Millennium Food-Tech R&D Partnership (TASE: MIFT) has announced that it is leading a $5 million investment round in the Israeli startup TripleW, which has developed an industrial process for producing lactic acid from food waste. Lactic acid is the basis for manufacturing the renewable bioplastic polylactic acid (PLA). Millennium will invest $3 million in TripleW and the remaining amount will be raised from existing and new investors, as part of a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity).
TripleW, which was founded in 2016, has raised $12 million to date (not including the current financing round) from investors such as Eddy Shalev (Founding Partner of the Genesis Partners venture capital fund), Israel Oil and Gas Fund (the owner of Sonol) which led the previous round, Israeli private equity fund Elah Fund and the Hutchison Kinrot incubator. TripleW has also received grants from the BIRD Foundation, the Israel Innovation Authority, the Innovation Authority in Belgium, as well as from the EU, as part of the Horizon 2020 program.
TripleW, founded by Tal Shapira and Amir Oranim, has developed an industrial process for producing lactic acid from food waste. Lactic acid is an organic compound of major importance in the industry and one of its main applications is PLA, a biological plastic (or renewable bioplastic), which is produced from lactic acid. Additional applications for the company's lactic acid include household and industrial cleaning materials, preservative ingredients for food and beverages, and perfumes and cosmetic products. The PLA market is well-established and is undergoing constant expansion due to the growing trend of renewable bioplastic use as a replacement for non-perishable plastics that are sourced from oil and natural gas (fossil fuels). Until now, all PLA produced today has been sourced from food crops - such as sugar cane and corn. This is the first time PLA is being produced from food waste.
TripleW uses a broad variety of food waste and, at this stage, is focusing on waste flows such as logistics returns from supermarket chains (mainly products past their sell-by date), waste from food factories (mostly products discarded by quality control) and waste discarded at source by restaurants, catering, and more.
In business terms, the company has embarked on its first joint venture by setting up a factory with the Belgian organic waste management company, Group Op de Beeck. The factory producing the lactic acid can process 10 tons of food waste per day and is the first commercial factory of its kind, with its upcoming capacity fully accounted for by preorders by several clients. According to the company's estimates, by the end of the year, the waste plant will have a 50 ton per day processing capacity and with plans to enlarge the plant's capacity to 500 tons per day. The company is engaged in negotiations with several parties to install its technology in organic waste treatment plants in Europe and North America.
TripleW is the Millennium R&D Partnership's fourth investment after: SavorEat, which has developed a system for manufacturing meat alternatives based on plant ingredients; Phytolon, which is engaged in R&D into natural food coloring for the food industry; and Tipa, which is engaged in producing and marketing reusable packaging solutions designed for the flexible packaging market.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 28, 2021
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