Insempra Raises $20M Series A Round to Expand Precision-Fermented Lipid Production

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German biotech startup Insempra has closed a $20M Series A funding round to expand the production of its yeast-fermented lipids for food and cosmetics.

Led by EQT Ventures, the Series A round builds on Insempra’s 2021 seed funding to bring its total raised to over $35M. Other participants included returning investors BlueYard Capital, Possible Ventures, Taavet Sten and Acequia Capital, and new investors such as Henkel dx Ventures, Bayern Kapital and Alante Capital.

The German startup plans to use the capital to scale up its technology, scouting, development and manufacturing capabilities, with the goal of turning oil yeast into lipids on an industrial scale using precision fermentation.

“New technology platforms such as Insempra’s have the potential to dramatically change the manufacturing processes of multiple multibillion-dollar industries, developing customised ingredients to fit market needs,” said Ted Persson partner at EQT Ventures.

Bio-based alternatives to petrochemicals

precision fermentation lipids
Courtesy: Insempra

Founded in 2020 by Andreas Heyl and Jens Klein, Insempra leverages new technologies to make bio-based alternatives to problematic ingredients and products for multiple applications and industries. Many companies currently rely on oils and materials sourced from petrochemicals, which have a harmful effect on the planet and deplete our already limited natural resources.

With heavy environmental impacts, growing consumer demand and a rise in regulatory restrictions, the ingredient world is changing, and sectors like beauty, personal care, food, nutrition and fashion are under pressure to switch to sustainable alternatives. Insemora suggests its advanced tech platform results in superior natural ingredients produced on an industrial scale to help manufacturers make the shift.

The company is growing lipids for food and cosmetic applications, while also developing technology to offer a bio-based alternative to everyday materials like polymers and textiles. It is also producing fibres for the fashion industry via Salina, its London-based spinoff with Imperial College, and plans to create new natural molecules for use in functional ingredient applications like antioxidants, preservatives, flavours and fragrances.

“Insempra has both the team and the technology to drive a revolution in industrial manufacturing and gain rapid market traction for its products,” said Persson.

Using oil yeasts to produce lipids

insempra lipids
Courtesy: Insempra

Lipids are compounds that come in the form of fats and oils that are ever-present in beauty, fashion and food product formulations. But currently, they mostly come from petrochemicals. “Lipids typically are either extracted from nature – you harvest the plant – or you can produce them petrochemical,” Klein, who is Insempra’s CEO, told TechCrunch.

Some startups are coming up with new processes to produce lipids from organic, bio-based materials. “We use so-called oil yeast,” said Klein. “And these oil yeasts are put under certain conditions in our steel vessels under certain metabolic situations. Then they produce lipid oils, which we can extract later on, and which we can sell into the cosmetics and into the food industry.”

There are a host of companies producing lipids from sustainable ingredients. In the food industry itself, Australia’s Nourish Ingredients and California’s Yali Bio also use precision fermentation to produce fats and lipids, while Germany’s Planet A Foods (maker of cocoa-free chocolate ChoViva) is focusing on plant-based lipids. Swiss startup Cultivated Biosciences, meanwhile, similarly leverages yeast fermentation to produce lipids as part of its alternative dairy fat.

But Klein – a former CEO of a vegan silk polymer company – believes Insempra’s chief competitors are specialty ingredient companies, particularly the petrochemical industry. “I don’t know any other company with an approach like ours,” he said.

Last year, the company announced the successful testing of second-generation feedstocks to commercially manufacture fermentation-based products alongside plant-based materials specialist Fibers365. And, in March, it was part of a consortium of companies that won €2.1M in a Eurostars grant.

“Working in collaboration with nature, we will continue to expand our capacity to develop intrinsically sustainable materials that are superior in quality and will reduce our dependence on chemical industrialisation processes,” said Klein.


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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