C16 Biosciences Raises $20 Million Series A to Produce Bio-Based Palm Oil Alternative for Consumer Products

Round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with new investments from Waldencast and Future Tech Labs

NEW YORK, NY, March 2, 2020  — C16 Biosciences, which produces sustainable alternatives to palm oil using biotechnology, today announced it closed a $20 million Series A investment round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with new investments from Waldencast and Future Tech Labs. Existing investors also participated in the round, including Y Combinator, DCVC, Sound Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Liquid 2 Ventures.

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil in the world. It is found in nearly 50% of products on supermarket shelves—including soaps, shampoos, makeup, and packaged foods like bread, ice cream, peanut butter and cookies—and is a $61 billion global industry. Unfortunately, the production of palm oil relies on the destruction of tropical rainforest and corresponding ecosystems, and this deforestation emits half a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year while threatening critical habitats for endangered species, including orangutans, rhinos and elephants. As urgency around climate change has increased, the need for a truly sustainable palm oil alternative has heightened.

“Palm oil plantations have been a significant driver of tropical deforestation, which is an important contributor to climate change,” said Philip B. Duffy, Ph.D., President and Executive Director, Woods Hole Research Center. “Intact forests are important buffers against climate change, absorbing roughly a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions. They also provide habitat for a diversity of species.”

To solve for this, C16 Biosciences has developed a proprietary technology platform that uses biomanufacturing—rather than agriculture—to produce a sustainable palm oil alternative that doesn’t rely on deforestation. In addition to the manufacturing advantages, this process results in better control of the oil properties and provides a fully traceable, more efficient supply chain.    

“C16 Biosciences’ mission is to stop deforestation driven by palm oil production,” said Shara Ticku, co-founder and CEO of C16 Biosciences.

“Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change. Our palm oil solution will enable consumers to continue buying the products they want while also making a planet-positive impact.”

Over 250 companies and nine countries around the world have made public commitments to stop using “conflict palm oil” in their supply chains for many years. However, after more than a decade, less than 20% of palm oil supply is certified sustainable.

“Biomanufacturing will play a critical role in meeting our climate challenges,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “C16 Biosciences has developed an elegant biomanufacturing solution for palm oil replacement that positions the company to capitalize on the growing need for sustainable, low-carbon bio-substitutes.”

With this latest investment round—bringing C16 Biosciences’ total funding to $24 million—the company plans to continue scaling its technology, lay the groundwork for a commercial launch and recruit additional talent across the company in metabolic engineering, fermentation and product development.

To learn more about the company or apply for an open position, please visit: https://www.c16bio.com/careers.


About C16 Biosciences

Based in New York, NY, C16 Biosciences was founded in 2017 to solve the palm oil problem: offering buyers and consumers of palm oil and palm oil derivatives a way to buy the products they love without destroying the planet. By offering producers, refiners, traders and consumers of palm oil an opportunity to invest part of their production into bio-based oils and sustainability efforts, our aim is to reduce the environmental footprint of palm oil production and protect precious natural land, wildlife and resources in the process. More information at http://www.c16bio.com.


About Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) invests in companies that leverage innovative technologies to help address climate change. Backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV has more than $1 billion in committed capital to support bold entrepreneurs building companies that can significantly reduce emissions from agriculture, buildings, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation. The fund was created in 2016 by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Visit http://www.b-t.energy/ to learn more.