Israel based computational breeding startup Equinom has raised $4 million from Roquette, a company that deals in plant-based ingredients for food, nutrition and health markets and in new vegetal proteins. In a statement, both the firms said that Roquette and Equinom’s current shareholder Fortissimo Capital will jointly invest $4 million in Equinom to support its further development.
This is the first agreement and investment made by Roquette in Israel. Additionally, Roquette and Equinom have signed a partnership agreement for the joint development and sourcing of new pea varieties with high-protein content.
Roquette currently operates in over 100 countries, has a turnover of around 3.3 billion euros and employs 8,400 people worldwide. Equinom’s advanced computational breeding technology is based on proprietary algorithms and calculation methods, which combine classic breeding with genomic and bio-informatics methods.
Under the agreement, Roquette will be able to be involved on the cutting edge of new non-GMO plant variety development addressing industrial needs and consumer expectations. Roquette offers an increasingly broad range of high-quality plant-based ingredients, particularly pea proteins, to the Food, Nutrition and Health markets.
Equinom was founded in 2012 and it is developing a full portfolio of non-GMO legumes that have 50% more protein than varieties currently on the market, creating the conditions for a future worldwide shift to a plant-based diet. The companies have signed a multi-year agreement for the development of high-protein and high-yield pea varieties with unique characteristics to suit the needs of innovative food developers. The resulting pea varieties could be grown and be marketed worldwide. Equinom will use the investment to further develop products that are essential to new food applications, complementary to animal-based nutrition.
“This investment represents a great partnership and a major step forward in the implementation of the Group’s strategy in plant-based proteins. It enables Roquette to position itself as a pioneer in the whole value chain for plant-based proteins. By contributing to develop new responsible and sustainable high-protein pea production thanks to this collaboration, we are demonstrating our goal of offering products increasingly tailored to the needs of Food, Nutrition and Health markets, and to better answer a growing customer and consumer demand. We are delighted with this partnership with Equinom, a highly innovative company, which enables us to provide our customers around the world with high-quality plant-based ingredients,” said Pascal Leroy, Vice-President of Roquette’s Pea and New Protein business line.
“The partnership with Roquette is an important achievement for Equinom, enabling it to leapfrog its high-protein pea program and commercialize its varieties with the leading global player in the market. Using its proprietary software-based breeding system, Equinom continues to revolutionize significant global crops by introducing key traits in record time. Since inception, Equinom introduced varieties in sesame that can be harvested mechanically, protein rich legumes, high-yield quinoa, and is currently targeting additional crops. Fortissimo Capital reiterates its commitment to support Equinom’s growth plans. The investment is part of our strategic effort to identify and invest in market leading food-tech and ag-tech companies around the world,” said Yoav Hineman, Partner at Fortissimo Capital.
Gil Shalev, Equinom founder and CEO, said: “The agreement with Roquette is a major milestone for Equinom, and its investment in our company is a vote of confidence in our technology and its ability to transform the plant-protein market. The agreement will guarantee the full commercialization of Equinom’s high-protein pea varieties. It will also facilitate the introduction of additional plant protein to market and enable Equinom to attain its mission of increasing the production of high-quality, sustainable food ingredients that are changing the types of foods consumed.”
To date, Equinom has signed a multi-year contract with Sabra Dipping, a joint venture of PepsiCo and Israel’s Strauss Group as well as a commercialization agreement with Mitsui of Japan.