SAN FRANCISCO — New Culture, maker of animal-free dairy cheese, has closed a $3.5 million seed funding round led by Evolv Ventures, the Kraft Heinz Co.’s $100 million venture fund.
Founded in late 2018, New Culture uses fermentation instead of animals to produce dairy proteins. The start-up adds plant-based fats and sugars to the traditional cheesemaking process to create dairy cheese that is “sustainable, healthy, ethical and indistinguishable from animal-based dairy cheese in taste, texture and function,” the company said.
“Fully plant-based cheese doesn’t work, and we know why,” said Inja Radman, co-founder and chief sustainability officer of New Culture. “It lacks the crucial component that gives dairy cheese its signature properties, and that is the casein micelle, a supramolecular structure of dairy proteins that are found only in mammalian milk. We are developing the technology to make those casein micelles without involving animals in the process.”
New Culture recently finished the biotech accelerator program IndieBio, which start-ups Memphis Meats, Clara Foods and New Age Meats have also graduated from.
“We’re excited to lead the seed round for New Culture,” said Steve Sanger, a general partner at Evolv Ventures. “We have been impressed by what the team accomplished during IndieBio in a short period of time and look forward to supporting their vision to produce animal-free dairy cheese. This is another example of our focus on investing in the leading companies across the food value chain.”
New Culture plans to use the new funding to set up an R.&D. and fermentation facility as well as grow its team.
Other investors in the funding round include Bee Partners, Mayfield, CPT Capital, Boost VC and SOSV, which followed on after its initial pre-seed investment through IndieBio.
“It’s fantastic to have the support of our investors as we look to grow the company and scale New Culture’s unique fermentation technology,” said Matt Gibson, chief executive officer and co-founder of New Culture. “We want to disrupt one of the oldest and largest food industries in the world by producing a better dairy cheese for anyone to enjoy – whether you’re a cheese lover, lactose-intolerant, vegan, environmentally conscious or health conscious. The capital, knowledge and network our investors bring to New Culture enables us to begin doing that.”
New Culture is the second investment by Evolv Ventures, which was formed in October 2018 to invest in early-stage technology companies focused on the food industry. In April, Evolv Ventures made its first investment in GrubMarket, a platform that sources local food from producers and delivers to businesses and consumers.