Albert Wenger. Additionally, existing investors Agronomics, CPT Capital, Good Seed Ventures, Grazia Equity, and M Ventures participated in the round.
The startup will use the new funding to construct its pilot plant, fast-track its commercial-scale production, and grow the molecular biology and food science team. With the resulting increase in R&D capacity, Formo plans to expand its product portfolio to represent a wide variety of European dairy specialties such as mozzarella and ricotta, with techniques designed in collaboration with artisan cheesemakers.
"We are thrilled to join forces with additional top-tier investors such as EQT, Lowercarbon Capital and Elevat3 Capital and to further solidify our relationships with our existing shareholders. Our excellent investor setup paired with our team of interdisciplinary experts makes us uniquely positioned to define the new gold standard of cheese," says Raffael Wohlgensinger, Co-Founder and CEO of Formo. "With our technology, we aspire to lead the paradigm shift towards a more sustainable and equitable food system for this planet.
"To achieve our goal of a zero-carbon economy, we need to invest at least as much attention and resources into making our food system radically more sustainable as we are investing into clean energy."
Formo domesticates microorganisms instead of cows, using precision fermentation to create nature-identical dairy products. Formo's cheeses have the same taste, texture, and functional properties as animal-derived cheeses, but come at a substantially lower cost for the environment, human health, and animal welfare. With microorganisms being up to 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feed into food, Formo can already undercut consumers' willingness to pay at commercial production scale.
"For over two years we have been searching for a way to overcome the challenges of our broken food system on a molecular level," Dr Britta Winterberg, Co-Founder, and CSO of Formo, says. "Today, we are beyond excited to see our vision of a kinder, greener future come to life through our delicious cheeses as we prepare for our first product demonstration event in collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Ricky Saward."
"When we choose to partner with the boldest and most ambitious founders, we always start with purpose. In Formo, theirs was clear: harness molecular processes to pioneer a radical transformation in our food systems. To achieve such a vision, Raffa, Britta, and the Formo team are demonstrating that the convergence of disciplines – from frontier technology to brand development – is critical. Our purpose at EQT is to support them in building this into a global winner, and we are thrilled to join Formo in their journey toward better planetary health." says Gregory Bernstein, Investor at EQT Ventures.
"We're delighted to be giving further support to Formo, the European leader in precision fermentation. Their progress demonstrates our contention that the conventional dairy industry will soon be upended by novel technologies helping to reduce climate change and to improve human and animal health," says Jim Mellon, Director of Agronomics.
"The true cost of dairy on human health, planetary health, and animal welfare is devastating, yet governments across the world still subsidise this industry. Formo's exceptional team has successfully demonstrated how biotechnology can be applied to create not just equally, but even better-performing products that will be price-competitive in no time. This is just the beginning of the dairy revolution!" says Christian Angermayer, Founding Partner of Elevat3 Capital.