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Food Protein Biotech Adds €4M in Seed Funds

Microscopic image of archaea

Microscopic image of archaea (Themasterdidi, Wikimedia Commons.

23 Dec. 2022. A new company creating protein ingredients for food products from carbon dioxide converted by engineered bacteria is raising €4 million more in seed funds. Arkeon in Vienna, Austria is a one year-old enterprise spun-off from physiology and biotechnology labs at University of Vienna.

Arkeon is an industrial biotechnology company that says it devised a process for harnessing carbon dioxide as a raw material to turn that greenhouse gas harmful to the environment into useful proteins for food and related consumer products. The company’s technology uses an ancient bacteria called archaea that metabolizes CO2 through fermentation. Archaea are believed to predate eukaryotic cells with a nucleus found in today’s plant and animal species. Arkeon says in its process, fermentation with engineered archaea convert CO2 into amino acids, the fundamental building blocks of proteins and organic matter.

The company says it uses CO2 from industrial sources to produce 20 basic amino acids that serve as basic ingredients in complex proteins for companies producing lab-based food products. Arkeon says its labs can extend the proteins with peptides to enhance their nutritional value and flavor as needed by downstream manufacturers. In addition, says Arkeon, the company not only takes CO2 that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere, it creates food proteins without using land or traditional carbon-emitting agriculture, including animals.

Expand uses of alternative proteins

Arkeon’s technology is based on research by its scientific founder Simon Rittmann, a microbiologist and professor of physiology and biotechnology at University of Vienna. Rittmann and colleagues study the physiology of archaea as well as industrial applications of the microorganism through biotechnology. Rittman founded Arkeon last year with fellow researchers Guenther Bochmann and Gregor Tegl. Rittman is the company’s chief scientist, while Bochmann is chief technology officer, and Tegl is CEO.

Arkeon is raising €4 million ($US 4.24 million), a second installment of seed funds, from new investors ICL, aws Gruenderfonds, FoodHack, and Tet Ventures. In March 2022, Science & Enterprise reported on the company’s first infusion of seed funds of some €6 million ($US 7 million) from environmental investors Synthesis Capital in London and ReGen Ventures in San Francisco.

Arkeon says in a statement emailed to Science & Enterprise it plans to use the use the new funds to advance its product development and technology, as well as expand the company’s infrastructure. The company says it plans to extend the uses for alternative proteins into beverages, flavors and aromas, supplements, as well as cell culture media for cultivated meat.

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