C16 Biosciences, makers of Palmless™, the platform for sustainable palm oil alternatives, is ramping up its capabilities in the food category, fueled by a $3.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a $1 million investment from Elemental Excelerator.
C16 Biosciences will use the designated funding from the Gates Foundation to expand the PalmlessTM platform by working with non-agriculturally derived feedstocks to produce food-grade oils and fats. The global edible oils industry is projected to reach $870 billion by 2050, but the industry’s growth will be limited by insufficient arable land for oilseed crops to grow. C16 Biosciences has developed an innovative biomanufacturing process, leveraging yeast rather than plants, to produce oils and fats using fermentation. The company, supported by the new grant, will expand its fermentation platform to leverage next-generation feedstocks, which would enable a novel approach to food security, unlocking a circular economy model capable of producing food products and ingredients without dependence on arable land. With this grant, to be received over 3 years, C16 Biosciences will hire additional research and development staff.
“Creating better oils and fats for use in food has been a critical part of our company’s ambition and strategy from Day 1, but we’ve waited strategically for the right moment to enter the market,” says Co-Founder and CEO Shara Ticku. “Now that we’ve scaled our manufacturing to commercial-scale production and begun generating revenue in the personal care industry, we are ready and eager to expand our solution’s application set to produce high performance, scalable ingredients for food.”
C16 Biosciences has already gained significant momentum around its entry into the food category in 2023. On November 9th, C16 Biosciences was awarded the World Cell-base Innovation Award for “Best Cell-based Ingredient”. In October, the company joined Elemental Excelerator’s Cohort 12 and was awarded $1 million to advance efforts in food toward FDA GRAS status.
While C16 Biosciences is expanding its solution to the food category, the company remains focused on delivering innovative ingredients to its growing customer base in the beauty and personal care categories. In early 2023, the company launched Torula oil, a luxury bio-based oil for the beauty industry. Torula oil is the hero ingredient behind the company’s own product, PalmlessTM Save the F#$%ing Rainforest Nourishing oil, and the REWILD Body Block, a collaboration with Pangaia and Haeckels sold at Selfridge’s UK and online. Both products sold out in under 24 hours, and the company is collaborating with dozens of beauty brands to launch products Made with PalmlessTM in early 2024.
“With our support and catalytic investment, C16 Biosciences is taking pivotal steps to scale sustainable solutions, starting with palm oil alternatives for consumer products and food,” Elemental Excelerator Founder & CEO Dawn Lippert said. “This is an excellent example of how innovation can reshape industries, in this case by replacing an ingredient that is a major contributor to deforestation and the displacement of indigenous communities.”
C16 Biosciences is a New York-based biotech company producing biodesigned performance ingredients. We do this by leveraging our proprietary platform to produce novel ingredients without compromises for the world’s leading consumer goods manufacturers. The company recently launched the PalmlessTM platform for sustainable ingredients as well as our first biodesigned ingredient, Torula oil, a luxury bioactive oil clinically proven to promote healthier skin and hair. Torula oil was the hero ingredient in two of 2023’s award-winning product launches, both of which sold out in <24 hours. The founders generated the idea for C16 Biosciences at the MIT Media Lab, and the company is backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Y Combinator, and more.
Photography available at C16 Biosciences Press Kit
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Elemental is a nonprofit investor in climate technologies with deep community impact. We bring more than a decade of experience across the climate sector, with an active and maturing portfolio of 150+ companies. Elemental fills two gaps fundamental to addressing climate change: funding projects for climate technologies in communities, and embedding equity and access into climate solutions. We invest in transformative technologies to create a systems change for a more resilient, equitable future.