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Peptobiotics closes a US$6.2M Series A to commercialise new biotechnology that enables productive aquaculture without antibiotics

Hatch’s Blue Revolution Fund led the oversubscribed round with participation from Seventure Partners, SEEDS Capital, The Yield Lab Asia Pacific, GrainCorp Ventures, Farmabase, Trendlines Agrifood Fund, Ponderosa VC, and other investors.

9 April 2024

Agrifood

Peptobiotics has raised a US$6.2M Series A to commercialise their antimicrobial peptide technology to replace the use of antibiotics in agriculture. 

Oversubscribed fundraise accelerates game changer for aquaculture industry

Peptobiotics previously won Singapore’s SINERGY Synthetic Biology Award in 2021, and in 2022 finished first place amongst over 3600 startups in Singapore’s annual Slingshot Global Startup Pitching Competition. Since then they have validated their antibiotic replacement product across trials in multiple countries and achieved milestones scaling-up production. Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Bester: “In 2023 we took our technology out of the lab and turned it into a real manufacturing process. In 2024 the Series A gives us the working capital to produce larger commercial volumes so that we can solve the industry’s disease challenges and cut antibiotics out of the food supply chain”. 

The startup’s first product targets the aquaculture industry, renowned for its antibiotic abuse, where bacterial infections cost shrimp farmers billions in losses each year. The round was led by Hatch Blue, a pioneering aquaculture investment, consulting, and media company, as one of the first investments from their newly launched US$ 81M Blue Revolution Fund: “We see great potential for impact by applying Peptobiotic’s technology in the aquaculture sector, where disease stands tall as one of the most challenging barriers to sustainable production and antibiotic abuse remains a key public health concern.” said Supriya Srinivasan, Managing Partner at Hatch’s Blue Revolution Fund. The round was also joined by a cohort of leading agritech strategics and VCs. New investors included Singapore’s SEEDS Capital, France’s Seventure Partners, leading diversified Australian agribusiness GrainCorp, and Farmabase – the largest animal medicine company for poultry and swine in LATAM. Participating existing investors including Trendlines Agrifood Fund, Ponderosa VC, The Yield Lab Asia Pacific, and others. 

Antibiotic abuse is creating a slow moving pandemic

The early 19th Century discovery of antibiotics is estimated to have saved millions of lives, extended average lifespan by 23 years and is considered one of the most pivotal turning points in the history of medicine. However, overuse of antibiotics enables bacteria to evolve resistance to them and cause uncurable disease. The resistance phenomenon has become a 21st century slow moving pandemic with antibiotic resistance in bacteria leading to an estimated 1.27M direct and 3.68M associated deaths in 2019 alone.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of antibiotic overuse

In the US ~80% of antibiotics are used in animals instead of people, and in less regulated markets the ratio is thought to be even worse. Farmers use antibiotics to protect their animals from disease, enhance feed utilization efficiency, and optimise growth. With global food demand constantly increasing it is challenging for farms to move away from antibiotics without compromising their ability to produce.

How to enable productive, resource efficient agriculture without the negative externality of increasing antibiotic resistance? 

Peptobiotics is commercialising recombinant antimicrobial peptides – these are naturally occurring bacteria inhibiting proteins that are a first line defense in the immune system of many organisms. The human genome alone is estimated to code for more than 100 distinct antimicrobial peptide genes, with thousands more found throughout the tree of life. Antimicrobial peptides can kill bacteria as efficiently as antibiotics, but most have a different mode of action that does not lead to antibiotic resistance. Since they are produced naturally by the body they are thought to be generally safer and less prone to potentially harmful side effects than traditional antibiotics. But despite decades of research, commercialisation of antimicrobial peptides has been held back by the lack of an efficient manufacturing technology. Peptobiotics is Singapore-based startup that has emerged as a world leader in research and production of recombinant antimicrobial peptides, using novel biotechnology to drastically bring down the manufacturing costs of even the most complex antimicrobial peptides.

This news appeared in: TechInAsia, The Business Times, AgtechNavigator.

Our breakthrough was screening through the 1000s of peptides to find the ones that could have real efficacy in agriculture, then figuring out the biotechnology innovations needed to produce them on an industrial scale at a price point acceptable to our customers.
Koh Jhee Hong, Peptobiotic’s Co-Founder and CTO

Antibiotic use in agriculture remains a huge challenge for the industry because many of the so-called alternative products make big performance claims, but cannot measure up to the efficacy of antibiotics when applied in the farm environment. Our focus at Peptobiotics is to use biotech to create a real agricultural antibiotic alternative that is effective for farmers, clean for nature, humane for animals, and safe for consumers.
Jonathan Bester, Co-Founder & CEO of Peptobiotics

There has been a global push toward food sustainability, and Singapore is no exception. Startups like Peptobiotics are making new strides with their technology to secure our nutritional supply chains. As both a biotech and agritech hub, the Singapore startup ecosystem is well equipped to help them grow, and SEEDS Capital looks forward to supporting Peptobiotics in its innovation, to go to market and scale.
Kaixin Tan, General Manager at Enterprise Singapore’s SEEDS Capital

For years the animal production industry has been waiting for authentic alternatives to antibiotics. With their technology leadership in recombinant bioactive peptides we foresee Peptobiotics emerging as a winner in the rapidly evolving ag biologics space. Seventure is pleased to partner with the Peptobiotic’s team to bring their first solution to market in aquaculture, and to join them on the journey towards providing the broader agricultural industry with a range of novel peptide-based biosolutions.
Laëtitia Gerbe, Partner for investments in the AVF Fund at Seventure Partners

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