Helaina Raises $20 Million in Series A to Scale Production of its Human Milk Proteins Using Precision Fermentation Co-Led by Spark Capital and Siam Capital
Helaina, the company using precision fermentation to recreate immune-equivalent proteins previously only available in breast milk, announced today it has raised $20 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Spark Capital and Siam Capital, with additional investment from Primary Venture Partners, Plum Alley Investments, Tom Williams, Hannah Bronfman, Gabrielle Union, Matt Rutler and Barrel Ventures, among other strategic partners. The new infusion of funds, which brings total capital raised to $24.6 million, will be used to begin its manufacturing and commercialization process and execute its go-to-market strategy, as well as further the company’s talent acquisition efforts.
Helaina was founded in 2019 by food scientist and entrepreneur Laura Katz, who aspired to advance nutrition by recreating the functional components of human milk. Katz saw an opportunity to leverage fermentation by reprogramming microbes to create human milk proteins with health benefits. To-date, precision fermentation has been used to manufacture proteins which enhances foods’ sensory profiles. Helaina is looking beyond sensory properties by leveraging their proprietary fermentation platform to unlock a suite of functional proteins that are clinically proven to boost immunity.
“We’ve seen a lot of innovation and advancement in the alternative meat and dairy space, however, the infant formula category has been stagnant for decades. I’m proud to be part of the team bringing a new solution to parents that empowers and equips them with more choice in their infant’s nutrition,” said founder Laura Katz. “I was thrilled to see how passionate investors were to be involved in this round and look forward to the continued partnership as we enter our next growth phase as a company.”
For its first product Helaina will utilize its bioactive proteins to deliver the first humanized infant formula — a $50B market that is estimated to be worth $109B by 2027 — with proven immune benefits for newborns. Helaina sees their technology as a tool to improve health outcomes in formula-fed infants and in the future, plans to expand the use of its proteins in a variety of consumer products.
“We’ve seen increased market adoption of alternative proteins over the last few years. While we are moving away from animal products in other areas of consumption, a move towards human proteins is even more relevant for babies. We are excited to support Helaina’s novel precision fermentation approach to offer babies the immune-benefits of human milk proteins.” Andrea Turner Moffitt, Co-founder and General Partner of Plum Alley Investments.
“What captured my attention about Helaina was the company’s mission and ability to not only directly disrupt the infant formula market, an industry that has remained largely unchanged since inception, but also to fundamentally change the dated narrative around infant nutrition and breast milk,” said Sita Chantramonklasri, founder of Siam Capital, a fund dedicated to investing in technology-enabled businesses that meet at the intersection of sustainability and consumer needs.