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6 October, 2023 - 21:40 By News Desk

Oceans of opportunity for ‘seaweed to food’ venture

BraveleyCultured, a biotech company aiming to use marine micro-organisms mainly in the foodtech sector, is seeking to raise £500k growth capital.

The business, which has just taken laboratory space at The EpiCentre in Haverhill, is already seeing global potential for sales.

The company, founded at the end of 2022, goes on bio-prospecting trips around the UK to collect seaweed and other types of sediment to analyse them back at The EpiCentre to identify how they can be applied within the bio-manufacturing industry.

Besides its bid for £500k pre-seed funding, BravelyCultured has applied for an Innovate UK grant.

The company recently won the BAITE Innovation Award Contest at the innovation festival NanoValbruna and is also shortlisted as a Sustainability Award Finalist for the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards 2023.

Chief Operating Officer Federica Pesce says: “At BravelyCultured we are harnessing the untapped potential of the earth's ocean to develop innovative solutions for the bio-economy.

“Currently, only 0.001 per cent of marine microorganisms are known to science. The BravelyCultured team aims to expand the biomanufacturing toolkit by collating the vast biodiversity of the earth’s ocean into a platform to improve existing, and develop new novel solutions, for the biomanufacturing industry, starting with food.

“Traditional methods to produce food ingredients by fermentation are expensive and increasingly unsustainable. By using new ocean micro-organisms that can grow on waste streams and renewable feedstock, we are contributing to a future of food production which is cheaper and more sustainable.

“BravelyCultured is in conversation with a number of potential customers including an Indian company that is producing animal-free Omega 3s and has expressed strong interest in screening BravelyCultured’s microbial library and co-developing a nutritious alternative fish fillet.

“After receiving funding from the Carbon13 venture builder programme we were looking for laboratory space around Cambridge but having found out about the EpiCentre, we thought it was a great opportunity to be at a place where we could get good value for money, where startups are really supported and is a great place to start our research. 

“What was important was not only the lab but also the co-working capability so the team can meet together – and not all the facilities in Cambridge have this combination of lab and co-working space,” adds Pesce.

The founding trio are all Cambridge University alumni. Natalija Stepurko, BravelyCultured's CEO, combines her PhD in Biochemistry from Cambridge University with her entrepreneurial skills acquired from courses at the Judge Business School. 

The CSO, James Dunce, has a PhD in Biochemistry and post-doctorate from Cambridge University and has eight years of protein engineering expertise. COO Federica Pesce, has over 10 years’ experience in sustainable development having worked for the European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme on climate action, biodiversity conservation and sustainable food systems.

The BravelyCultured founders have recently taken on a microbiology scientist Priyanka Pothen, who is leading research funded through an Innovate UK Transformative Technologies grant.

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