REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. — Impossible Foods plans to dedicate a significant portion of the $700 million it has raised this year to ramp up its R&D team. Adding more scientists to its team is part of a broader initiative at the company to expand its multifaceted technology platform and accelerate product development over the next 12 months.
Since its founding in 2011, Impossible Foods has raised approximately $1.5 billion. Of that $1.5 billion, approximately $700 million has been raised in two rounds this year. Now, Impossible Foods said it will use some of those funds to expand its technology platform and R&D team. Over the next 6 to 12 months, R&D will receive the largest percent increase in investment of any area in the company, Impossible Foods said.
In addition to doubling the size of its R&D team, Impossible Foods said it is launching the “Impossible Investigator” project, a program it hopes will “woo the world’s best scientists to work on the most important scientific problem Earth has ever faced.”
Initially, Impossible Foods said it is seeking 10 individuals to serve as Impossible Investigators. These individuals may have backgrounds in the life sciences, physical sciences or diverse engineering disciplines — or they may be data analysts, neurobiologists or experimental psychologists who can advance the understanding of the sensory perception and hedonic and behavioral responses to food.
Applicants will be evaluated based on the scientific merit and mission impact of their ideas as well as their potential to execute on their plans, the company said.
In addition to the inaugural class of 10 Impossible Investigators, Impossible Foods said it is looking to fill about 50 immediate openings for scientists, engineers and other R&D professionals to join existing projects. In total, Impossible Foods expects the new hires to more than double the size of its R&D team over the next 12 months.
“Scientists want to solve the world’s biggest challenges,” said Patrick O. Brown, PhD, MD, chief executive officer and founder of Impossible Foods. “And the greatest problem we face today is our reliance on animal agriculture — the most destructive technology on Earth. The Impossible Investigator program is an opportunity for scientists and engineers in or on the threshold of an academic career to choose another path with the biggest positive impact on humanity and our planet: using science to eliminate the most urgent existential threat we face.”
Dr. Brown pointed to his own background as an example of the type of individuals that Impossible Foods is looking to hire. Professor emeritus of biochemistry at Stanford University and a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Dr. Brown left his job leading a Stanford biochemistry lab to start Impossible Foods in 2011.
“I know the appeal of having the freedom and the resources to tackle great problems of your own choosing in whatever way you think best,” Dr. Brown said. “We intend to make Impossible Foods the premier ‘planetary technology company’ — the place for brilliant scientists to have that freedom to conduct the most cutting-edge experiments and bring to life world-changing inventions, with the potential to immediately scale their real-world impact and without the hassles and distractions of academia.”
The launch of the Impossible Investigator program follows the creation of the Biomanufacturing team earlier this year. The Biomanufacturing team, which is led by Smita Shankar, vice president, scales up scientists’ core discoveries to achieve commercialization. The team then takes the company’s “basic science” innovations in genetics, fermentation and industrial engineering (among other disciplines) and generates economies of scale for mainstream, mass-market product manufacturing.