The cash will be utilized to advance the company’s research and development activities, scale up manufacturing capacity, and also secure regulatory licenses to become commercial. Zero Cow Factory, a biotechnology business that claims to be manufacturing India’s first animal-free protein and dairy products using bioengineering microorganisms and precision fermentation, on Wednesday stated that it has secured $4 million (Rs 32 crore) in a seed round of investment.
The investment was co-led by Green Frontier Capital, GVFL (previously Gujarat Venture Finance Ltd), and pi Ventures. Other contributing investors included Pascual Innoventures, an investing arm of Spanish dairy firm Calidad Pascual.
With this fresh cash, Zero Cow Factory will be able to expedite its research and development activities, scale its manufacturing capacity and also gain regulatory clearances to enter the market.
The Surat-based firm was created in 2021 by Sohil Kapadia and Parini Kapadia to revolutionize the dairy sector by manufacturing sustainable animal-free milk proteins and dairy products. The product is a novel alternative to cow’s milk protein, but duplicates its flavor, texture, nutritional profile, and look.
“Currently just four nations have permitted items such as ours. Currently, more and more firms are sprouting up. When we began, India was not ready regulatory-wise but today it’s the fourth nation that has made some progress,” CEO Sohil Kapadia told ET. “We are looking at beginning from more developed areas like the United States and Singapore, and based on regulatory clearances, India, too.”
The business claims to have created a proprietary process to generate dairy proteins such as casein and whey, without any animal being involved.
“The company’s initial product is A2 Beta- casein, which is also healthier since the A1 milk protein that causes indigestion is missing from the product. The ambition is to be the first firm to achieve worldwide regulatory clearance for this protein,” the company stated in a statement.
It noted that the novel protein would be utilized to develop different sustainable food and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and supplement powder by the food, dairy, CPG, nutraceutical, and dietary supplement sectors.
The new protein is also free of lactose, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol, and saturated fat, the company claimed, adding that it is created through a more environmentally friendly process with 99% less land, 98% less water, 84% less carbon dioxide equivalent, and 65% less energy consumption compared to conventional dairy methods.
The business believes it has already established proof of concept at lab size with a tiny bioreactor manufacturing animal-free casein. The investment round would speed up work on creating a pilot plant in Gujarat for commercial manufacturing.
Choosing the B2B route initially, the company said it is in discussions with multiple companies across the CPG, dairy, and nutraceutical sectors that have evinced interest in partnering with it to formulate various products using Zero Cow Factory’s milk proteins as ingredients, replacing milk in their supply chain.
“With cattle being the No.1 agricultural producer of greenhouse emissions, precision fermentation businesses have the potential to disrupt the dairy sector globally,” Sandiip Bhammer, co-managing partner and founder at Green Frontier Capital stated. “If the world (and India) has to achieve its net zero goals, there needs to be a pivot rather quickly to sustainable solutions like precision fermentation and, in that regard, Zero Cow Factory, is working assiduously on developing its own proprietary A2 casein-based solution, a weakness that plant-based ingredients have not yet been able to address successfully.”
Zero Cow Factory previously obtained an unknown pre-seed capital from global food tech investors Artesian VC and Brinc. It is also a part of worldwide innovation accelerators such as Mylkcubator in Spain, MassChallenge in Switzerland, and Plug and Plays in the United States.