Plant-based meats and milks still use proteins, just not proteins that come from animals. Motif Ingredients has raised $27.5 million to build a pipeline of these animal-free protein ingredients.
In addition to the new cash, Motif on Thursday also unveiled a new name: Motif FoodWorks. The Boston company says the name better connects its business to the food industry, as well as its origins. Motif is based on research from Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic biology company that engineers microbes to produce compounds used in a wide range of products, such as beverages, fragrances, and pharmaceuticals.
Ginkgo’s research initially included proteins. Motif spun out as a separate company to address the demand that Ginkgo saw for food and beverage proteins that don’t come from animals. Under a services agreement, Ginkgo engineers the microbes that produce proteins for Motif. Motif ferments those proteins to produce its food ingredients.
The past year has seen the $241 million IPO of plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) and the fast food launch of a burger from rival Impossible Foods, now available at Burger King restaurants. Motif has not disclosed its partners but the company does not aim to produce its own plant-based foods. Rather, the company will supply ingredients to companies that are developing and commercializing animal-free meat and milk products. Motif business development executive Jason Kakoyiannis told Xconomy earlier this year that his company aims to develop ingredients that will improve the flavor and texture of plant-based foods and beverages.
The investment announced Thursday comes six months after Motif raised $90 million in Series A funding. The latest investment was led by General Atlantic, which was joined in the deal by CPT Capital. Besides supporting development of its ingredients pipeline, Motif says the new capital will allow the company to expand its academic collaborations, hire more staff, and continue its research and development.
Here’s more on the origins of Motif.