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Protera: the future of food

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“We’re from a transitioning generation,” says Leonardo Alvarez, CEO and co-founder of Protera. “We care a lot about the impact we’re having in the planet. We need to move towards a more sustainable society, a better future. And we’re confident that proteins can help us to get there.”

Leonardo is referring to food waste, the first industry problem they are addressing with Protera’s technology, increasing shelf life and reducing food waste using proteins. “One-third of food produced worldwide is wasted every year,” he adds.

Leonardo and co-founder Francia Navarrete both have engineering backgrounds. “We were always intrigued by the computational dimension of biology,” says Francia. Together, they set up Protera in Santiago, Chile and recently moved to Paris. At Protera, the team has developed a unique process to carefully craft ingredients that are safe, sustainable, economical, and without any of the damaging effects associated with today’s production methods.

The technology rests on artificial intelligence: “Our aim is to find the protein that will do what we want it to do, like extend the shelf-life of a bakery product. Through the traditional approach, we would scan millions of proteins. That could take years and is very costly. Instead, we have developed a platform driven by artificial intelligence and a huge amount of data points. We then ask the platform what the right protein will look like. It needs to inhibit mould and survive 120 degrees for example... Does the protein exist in nature? Once we identify it, then we can work on producing it.”

A key component of the strategy is the IT dimension. “We are very R&D heavy, with strong IP, patents and industrial secrets involved,” explains Leonardo. “As we test the platform more and more, we gain unique data that makes it stronger in the next iterations. We’re already partnering with ingredient and food companies that are very excited about this technology.”

To support the R&D and propel the company forward, Protera received an equity investment from venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners, backed by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. With the platform gaining strength, the company is now on the path towards scaling up on both the production and software side. “We’re on our way to commercialisation,” Francia adds. “We doubled in size recently, bringing in engineers on the biochemistry side as well as on the computational biology side. It’s very challenging to find these profiles, but Europe opens up opportunities in this respect.”

Company: Protera (France)
Type of business: biotechnology
EIF financing: Innovfin Equity, EFSI
Financial intermediary: Sofinnova Partners

For further information about EIF intermediaries in France, please refer to:
http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/fr

Note: Following the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, we are updating the relevant EIF.org pages.

 
 

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