Cultivated seafood startup Forsea attracts $5.2 million in investment

Forsea Foods has secured $5.2 million to expand its cultivated eel offering and develop organoid technology.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
28 October 2022, at 7:31am
Forsea Foods team
The Forsea Foods team in October 2022

Forsea has raised $5.2 million in a seed round led by Berlin-based Target Global to develop cell-based eel

Foodtech startup Forsea Foods is pioneering the use of organoid technology as it makes cultured seafood products. With a goal of redressing the destruction of marine life due to overfishing, Forsea embarked on a mission to cultivate seafood—initially eel meat—without harming sea life. The eel has become an endangered species, while the demand for its meat keeps increasing in markets such as Europe and Asia.

Toward this effort, Forsea has raised $5.2 million in a seed round led by Berlin-based Target Global. Also invested in the round were The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, PeakBridge VC, Zora Ventures, FoodHack and Milk & Honey Ventures. The new funding will initially go towards growing cultivated eel meat, high in demand for kabayaki and sushi. Target Global’s contribution to this round marks one of its first investments in the foodtech industry.

Founded a year ago with the support of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub part of The Strauss-Group, Forsea is dedicated to preserving the fish population by creating a viable alternative to wild-caught seafood and leaving the fragile marine ecosystem completely untouched.

Organoid platform vs scaffolding cultivated seafood

Infographic on the seafood market

Forsea utilises a non-GMO organoid platform in which the eel meat is grown ex vivo as a three-dimensional tissue structure in the same manner it would grow in a living fish.

This technology bypasses the scaffolding stage and requires fewer bioreactors, a process that is much simpler and more cost-effective than traditional cell-culturing. It also dramatically reduces the amount of expensive growth factors required, making the final product more affordable. Iftach Nachman, PhD, co-founder of Forsea, developed the organoid technology to solve the bottleneck of the eel meat industry.

“We are eager to take part in Forsea’s quest to create sustainable, better-for-you seafood products that do not disrupt the biodiversity of the oceans,” says Shmuel Chafets, Executive Chairman and founder of Target Global. “Forsea is poised to make a dramatic impact on the seafood ecosystem. Its pillar platform solves a bottleneck in the cultivated meat industry by creating affordable, ethical, cultivated seafood products that can replace vulnerable fish species.”

Future plans

Forsea will inaugurate its pilot plant during 2023. The plant will allow the company to create a preliminary design for a large-scale alpha production system and to launch the company’s first products. The startup will invest the newly raised capital to accelerate R&D for both growing eel meat and developing the process for other fish species. Forsea also will improve and expand its core technology to enable organoid growth in large-scale bioreactors, while developing methods to increase production yield and profitability at a lower cost. These include perfecting a continuous feeding strategy and nutritional support. Recently Forsea expanded its R&D team and activities to Rehovot, in the heart of Israel’s FoodTech valley.

“We are very excited to announce the completion of this funding round,” states Roee Nir, CEO, a biotechnology engineer and co-founder of Forsea. “Our investors express their trust in our game-changing technology for producing seafood with a minimal footprint on the environment. The patented organoid technology allows us to contribute to a safe and more resilient food system consumers demand.”

“We can produce a product identical in flavour, texture, appearance and nutritional values to real eel,” emphasises Nir. “Organoid platform allows us to design the fish fillet exactly as it grows in the fish, that is, in a three-dimensional structure, without growing the fat and muscle tissues separately.”