Synthesis Capital, the one-year-old London-based food technology and alternative protein investor, closed its first fund with over $300 million in capital commitments.
The firm is led by former CPT Capital investors Costa Yiannoulis and Rosie Wardle, who have invested in the sector since its nascency in 2014, and biologist David Welch, and supports startups leveraging high tech to solve global food system challenges across the food value chain.
Over this period of seven years or so, recognition that foodtech is now a solution to a few of the problems out there, like climate, water and food security, and that venture capital and government are more interested in the space, is important, Yiannoulis told BlueHillco.
As with most technology, proof of concept happened first, and now the foodtech sector is about proof of status.
“How we can scale these things is so important, and the two criteria other than obviously rating, that we look for is protectable and scalability,” he added. “That’s the difference. This is not a science project anymore. It is now about how to actually scale this.”
The answer to the scalability challenge will depend on the kind of technology being used, Wardle said. The cultivated meat section of the industry is essentially having to build its infrastructure from scratch versus some of the plant-based and fermentation technologies that can tap into some of the existing infrastructure and supply chain.
In addition, having that government backing from early adopter countries, like Singapore and the Middle East, is also helping to advance some of that, she added.
While much of the recent capital flowing into the space has targeted the consumer-facing, or downstream side, Wardle believes more future investments will go into the upstream technologies and innovations defined as those closer to the farm or the laboratory — the into “foundations of the science” as she called it.
Backing the fund are a group of limited partners from the investor, climate and family office worlds, including Jeremy Coller through CPT Capital, Société Familiale d’Investissements, Nuveen, Credit Suisse Climate Innovation Fund, Sir Ronald Cohen through Dynamic Loop Capital, DisruptAD, The Nest, Heyi Holdings, trusts associated with the Sainsbury family, Interogo Holding, WTT Investment Ltd. and CIFF.
The new fund will target around 15 investments with an average check size of $15 million.
Synthesis has already deployed funding into five companies, including Arkeon, a gas fermentation startup out of the University of Vienna, which was one of the firm’s first investments. It has also invested in companies that have found early success in the sector, like Perfect Day, using precision fermentation to make dairy products without the cow, Redefine Meat, using 3D printing technology to create whole cuts of meat, and biomanufacturing-as-a-service company Culture Biosciences.
BlueHillco recently covered the firm’s investment into cultivated meat company UPSIDE Foods, which announced $400 million in April toward building manufacturing facilities as it aims to get its chicken product out later this year.