Another Perfect Day for Cork as animal-free dairy goods company raises $160m

Biotech start-up that began in Cork accelerator is bringing lab-developed dairy products to market

Perfect Day founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi

Perfect Day founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi

 

A start-up looking to bring lab-developed animal-free dairy products such as ice cream, butter and cheese to market raised $160 million (€141 million).

This brings to about $360 million the amount Perfect Day has secured in investment since participating in Sean O’Sullivan’s RebelBio accelerator programme in Cork city in 2015. The company raised $140 million last December.

The funding boost comes just two months after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its approval for the company’s proprietary whey protein.

San Francisco-headquartered Perfect Day (formerly Muufri) has developed a synthetic product that uses bioengineered yeast which, through fermentation, produces a protein that is genetically identical to dairy protein.

Foods produced using the protein have the same nutrition, texture and taste of conventional dairy products.

The company was only founded when Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi came together to apply for RebelBio, the world’s first life sciences accelerator programme set up by Mr O’Sullivan’s venture capital firm, SOSV.

The start-up was part of the first cohort of companies selected to take part in the accelerator, receiving about $50,000 (€44,000) in seed funding, lab space at University College Cork, and guidance from entrepreneurs including Mr O’Sullivan and CoderDojo co-founder and SOSV partner Bill Liao.

Its founders made headlines around the world at the time when they announced plans for a cow-free milk product.

Perfect Day received its first patent for the use of animal-free dairy proteins in food applications last year and also sold out of a limited-edition synthetic ice cream it developed, its first product to come to market.

The company is due to announce its first commercial partnerships shortly as it looks to focus on manufacturing and commercialising its protein.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how fragile our food system is. We’re committed to building real change that prioritises diversity, agility, and resilience,” said Mr Pandya, Perfect Day’s chief executive.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board led the extension of the Series C round. Other investors include Temasek and Horizons Ventures.