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Alt-food startup Biomilq raised $3.5 million in funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures

An artificial breast milk company, based in Durham, North Carolina, has received $3.5 (£2.8) million from Breakthough Energy Ventures, an investment fund co-founded by Bill Gates. Biomilq was co-founded by Leila Strickland PhD, an accomplished cell biologist, and Michelle Egger MBA, an experienced food scientist. The company is on a mission to provide the next generation every opportunity to thrive by producing cultured breastmilk that offers supplemental nutrition to mother’s milk with the convenience of formula.

Breakthough Energy Ventures’ investing coalition includes Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Masayoshi Son, Jack Ma, Michael Bloomberg and Marc Benioff. The $1 billion fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, was established to help prevent the worst effects of climate change arising from carbon emissions.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure healthy development in children. But exclusive breastfeeding is unrealistic for some and impossible for many— due to low milk production, medical reasons, incompatible workplaces, or the ongoing stigma around breastfeeding in public. As per estimates, more than 4 out of 5 moms have to stop breastfeeding before the recommended six months.

That means the vast majority of us are turning to dairy-based formula. And that means many of us face serious trade-offs, as infant formula lacks the critical nutrients of breastmilk and carries a heavy environmental burden. Parents and caregivers are left with suboptimal choices, which is why biomilq is developing this option that doesn’t force a trade-off between babies’ nutrition and mothers’ wellbeing.

Biomilq co-founders, CEO Michelle Egger and CSO Leila Strickland hope that the breast milk produced by Biomilq from culturing mammary epithelial cells will help reduce the carbon footprint from the global infant formula market. While the pair unveiled their proof of concept in February, Eggers says they’re still in the early stages and they hope to have a product on store shelves within five years.

Read more at Biomilq

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