Ankur Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on transformative technologies in deep science and climate tech, has invested seed capital in two early-stage biotech start-ups, MyoWorks and D-NOME.
While Indian biotech has shown astounding growth, funding for the sector has continued to be challenging due to regulatory concerns, high risks and long gestation periods. With climate change, the pandemic and various concerns around food security and the growing population, biotech has the potential to offer solutions to some pressing problems faced by the world today. This makes it an attractive focus area for Ankur Capital.
Founded by Nihal Singh and Shubhankar Takle, MyoWorks is building edible fungal mycelium-based 2D and 3D scaffolds that will support the production of cultivated meat products. The last decade has seen cultured meat production costs decrease by multiple folds. Still, one of the key challenges that remain is to replicate the multicellular complexity in the animal meat architecture.
Scaffolds that mimic real tissue environments will help achieve faster consumer acceptance and further reduce manufacturing costs. The company aims to create an ecosystem of ancillary products that will facilitate any cultivated-meat company’s vision to replace actual meat products with in-vitro meat.
Experts believe the cultivated meat market could grow to more than $25 billion by 2030. McKinsey reports that coupled with the innovations and economies of scale (annual production of more than 1.5 million tonnes), cultured meat will attain cost parity by 2030 and should be available for less than $5 per pound of meat. Scaffolds are expected to contribute close to 5 per cent of the meat weight, making it a multibillion-dollar industry itself.
D-NOME is developing a molecular diagnostic platform solution based on loop-mediated isothermal amplification technology (D-LAMP) with applications in human infectious diseases, livestock screening, agriculture molecular techniques and next-generation genomic sequencing. The demand for early detection of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, HIV, HPV, UTIs, HAIs, oncology, and genetic testing is increasing due to their rising prevalence worldwide.
The market for molecular diagnostics grew more than 230% YoY in 2019-20 and is valued at more than $20 billion. The major bottleneck for diagnostic labs and hospitals in scaling up molecular techniques like RT-PCR or sequencing is the high operational costs and delayed turnaround time.
Founded by Divya Sriram and Sujoy Deb, the D-LAMP technology is a low-cost alternative to PCR technology and has the potential to be used at the Point of Care (PoC).
“This fundraise will be instrumental for us to achieve our technological milestones, which will play a crucial role in helping bring cultivated meat from the lab bench to people’s tables,” said Nihal Singh, co-founder of MyoWorks on the announcement.
“As D-NOME is working towards building an effective disease diagnostics tool utilising synthetic biology and genomics, the current fundraise takes us to the next milestone closer to our vision of bringing affordable personalized diagnostics to all,” said Divya Sriram.
“We are excited to expand our portfolio in the deep science space with two exciting companies in mycelium-based scaffolds for cell-based meat and protein engineering for diagnostics in human and animal health. Both areas are ripe for disruptive technologies, and we are thrilled as Ankur to deepen our commitment to disruptive technologies,” added Ritu Verma, managing partner, Ankur Capital.