Novel bioactives developer in by-product upcycling deal with Japanese brewing giant Asahi

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Gerasimov174
© GettyImages/Gerasimov174

Related tags microbiome modulation brewers’ spent grains Animal health Poultry

Embion Technologies, a Swiss startup specializing in the development of functional nutrients for human and animal health, has announced a collaboration with Japanese brewing giant, the Asahi Group, in relation to extracting potent molecules from industrial biomass sidestreams.

As part of the partnership, Embion said it has also raised part of its Series A funding round with the Japanese company.

By building strategic alliances like this, we can leverage our platform technology globally and continue our growth trajectory, which will be supported by our Series A funding round launched in mid-November,” ​commented Andreas Th. Weckherlin, chairman of the board at Embion, which is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

The deal between Embion and Asahi is now mostly focused on human nutrition applications. But the partners will also look to the possibility of having spinouts into animal nutrition applications in the future, a spokesperson for the Swiss innovator told FeedNavigator.

The collaboration was initiated more than two years ago when Embion was developing a hydrolyzed brewers’ spent grain ingredient with prebiotic properties for use in animal feed, Prembion - the first commercial product to come out of its rapid prototyping platform.

Embion says there are over 80 more products with microbiome modulation potential waiting in the wings.

“The Asahi-Embion partnership brings together deep skills in business and technology strategy, product ideation, technology development and deployment. The potential of our collaboration is as impactful as our technologies,”​ said Georgios Savoglidis, founder and CEO, Embion.

In October this year, we reported how the startup had been awarded a grant of CHF250k (US$276k) from a Swiss public purpose fund, Foundation ALCEA. The capital, it said, would help kick-off its Series A financing round aimed at scaling Embion’s product offerings across different markets.

Savoglidis told us then: “With the Series A funding we expect to raise a low double-digit million amount to scale up. We are in negotiations with partners globally allowing us to speed up market entries. Scale-up is already happening and will intensify when we manage to grow our Prembion footprint.”

The company is targeting the poultry industry first with Prembion. The product was placed on the EU feed materials list in March 2020. This hydrolysis of brewers’ spent grains is claimed to promote microbiome modulation, providing a new cost-effective option for producers looking for antibiotic alternatives.

Embion said that in vitro trials had shown Prembion to encourage the growth of bacteria that are considered beneficial for animal health.

For the next couple of years, the CEO said the animal health and nutrition market will account for a significant part of its operations. However, the company is also looking to penetration the human health and nutrition sectors.

Its Series A funding round started in mid-November; the company said it will communicate amounts raised once the round is closed. "Existing shareholders have committed [to] strong follow-up participation.

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