Brevel recently announced it has raised $8.4M in a seed funding round. The microalgae-based alternative protein company’s investors include FoodHack, Good Startup VC, Tet Ventures and Nevateam Ventures among others from the food tech industry. The round also included significant funding from the EU’s Horizon2020 program and Israel’s Innovation Authority in the form of non-dilutive grants.
Yonatan Golan, CEO and co-founder of Brevel, told NutraIngredients-USA that the funding will be utilized for the construction and operation of the company’s first commercial facility, which is slated to be up and running in the next few months.
“We are now working on closing the first contracts and will be in products on shelves by the end of the year. Additionally, the funds will be used for improving the value we can provide to our partners with an improved product and scaling Brevel’s proprietary technology and enhancing R&D capabilities,” Golan said.
According to Golan, who started the company in 2017 with his two brothers, microalgae is typically produced either by photosynthesis in ponds or closed reactors which are very labor intensive, suffer from contaminations and produce at low yields and high costs. The alternative is to use fermentation tanks where sugar is added to the process and then the microalgae grow and significantly lower costs and higher yields. However, this is done today in the dark. With the absence of light, many of the ingredients, functionalities and benefits of microalgae are lost in the process.
“We are the first company globally who has been able to combine sugar based fermentation and light in a single process. We produce affordable microalgae at very high yields which are rich with all of the functionalities, ingredients and nutrients that are only produced in the presence of light. We already operate at commercial scale reactors and are now building our first commercial factory in Israel.”
Brevel’s technology is based on high-tech indoor, sterile and fully automated systems which are illuminated from within at high intensity. The novel process enables the production of microalgae at a cost reduction of more than 90% and includes nutrient rich ingredients and functionalities that are only produced in the presence of light. Now with the closing of their seed funding round, conditions are ripe for the next stage of mass production.
“Brevel's protein has a full amino acid profile and very high digestibility scores,” said Golan. “In addition, Brevel's protein has a very mild flavor and color which makes it very suitable for food applications where flavor masking is not an option.”
The alt-protein comes as a dry powder which can be added directly to formulations. Brevel’s partners add it in different forms - either directly as powder, or apply processes such as homogenization, or secondary fermentation to increase its solubility, extract additional flavors and more.
In terms of functionality, Golan said that they’re currently trying to be as inert as possible by increasing the nutritional profile of products without changing taste, color, texture or cost for the end consumer. “One of our piloting partners described it as a ‘ghost protein’–it increases protein content without you noticing it is there.”
“Brevel’s protein solves immediate challenges in plant-based dairy and egg products that lack a valuable nutritional profile due to the need for very mildly flavored protein sources. Due to the high nutritional values and sustainable production in the mid and long terms, Brevel is aiming to become the #1 choice for plant-based protein worldwide, including the US which is a major market for plant-based products,” Golan said.