In Latin, de novo means ‘from the new’. The expression is also utilized in biology to describe ‘some organic procedure or entity that has begun once more or from new or from the beginning’.
For De Novo Dairy, a South African-primarily based start-up working in precision fermentation, the expression is fitting.
“The identify has a two-fold which means for us,” De Novo co-founder and CEO Jean Louwrens explained. “’From new’, since we are equipped to build character similar proteins from scratch, with out any animal involvement.”
And secondly because the begin-up has a specific fascination in infant nourishment. “We are concentrating on proteins that are crucial for people of all ages, but are predominantly identified in breastmilk and are ideal for optimum toddler diet,” he explained to FoodNavigator.
“Therefore, we are concentrating on proteins that are essential for infants and their initial progress, which means infants can get the ideal nourishment from the commencing.”
Disrupting toddler diet
The world wide toddler nourishment market is on an upwards trajectory. Valued at $34.2bn back in 2018, Allied Current market Exploration estimates the current market will improve at a CAGR of 7.7% from 2019 to 2026, when it will get to $61.6bn.
De Novo wants to disrupt the toddler diet sector – largely based mostly on cow’s milk – with proteins that are ‘nature identical’ to all those observed in human milk.
Human milk proteins are accountable for initiating a lifelong impression on the immune system in human beings, according to Louwrens. “Current varieties on these immune regulating proteins are at the moment sourced from bovine milk, which is by natural means not just what we want as human beings.
“In addition, these proteins are quite scarce and highly-priced thanks to significant purification fees to harvest it from bovine milk. There are also likely pathogen threats when harvesting it from animals (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).”
On prime of this, large purity benchmarks are necessary, and this has pushed a lot of bovine protein suppliers out as creation – notably purification – costs have grow to be also superior, he continued.
What is precision fermentation?
Precision fermentation allows the programming of micro-organisms to develop complicated natural and organic molecules, such as protein.
By making these task ‘directly’, without the need of the require for bovines, De Novo says it can make them ‘more value effective’. They are also ‘completely free’ of pathogens, animal cruelty, and are ‘perfectly designed’ for the human immune program.
“Essentially, precision fermentation is a technology which makes it possible for us to programme yeast to create precise proteins,” the CEO elaborated.
“So substantially like yeast solution alcohol…our yeast helps make mother nature identical dairy proteins all without the need of making use of any cows, making our system additional effective and welcoming to both of those the weather and animals.”
De Novo is a person of an increasing number of commence-ups working in the precision fermentation dairy place.
Other people incorporate US-dependent Ideal Working day, which is building animal-absolutely free whey protein for alt ice product and milk merchandise, and German start-up Formo, which has its eyes on the cheese industry.
De Novo is working with very similar know-how, but is concentrating on ‘very different’ proteins. “We are producing a technology that will allow us to generate absolutely functional, immune regulating proteins that are steady in meals apps,” explained Louwrens.
“We are generally concentrating on diet and superior-benefit proteins, specifically animal proteins that are vital in human nutrition and just cannot be replaced by plant-based mostly sources.”
Even though centered in South Africa, De Novo describes itself as a global firm. And as this kind of, is on the lookout to a selection of marketplaces for commercialisation.
Restrictions, pressured the CEO, are ‘distinctly different’ in diverse markets. “This would make it challenging for any individual functioning on novel systems to scale globally speedily, for that reason we need to have to be incredibly strategic about which markets we want to tackle initially.”
Some markets, he spelled out, are simpler to enter than other individuals. “We have discovered our main marketplaces and their respective polices for precision fermentation.”
In just De Novo’s native South Africa, regulations look to sit someplace in involving the extra progressive and conservative security authorities around the world.
“There are facets of South African laws that are very very well described and aid improvements in agriculture, earning the system rather seamless. Having said that, there are some facets that even now need to be developed and this involves a large amount of engagement with regulatory bodies.
“I’d say it’s nowhere in close proximity to as restrictive as the EU, but not quite as progressive as Singapore and the US,” we were being advised.
Of system, current market success is not established on regulatory approval, but on client acceptance.
Accordingly, De Novo is conducting ‘quite extensive’ buyer research – that will be ongoing throughout its development – in get to ‘stay up to date’ with shopper perceptions.
“As it stands, we are positive that buyers will answer nicely to our merchandise for the reason that they are identical to animal proteins, even so we do foresee that purchaser instruction will be a significant portion of our advertising and marketing method.”
Partnerships with ‘established’ manufacturers
De Novo is taking a B2B tactic and ideas to supply corporations ‘across the globe’ with the ingredients they demand to diversify and boost their solutions.
The system is to companion with ‘established’ makes to include De Novo’s products and solutions into their current lines, or to make brand-new items.
“Further down the line, we may glimpse at making our very own branded items, whilst at this phase we are concentrating our main competencies and ensuring our technology can constantly produce so we can provide the price tag of production down quickly to make sure broader adoption of our substances on an intercontinental scale,” reported Louwrens.
De Novo expects its solutions will be prepared to start by the stop of the 2024, when important regulatory prerequisites are finalised.
Last calendar year, De Novo closed its pre-seed funding spherical with contributions from Prithvi Ventures, Massive Thought Ventures, Sustainable Food stuff Ventures, and CULT Meals Science.
The start off-up aims to raise its seed round ahead of the summer season, with milestones together with the expression of its main proteins in its host organisms as effectively as acquiring initial relationships with its first intercontinental companions.