Pow.Bio recently announced a $9.5 million Series A round. Re:Food and Thia Ventures led the funding round, and they were joined by Hitachi Ventures – the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Hitachi, Ltd. – with participation from Possible Ventures, XFactor Ventures, Bee Partners, iSelect, Climate Capital, Vectors Angel, Better Ventures, and Cantos.
The company’s goal is to unlock the economic viability of sustainable biomade products by significantly driving down the high costs associated with biomanufacturing. And synthetic biology companies today cannot manufacture products at a price that can displace unsustainable petrochemical or animal-derived alternatives. The market impact of biomade products is estimated to reach $4 trillion by 2040. But until people can produce biomaterials at (or below) cost parity to their commodity counterparts, only the most expensive biomade products will ever be commercially viable – which limits the sustainable impact of such a promising technology.
In the Pow.Bio system is an intelligent AI-controlled software known as SOFe, which accelerates process optimization and drives autonomous operation. And the one-two punch of its advanced hardware and intelligent software drives five times gains in productivity for a fraction of the capital expense of traditional systems. The prospective clients don’t have to wait and can begin working with Pow.Bio today.
Pow.Bio also announced the construction of an advanced demonstration facility in Alameda, California, designed to provide partner companies unfettered access to this novel platform. The Alameda site was engineered to seamlessly transition from gram-scale experimentation to producing hundreds of kilograms of finished products. This facility will not only show the potential of Pow.Bio’s platform but also serves as a blueprint for commercial-scale deployment of the platform for the production of a wide range of biology-based products.
Many blame the challenge of cost-effective manufacturing on a lack of commercial-scale fermentation capacity. And the truth is that capacity alone cannot fix the core problem of lowering unit costs. Building more of the same large-scale bioreactors would not solve this problem.
For Pow.Bio’s partners, this new technology is game-changing. And for those with products already in the market, significantly reducing manufacturing costs with Pow.Bio’s technology can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Even though those that need to hit a lower price point in order to even launch a new product, Pow.Bio’s platform might be the only way to do it.
“Early on, we identified continuous fermentation as a necessity to enable cost-competitive, sustainable food production. We are excited to partner with Pow.Bio because of the strength of their continuous platform, the quality of their team, and their commitment and vision for a more sustainable SynBio future.”
- Peter Odemark, co-founder and Managing Partner at Gullspång Re:food
“Hitachi is committed to contributing our expertise in growth markets such as Bioproduction, and Pow.bio’s continuous fermentation platform represents a potential step-change in biomanufacturing economics that aligns with Hitachi’s expansion plans to enter into the Bioproduction business.”
- Hideshi Nakatsu, Vice President and Executive Officer, CEO of Water & Environment Business Unit, Hitachi, Ltd.
“By running a fermentation process more like an assembly line,” says Wang, “we see multi-fold increases in productivity without contamination or drift.”
- Pow.Bio’s CTO and founder, Ouwei Wang – who describes their continuous fermentation technology as solving the historical challenges that have made what some call this ‘holy grail’ of biomanufacturing so elusive
“When we hear people talking about the ‘capacity problem,’ we wonder if we’re the only ones who see that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Focusing on building capacity without addressing unit economics will expose the industry to more frustration about not delivering on its promises,” says Hall, “the right target is economic viability, and hitting it requires technical advances in biomanufacturing.”
“By building a technology that is inherently much lighter in its capital demand and therefore much lighter in its operational demand. We achieve two really valuable goals: we can build more capacity at a fraction of the cost, and that capacity can perform its job better by making products at a lower price – and at a lower price, a wider array of products can actually get to market.”
- Pow.Bio’s CEO and cofounder Shannon Hall