Plant-based omega-3 pioneers, Qualitas Health, DBA iwi, announces it has secured $10 million in venture funds at a $73million post-money valuation. The investment round is being led by world-class FoodTech investor PeakBridge VC, Malta, together with Arancia Group, a privately owned Mexico-based food ingredient/food service conglomerate, Minrav (the company’s largest investor) and additional private investors. Additional convertible notes held by Minrav Holdings, Sasa, Trucent and other single investors are converted to equity. The investment will accelerate customer acquisition, and commercialization of the company’s unique plant-based protein. The funds will also be used to deepen its strong clinical science and IP and accelerate its expansion into additional geographies.
iwi is a globally renowned producer of the highest absorption polar lipid EPA omega-3 marketed direct-to-consumer and to retailers in the US market. iwi disrupted the algae-farming paradigm by growing its distinctive microscopic algae in cultivation pond systems the size of football stadiums built on non-arable land in the pristine deserts of New Mexico and Texas.
Unique to iwi’s process is that it relies on saltwater, with the sun as the main source of energy and places zero strain on the natural ecosystem. This allows iwi to cleanly cultivate immense amounts of the ancient sea vegetable Nannochrolopsis. This algae is one of the few existing plants that contains all of the essential amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — plus vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids, especially omega-3. The process reflects the company’s desire to bring sustainable nutritious food solutions to feed the growing global population.
“This investment will be instrumental to accelerating growth in 2021 as iwi advances to the industrial pilot stage of our unique plant-based protein, start the regulatory process, and conduct additional clinical studies. This uniquely sourced, complete plant protein will be ready for commercialization in 2022.”Miguel Calatayud, CEO of Qualitas Health
Qualitas Health currently produces proprietary, clinically proven, high-absorption omega-3. It markets 15 supplement SKUs under the iwi brand in the US, including soft gels and functional gummies. iwi has built a strong direct-to-consumer platform (DTC), and has an additional presence in more than 5,000 US retailer outlets.
“This new investment round is a significant milestone for our company,” adds Calatayud. “We are fortunate to have such prominent partners join us in our journey and we are grateful to our existing and new shareholders for their commitment and ongoing support. iwi experienced significant growth in 2020 with online sales, and strong sales growth is forecast to continue in 2021.”
“Qualitas ticks all the boxes for meeting our investment criteria,” contributes Nadav Berger, co-founder and Managing Partner of PeakBridge. “It has strong intellectual property, proven scaling capabilities, and tremendous sustainability impact — all of which give iwi a unique edge within the plant-based nutrition industry. We welcome Qualitas and its new and existing investors to the PeakBridge family.”
“PeakBridge is far more than a VC fund,” adds Yoni Glickman, Chairman of Qualitas. “PeakBridge, together with our additional new investors, brings decades of knowledge, expertise, and food industry networking, and Arancia is an industry leader with a long heritage of operational excellence and innovation. They also add significant value to our company. We warmly welcome our new partners and look forward to executing our ambitious plans together.”
PeakBridge was founded by Erich Sieber and Nadav Berger. Both spent their entire professional lives in the food industry and have raised and managed funds in the FoodTech space prior to creating PeakBridge. PeakBridge is a core member of the EIT Food consortia and invests globally in Series A FoodTech companies, including Tastewise, Ukko, BE WTR, PreNexus and Nick’s.
About Qualitas Health
Qualitas Health is a food and nutrition company on a mission to revolutionize the way we nourish humanity by unleashing the potential of algae. As an industry leader in algae cultivation, Qualitas Health developed a proprietary platform to launch fully sustainable, vegan, algae-based nutritional products at scale. Building on more than 10 years of experience in microalgae farming, cultivation, and extraction, the company’s scalable methods develop core nutrients that help all people lead a better life. Its technology allows for the effective production of proprietary premium food and nutrition products, marketed under the iwi brand, for a comprehensive range of health applications.