TurtleTree and Solar Biotech enter strategic partnership

Solar Biotech, led by industrial biotech expert Alex Berlin, has become a significant piece of the puzzle for sustainable food tech companies taking products to market. TurtleTree knew from the beginning that one of the biggest challenges for food tech companies was developing the technologies required to scale up bio-manufacturing processes.

TurtleTree is a biotech company based in Singapore and the US. The company is focused on providing access to the best nutrients in milk using sustainable technologies. With so many food tech companies coming onto the scene, dedicated talent and resources needed to reach commercial scale are scarce. 

Microbes like yeast and fungi are nature’s perfect tools for bio-manufacturing. Precision fermentation uses microbial hosts as cell factories to produce specific beneficial ingredients in a controlled environment without having to go through animal agriculture. 

What happens in the lab is just half the battle. Efficient precision fermentation and product recovery at an industrial scale demand agility, flexibility, decades of experience, unique multidisciplinary process and equipment engineering, and a well-connected network of bioprocessing and microbial biotech partners, all professionally taken care of by Solar Biotech.

Many startups and VC’s believe major breakthroughs in the lab will result in the real-world commercialisation of bioproducts. The reality is that many projects run into years of roadblocks and scale-up challenges making commercial viability difficult. There is a major difference between traditional fermentation methods, where the microbial biomass itself is the end product, and precision fermentation, where a highly technical skillset is required to obtain the specific desired bioproduct synthesised by the microbial host. 

A key factor in reaching price parity with traditional food production methods is the availability of technologically advanced large-scale food-grade bioprocessing facilities, which combine precision fermentation and downstream processing lines that are customised for each player. Based on a Good Food Institute (GFI) report, available biomanufacturing facilities suitable for food precision fermentation is only 3% of the total manufacturing capacity. With the increasing demand for large-scale precision fermentation, the industry is already seeing the supply falling short.

Alex Berlin, Solar Biotech founder, chief executive officer and chief technical officer, having built his extensive experience from his time at Novozymes and other industrial biotech companies, has a track record of developing and scaling up bioproducts that were quite challenging for many others. The TurtleTree team identified this value early on, built a strong collaboration model, and made an investment in Solar Biotech.

“TurtleTree’s decision to back Alex Berlin and Solar Biotech’s team from the early days has started to pay dividends. Our teams can focus on lab-scale R&D and go-to-market as we look to play a major role in the sustainable food supply chain, while Solar Biotech delivers the bioprocessing technologies required for production at scale,” said Max Rye, co-founder and chief strategist of TurtleTree.

“My team and I are passionate about not only producing the food of the future but also about making a difference in the way these bioproducts are made. Industrial Biomanufacturing at scale has not evolved significantly for decades. We are committed to making a difference, in particular, with a focus on the deployment of unique cutting edge and sustainable bioprocessing technologies. We believe solar energy and a circular economy strategy will play a major role in how we produce novel bio-processed ingredients,” said Berlin.