From vaccines to meat alternatives, the demand for biomanufactured products is on the rise. But the large-scale biomanufacturing infrastructure necessary to make all of these products at commercial scale has been lacking. For example, global biomanufacturing capacity will have to increase 100 times to meet the demand for fermentation-based animal protein by 2030.
Today, Culture Biosciences, a technology company that offers an easier, faster, and cheaper way to do biomanufacturing research and development (R&D), announced Series B financing of $80 million. Culture builds and operates bioreactors with custom hardware and software. Its team runs the bioreactors for companies that are manufacturing food, therapeutics, and other bioproducts.
Helping Biomanufacturers Grow
Culture’s cloud bioreactor platform allows scientists to spend more time designing and analyzing experiments instead of monitoring their reactors. Culture’s cloud bioreactors give researchers full control of experimental design while allowing for real-time monitoring and advanced data visualization from anywhere in the world.
“The mission of our company is to help other businesses. We exist to help further the work of other companies and to make them successful, so they can get their ideas into the market and scale,” says Matt Ball, CTO of Culture.
Clients from around the world send Culture their materials and specifications. Although they are all different, one thing all of Culture’s customers have in common is the need for more bioreactor capacity. The customers are good at the science of making novel proteins or novel small molecules with a bioprocess, but they need help to figure out how to test that process and scale it. Culture’s cloud bioreactors allow them to generate that data.
Companies are already using Culture’s bioreactors to test yeast, E. coli, and other organisms. Culture has also worked on alternative meat proteins, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Culture’s Plans for the Future
Culture plans to use its Series B funding to scale by adding more bioreactors, new types of processes, and more software and data analytics tools to support its customers remotely. The company also wants to use the money to expand into commercial-scale manufacturing.
“The goal is for customers to optimize and test on our small-scale reactors. They can run massive parallel experiments and generate some great datasets there. But once they have some idea of what will work for them, they can then take that to our large-scale reactors for manufacturing. So, it is all under one roof with the ability to transfer between scales,” says Ball.
Culture’s 250mL bioreactors are about the size of a water bottle, which makes it possible to do a great amount of testing. 250mL bioreactors help companies test their processes in different conditions, such as temperature changes. These bioreactors give customers a chance to explore many possibilities and optimize their processes before they go to manufacturing.
Culture plans to build 5L and 250L bioreactors and launch them for customer use at the end of next year. They are also planning to work on even larger-scale bioreactors that can range in size from a room to an entire building. One thing that will not change is the company’s custom software that can be used across all of its bioreactors.
“There are not enough large-scale bioreactors to produce all the bioproducts that companies want to make. We see this as a real opportunity to help these companies and contribute to building the infrastructure that the world needs for the future,” says Ball.
Thank you to Lana Bandoim for additional research and reporting in this article. I’m the founder of SynBioBeta, and some of the companies that I write about, including Culture Biosciences, are sponsors of the SynBioBeta conference and weekly digest.