Perfect Day for Cork as start-up raises $25m to develop cow-free milk

Company formerly known as Muufri is backed by Sean O’Sullivan and other major investors

Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day, a company that is developing  synthetic milk

Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day, a company that is developing synthetic milk

 

A biotech start-up backed by entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan’s SOSV Ventures and which previously took part in the VC firm’s life sciences accelerator programme in Cork has just raised nearly $25 million (€20.9m) as it seeks to bring its synthetic animal-free milk to market.

Perfect Day, formerly known as Muufri, is behind a product that uses bioengineered yeast to produce real milk protein. This is achieved by adding cow DNA to yeast cells, which are then combined in vats with fatty acids and water to produce milk.

The company was part of the first cohort selected to take part in SOSV’s Cork-based Rebelbio, the world’s first life sciences start-up accelerator programme.

Through this Perfect Day received about $50,000 in seed funding, lab space at University College Cork, and guidance from entrepreneurs, who included Mr O’Sullivan and CoderDojo co-founder and SOSV partner Bill Liao.

Founded in 2014 by Perumal Ghandhi and Ryan Pandya, Perfect Day has raised $24.7 million in a Series A round led by Temasek, a $275 billion sovereign wealth fund based in Singapore. Other backers include Horizons Ventures, Verus International and Iconiq Capital.

The company made headlines around the world when it announced plans for its cow-free milk product while taking part in the Cork accelerator in 2015.

Supermarket shelves

In addition to producing synthetic milk, which the company hopes to have on supermarket shelves within a few years, Perfect Day has also previously spoken of a desire to expand into making animal-free eggs and meat.

“SOSV pioneered the accelerator for life sciences and Cork hosted a true world first and the great team at Perfect Day have thoroughly vindicated the initiative with their stellar success,” Mr Liao told The Irish Times.

“Cork, which is a renowned life sciences cluster, provided the ideal launch place for RebelBio and our first cohort of companies are now reaping huge rewards on the global stage.”

The success of Perfect Day comes less than a year after SOSV was forced to cancel a planned second annual instalment of RebelBio due to a lack of backing from partners in Ireland. The $300 million fund also withdrew plans to establish a European version of Food-X, its international business accelerator, in Cork.

The aim of RebelBio is to unlock the potential of biology as a technology, de-risk and accelerate scientific innovation, and launch lean start-ups.

Infections

Among the other companies to graduate from the accelerator are MicroSynbiotix, a start-up that is developing oral vaccines to help combat infections in fish stocks. The business, which recently secured €1 million in investment, has remained in Cork, as have a number of other RebelBio graduates.

SOSV, which was previously known as SOS Ventures, was setup by MapInfo co-founder Sean O’Sullivan in the mid-1990s. Mr O’Sullivan was previously an investor on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den programme.

It has funded over 500 early-stage starts-up since it was established, and is currently funding over 150 firms a year through its accelerators, which cover areas such as hardware, software biology, food, robotics, medical devices, transportation and green energy.