A world-first process with enormous climate performance potential
Nearly all startups claim to be creating unique, market-leading technologies, and these claims are often overblown. That is not the case with Farmless.
This Amsterdam-based fermentation startup stands out from the crowd in the fermentation sector because its expert scientific team has found a way to create a functional protein source without using anything sourced from agricultural land. The protein source is carbon-negative and has a complete amino acid profile.
We’re investing in Farmless because this is a world-first, and represents a vital breakthrough. Agriculture has taken over almost half of all habitable land on earth, pushing nature over the brink, and humanity needs an affordable protein source that can be produced without the need to draw on products grown on land. That need will only become more pressing as countries face ever-increasing droughts and harsher temperatures.
Until now, even fermentation companies creating low-impact alternative proteins have needed to use a sugar derived from agricultural crops as a feedstock (the scientific term for a starter liquid, that micro-organisms eat to create proteins). In other words, other fermentation products may be independent of animal agriculture, but they still fundamentally rely on CO2-producing agriculture and land use. Their starters are often derived from potato or wheat. By contrast, the Farmless fermentation process uses a feedstock made entirely from CO2, hydrogen, nitrogen and renewable energy.
Think of it this way: The Farmless process is based on the millenia-old practice of fermentation – the same process used to brew beer today – and this requires a sugar in some form as a base. That sugar is then digested by bacteria to fuel growth, just as the human body burns sugar to produce energy. In the Farmless method, bacteria digest the company’s new feedstock, eliminating the need for any agriculture-derived sugars up front. Therefore, Farmless is able to deliver a carbon-negative/ low-to-no carbon protein source.
We believe that Farmless’ product could have a transformative impact delivered at scale. Its efficient process allows for mass local, high-quality protein production independent from agricultural land and its climate impact – exactly the sort of climate performance potential we look for in startups here at World Fund.
We know that there is a significant need to reduce emissions in the farming, agriculture and land use category (FALU), which today is responsible for around 22% of emissions globally, yet receives just 12% of venture funding for climate. We are leading a movement to change that situation, and this is one of many investments we’re making that we hope will shift the dial.
A recipe for success: Farmless boasts a compelling and visionary founder, supported by a dedicated and talented team
Farmless was founded in 2021 by physicist and serial entrepreneur Adnan Oner. Ever since we first met, we have been struck by Adnan’s drive, ambition, and care for the people and the planet around him. He also has that ‘thing’ we look for in a founder: a rock-solid conviction about his subject and solution, and an ability to bring other people into his orbit and along with him on a journey. We have closely observed Farmless for several years now, and have seen him use these skills to keep his team together through multiple challenges.
World Fund was also convinced to invest by the diverse and talented team at Farmless. Nadine is a biochemist by training, and has spent years looking into fermentation companies. Over that time, she came to believe that scientists can truly fight climate change if we work together to come up with solutions drawing on our diverse expertise. Farmless represents that ethos: Adnan is a physicist with a scientifically diverse team and Board.
The Farmless team has already made major strides in the fermentation field while operating on a shoestring budget. Given the right support and funding, the possibilities are enormous.
Into the future: Essential funding to fuel development
We are proud to be co-leading Farmless’ €4.8M seed round alongside our friends at Vorwerk Ventures, and to partner with Revent and a cohort of angel investors in backing this groundbreaking company.
Farmless has already created an initial protein ingredient, and demonstrated that it can be used to create a range of successors to meat, dairy and eggs. Now Adnan and his team plan to use their new capital to build a pilot protein brewery in Amsterdam, develop the company’s fermentation platform, hone new products built from the protein source, and continue the process of pursuing regulatory approvals.
This is just the beginning of the road for a company with the potential to drastically reduce agricultural land use, and produce a genuinely planet-friendly protein source for millions - if not billions - of people in future.
We are entering a new era of novel protein ingredients, and innovative companies like Farmless are already pushing boundaries. We are confident that, through this work, our children will have access to products that can nourish their bodies without devastating the planet. We’re incredibly excited to be a part of the Farmless story, and can’t wait to help support the team on the journey ahead.
To find out more, please contact:
Dr. Nadine Geiser, Principal, World Fund
Danijel Višević, Managing Partner, World Fund