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Brightseed bags $68m from Temasek, AgFunder to launch ingredients biz


Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Brightseed.

US nutrient discovery company Brightseed has raised $68 million in funding as it scales up its novel ingredients business.

  • Singapore sovereign fund Temasek led the Series B round.
  • AgFunder was among the existing investors to participate in the raise, with several unnamed new investors also joining.
  • Brightseed indicated that it will use the funding to accelerate its discovery of naturally-occurring plant compounds and clinical validation activities to commercialize them.
  • The San Francisco-based startup will also commercially launch its first ingredient to be designated ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) under US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) rules.

How it works:

Brightseed’s AI-powered discovery platform, Forager, was developed by co-founder and chief technology officer Lee Chae, a former researcher with the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Plant Biology at Stanford University.

Forager in action. Image credit: Brightseed

Without divulging too many details, the startup says that Forager “illuminates the connections between nature and human health” by analyzing plants and mapping their bioactive compounds, identifying which ones may have potential benefits for healthcare and dietary applications.

It claims to have mapped more than 2 million plant compounds to date; that’s 20 times more than the existing corpus of scientific literature, according to Brightseed.

Industry partners:

  • Danone
  • Ocean Spray
  • Olam Food Ingredients
  • Pharmavite

Olam calls on Brightseed’s AI to uncover health properties of garlic & pepper

Why it matters:

Brightseed’s first GRAS ingredient, due to hit the market later this year, is aimed at improving gut health. It contains two bioactives discovered by Forager in black peppercorns and the discarded hulls of hemp seeds: N-trans-caffeoyltyramine and N-trans-feruloyltyramine (NFT), which in testing have demonstrated the potential to clear fat from the livers of mice, as well as from human cells.

The startup is establishing a new “commercialization center” in Raleigh, North Carolina, to support the launch of its ingredients business; while its “science center” in San Francisco “will continue to be the home of [its] plant library, world-class technology stack, and compound discovery efforts.”

Brightseed also said it is partnering with Alexandra Real Estate Equities to “customize” its research and production facilities.

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