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C16 Biosciences raised US$20M‌ to solve Palm Oil problem

C16 Biosciences raised US$20M to put an end to deforestation driven by palm oil production by Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Synthetic biology start-up C16 Biosciences is a New York-based company that provides sustainable alternatives to palm oil using biotechnology as a substitute.

The company has received US$20 million in Series A investment round from its backer the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures and fresh investment from Waldencast and Future Tech Labs.

Its existing investors, Sound Ventures, Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, DCVC and AME Cloud Ventures has participated in the investment round.

According to C16 Biosciences, the fresh fund will be used to expand its team size in metabolic engineering, fermentation and product development, to lay the groundwork for commercial launch and produce new technology.

Palm oil is the most in-demand vegetable oil globally. It plays a crucial role in consumers’ daily lives, over 50 percent of consumer’s products –shampoo, soap, toothpaste, vitamin pills, make-up, bread, margarine, creamer, and many more products have palm oil in it. It plays a central role in a slew of industrial applications.

However, the Palm plantations are the main contributor to the destruction of tropical rainforest and corresponding ecosystems. Endangered species and native wildlife are being at risk of extinction.

Indonesia and Malaysia brag around 13 million hectares of oil palm plantation, almost half the world’s total, its rapid expansion is being blamed for massive deforestation especially in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Those two nations alone lost 25.6 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2018. This has put governments and businesses under pressure to find alternatives to palm oil.

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Indonesia’s Palm Oil Plantation (Credits: Grist.com)

Philip B. Duffy, Ph.D., President, and Executive Director, Woods Hole Research Center said, “Palm oil plantations have been a significant driver of tropical deforestation, which is an important contributor to climate change.”

This is where C16 Biosciences enter the role, the company has built a commercial technology platform that uses biomanufacturing—rather than agriculture—to produce a sustainable palm oil alternative that doesn’t rely on deforestation.

The company’s mission is to put an end to deforestation driven by palm oil production. Shara Ticku, co-founder and CEO of C16 Biosciences claimed that the firm’s technology permits consumers to buy the products they want while maintaining a planet-positive impact.

“Biomanufacturing will play a critical role in meeting our climate challenges,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Roberts acclaimed C16 Biosciences technology as an elegant biomanufacturing solution for palm oil replacement that positions the company to capitalize on the growing need for sustainable, low-carbon bio-substitutes.