The company says it will use the investment to equip its new facility, scale up production, bring products to market, add key talent and expand its roster of restaurant and foodservice outlets for product introductions this year.
“We appreciate having mission-aligned partners that offer strong strategic value for the next phase of our growth, which will involve building up the business and brand,” said Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua Cultured.
“Being good stewards of investor capital is important to us, so along with hitting milestones earlier than expected, we are benefiting from government programmes, academic resources, and other advantages to get to market quickly,” she added.
The new round was led by Stray Dog Capital, a fund specialising in alternative protein investments, with participation from H Venture Partners, Aztec Capital Management and Amplifica Capital, along with follow-on investment from current investors Supply Change Capital, Big Idea Ventures, HPA, Aera VC, Kingfisher Family Investments, and Swiss Pampa. The round also included a strategic investment from CJ CheilJedang, a South Korea-based global food and bio company owning brands such as Bibigo.
Aqua’s primary value is its low cost of scaling and its path to price parity, thanks to proprietary fermentation methods that use relatively affordable inputs and equipment. The company recently acquired a food-grade facility that was already built out nearly to its requirement – which it estimates will save more than a million dollars in construction costs.
Aqua was recently accepted into the Illinois Office of Business Development’s EDGE programme, which provides tax incentives to growing companies, which will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over the next 10 years.
“The adage is true that early-stage funds heavily weight investment conviction in people, and less in technologies or products given the embryonic nature of companies at these stages, but Aqua already boasts strength across its team, product, and key partnerships already in place,” said Johnny Ream, partner at Stray Dog Capital, in a press release.
“We are interested in backing founding teams leveraging unique technologies and approaches that drive a more sustainable future; the work Aqua is doing with alt-seafood has immense potential to drive both human and planetary benefits in a massive $100B+ global market.”