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Carbon dioxide recycle company secures funding goal

A fast-growing start-up company that recycles carbon dioxide generated from farming into an animal feed protein has reached a major funding goal.

Based at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, Deep Branch has just announced it has reached €8million Series A round funding led by Novo Holdings and DSM Venturing, paving the way for a commercial-scale production facility. Deep Branch is a carbon dioxide recycling company that uses microorganisms to convert clean CO2 into high-quality products to enable global sustainable animal nutrition.

Founded in 2018, the company is a fast-growing start-up operating in both the UK and the Netherlands and has created Proton as its first product.

Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch. Photo: Deep Branch
Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch. Photo: Deep Branch

The investment

The €8M investment complements a combined €4M in non-dilutive funding secured from UK and EU grant-funded projects scheduled from Q4 2020 to Q1 2023.

Novo Holdings and DSM Venturing led the round, with participation from Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital.

Deep Branch addresses both the sustainability of animal farming and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions with their CO2-to-protein technology, creating the first scalable path for a truly sustainable protein generation process from a waste product.

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First commercial scale production facility

The company says it’s main ingredient, Proton, is not just a more environmentally friendly feed ingredient, but will also provide a regular supply of a price-stable, price-competitive, and nutritionally optimal bulk protein.

The Series A financing will enable the completion of Deep Branch’s scale-up hub at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Limburg, Netherlands, producing the first pilot-scale batches of Proton for full nutritional validation with Europe's leading feed producers, including BioMar and AB Agri.

It will also enable the company to inform key engineering design work for its first commercial-scale production facility.

We regard our technology as a platform that we will leverage to address new markets with Proton, as well as expanding our product line to more CO2-based products.

Deep Branch: One of world's most impactful scale-ups

This investment round builds on an exceptional year for Deep Branch, including a recent highlight by the World Economic Forum as one of the world’s most impactful, commercially viable scale-ups as part of The Circulars Accelerator. Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, said: “The financial support and extensive expertise this investment round brings us will accelerate the execution of our vision.

“It reflects our heavy emphasis on collaboration, complementing our existing partnerships by bringing in new aspects of the value chain, including hydrogen, scaling bioprocesses, and commercial finance.

To meet our goal of commercial production by 2023, we have already begun engaging the necessary partners to make this a reality.

New markets with Proton

“We regard our technology as a platform that we will leverage to address new markets with Proton, as well as expanding our product line to more CO2-based products.

“We are concluding a mapping exercise to determine the optimal location for our first Proton commercial production facility. Norway’s world-leading position in both the salmon industry and production of low-carbon hydrogen make it ideal from an off-take and input perspective, putting it high on our list.

“To meet our goal of commercial production by 2023, we have already begun engaging the necessary partners to make this a reality,” he added.

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Novo Holdings: Growing investment in biotechnology

Johan Hueffer, senior partner at Novo Holdings, said: “A key objective of the Novo Holdings strategy is to grow our investment in biotechnology companies that can demonstrate scalability and long-term value generation.

“Decarbonisation is fundamental to reaching net-zero emissions targets, and Deep Branch is positioned to be a leading technology as demand for innovative solutions increases.”

Johan Hueffer, senior partner at Novo Holdings, and Rob Beudeker, investment director at DSM Venturing, will join Deep Branch’s Board of Directors. Lars Topholm, head of research at Carnegie Investment Bank in Denmark and non-executive board member of Deep Branch since 2019, has been elected Chair of the Board.

DSM Venturing: Applying scientific know-how

Pieter Wolters, managing director of DSM Venturing, said: “Protein is vital for good health yet producing it is one of the largest greenhouse gas contributors.

“At DSM we’re applying our scientific know-how to feed the world more sustainably, such as reducing the carbon footprint of animal farming and creating alternatives to wild-caught fish for feed. Deep Branch has potentially transformational technology and we’re excited to become an investor.”