Austrian startup Fermify is leveraging precision fermentation to create sustainable and economical cheese alternatives. Based in Vienna, the team has now secured €5 million in seed funding to supercharge its role in the animal-free food transition.
Our diets have been changing in recent years. Fuelled by increased health consciousness and environmental awareness, more and more people are opting for plant-based alternatives in their diet. Getting an oat milk coffee or choosing the vegan option at a restaurant is now very much the norm. However, when it comes to beloved products like cheese, vegan and animal-free alternatives are still catching up to traditional products.
Vegan cheese alternatives have a market share of about 2%, while plant-based milk products have already hit 20%. It’s largely due to cheese alternatives lacking taste, quality, and melt-ability – as well as sustainability and scalability.
Fermify, a startup based in Vienna, has developed a solution. The biotech company leverages continuous precision fermentation to create sustainable, economical and tasty solutions for milk protein production. Now, the team has secured €5 million to grow.
The funding was led by Climentum Capital. Co-investors include Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, Fund F, Clima Now, Satgana Ventures, and Triple Impact Ventures as well as existing investors such as Übermorgen Ventures, Backbone Ventures, Push Ventures and Simon Capital.
Founded in 2021 by Eva Sommer and Christoph Herwig, Fermify is disrupting the dairy market through a blend of bioprocess engineering, molecular biology and food science.
Eva Sommer, Co-Founder and CEO of Fermify: “We have very strong demand from various customers and will have to select carefully the first 2 or 3 pilot customers that we start working with, allowing them to be first to the market with economically viable vegan cheese.”
Fermify’s platform provides a solution for the in-house production of casein proteins, which is the missing piece to producing vegan cheese that tastes great and has the right melt-ability and structure. The startup’s IP-protected continuous bioprocess has the potential to deliver an estimated 50% cost reduction as compared to conventional batch fermentation and delivers cost comparability with conventional cheese by 2027.
The dairy industry is a major polluter – cows themselves are a major emitter of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Fermify’s technology reportedly has the potential l to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by over half a million tons of CO2 equivalents in the next 10 years by reducing the need for millions of cows in milk production.
Christoph Herwig. Co-founder of Fermify: “With our unique technology, combining precision fermentation with digital twins, we satisfy multiple urgent needs, such as drastically reducing CO2 emissions and allowing vegans and flexitarians to enjoy cheese!”
With this new funding, the biotech innovators plan to accelerate the optimization and full digitalisation of the bioprocess, as well as allow for team expansion to meet the global demand for its revolutionary animal-free production system. The company has more than 45 global customers in the pipeline and will start the first implementations at customer sites already this year.
Dörte Hirschberg, General Partner of Climentum Capital: “It is still very rare to work together with a group of strong female co-investors, especially on deep tech and high impact topics like this.”
Bettine Schmitz, Partner of Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund: “What excites us is that Fermify is not a cheese alternative, but a cheese equivalent, at groundbreaking cost”.