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Brightseed targets gut health, dietary fiber with its first functional ingredient



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

  • Nutrient discovery startup Brightseed has unveiled the first ingredient in its portfolio of bioactives discovered by the company’s artificial intelligence platform Forager.
  • Brightseed Bio 01 is a dietary fiber ingredient for gut health meant to be included in food and beverage items.
  • The product’s first application will be as part of a protein crisp the company developed in partnership with plant-based food company Puris.

Background: Brightseed at a glance

Brightseed’s Forager is an AI-based computational platform that identifies natural bioactives with health benefits in plants. The company’s goal is to find high-impact bioactive compounds to be included as functional ingredients for foods and beverages.

  • Earlier this year, Brightseed announced the discovery of two bioactive compounds — N-trans-caffeoyltyramine (NCT) and N-trans-feruloyltyramine (NFT) — in hemp hulls, the outer shells of Cannabis sativa seeds.
  • Both NCT and NFT have demonstrated an ability to clear fat from the livers of mice and from human cells.
  • Forager detected the same compounds in black pepper.
  • Brightseed also raised a $68 million Series B round this year led by Singapore’s Temasek with participation from AgFunder and others. 
  • Brightseed says it has mapped more than 2 million plant compounds to date, which is 20 times more than the existing corpus of scientific literature.
  • The company has partnerships with Danone, Ocean Spray, Olam Food Ingredients and Pharmavite.
Brightseed lab bench
A lab bench at Brightseed headquarters. Image credit: Brightseed

Brightseed Bio 01 at a glance

The soon-to-be-launched Brightseed Bio 01 is made from upcycled hemp hulls and contains both NCT and NFT. Brightseed says its new ingredient can “supports gut health by optimizing bioactive content in foods and beverages.” It can be included in cereals, bars, baked goods and other foods to provide additional protein and fiber.

Brightseed Bio 01 will make its official debut at the product prototypes at the SupplySide West 2022 show that starts on Oct. 31. The company will include it in several product prototypes, including the newly formulated Puris BioCrisp+, made in partnership with Puris.

Food manufacturers will be able to add Puris BioCrisp+ to their products in the future.

Why it matters:

About half the respondents to a McKinsey survey from this month said healthier eating was a top priority. However, that same survey found that consumers are increasingly frustrated with retailers and food producers for not keeping pace with this desire for more nutritional foods.

A corresponding article to the survey said, “to satisfy consumers’ commitment to eating more healthily, food producers and retailers need to get innovative.”

Brightseed’s new product suggests food manufacturers won’t necessarily have to do the innovating themselves. In the case of a product like Puris BioCrisp+, other manufacturers would only have to add the ingredient, not invent it. Food producers and manufacturers could, in theory at least, get healthy products to market faster and likely cheaper.

“Bioactives have been missing from American diets, and attention to their functions is the future of better-for-you products,” Anna Gustafson, RDN and Business Development Executive at Puris, said in a statement.

“PURIS is excited to partner with Brightseed on a novel protein crisp that targets the fiber deficit and rising consumer demand for gut health solutions.”

Brightseed co-founder and COO Sofia Elizondo added that Brightseed Bio 01 is “the latest demonstration of how Forager A.I. is furthering our understanding of how bioactives found in nature are powerful catalysts to improve human healthspan.”


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