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Izote Biosciences: Using Precision Fermentation to Create Bio-based Products

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By: Headliners News / February 15, 2024

In the burgeoning field of precision fermentation, where bio-based products like chemicals, medicines, and even lab-grown meat are developed through advanced fermentation processes, a startup named Izote Biosciences is charting an innovative course. Founded back in 2022, Izote Biosciences is working on a proprietary method that enables bacteria to “breathe without oxygen” inside a bioreactor.

The technology, inspired by synthetic biology, was initially developed by Victor Manuel Reyes-Umaña, who has a background in microbiology and fermentation. Seeing the potential of synthetic biology to create useful inputs, Reyes-Umaña established Izote Biosciences to revolutionize the precision fermentation process. He brought on Samuel Atwood as co-founder and CEO in August 2023.

The traditional precision fermentation method relies on microorganisms engineered to produce specific compounds, requiring a constant supply of oxygen for the microbes to survive. This necessity determines the design of the entire system, including the bioreactor’s size and the required equipment, making it a costly and complex process.

Izote Biosciences aims to bring about a significant shift in this paradigm. The startup’s innovation involves using an alternative molecule to oxygen that is highly soluble, resembling salt. This molecule is about 100,000 times more soluble than oxygen. Instead of pumping air and mixing the broth, Izote’s process dissolves the salt-like molecule into the media, allowing the organisms to swim toward it.

By using anaerobic organisms in its fermentation process, Izote Biosciences claims to achieve over 70% lower capital expenditures and gross margins 50% to 100% higher compared to traditional precision fermentation methods. The startup’s approach simplifies the bioreactor requirements, offering predictable scaling performance and an extended fermentation run.

While Izote Biosciences is utilizing fermentation as its method, it describes its approach as a “step change from the traditional fermentation process.” The company is focused on developing cost-effective, local feedstocks for a range of industries by creating “bio-based molecules.” Initially, Izote is targeting applications in the fragrance and flavor industries, engaging with major perfumeries.

Despite being in the pre-revenue stage, Izote Biosciences attracted significant attention from investors. In October 2023, the startup raised $2.6 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round. The funding, led by Embark Ventures and EGB Capital, with participation from Bee Partners, FTW Ventures, Nucleus Capital, Courtyard Ventures, Climate Capital Bio, and Redstick Ventures, will primarily be used to build a team capable of designing and executing Izote’s innovative fermentation process in a laboratory setting.

As Izote Biosciences continues its journey, the company aims to identify its launch molecules within the next 18 months. It plans to demonstrate that these molecules can be produced in the lab with a productivity level at least 50% better than existing market options. By taking a meticulous and economically driven approach, Izote Biosciences is setting the stage for a transformative impact on the precision fermentation landscape, offering sustainable and cost-effective solutions for various industries.

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