Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud's KBW Ventures has made a further investment in California-based BlueNalu, which produces laboratory-grown seafood, after participating in the latest financing round of the food start-up.
BlueNalu raised $60 million in debt through the issue of new convertible notes to both new and existing investors, the company announced on Tuesday evening. This is its largest funding round to date, the company said.
“Our commitment to inject further capital is based on the company’s impressive forward roadmap, detailing a clear path to ramping up production and bringing its first product to market,” Prince Khaled, founder and chief executive of KBW Ventures, said.
The company did not disclose the amount it had invested in the latest round. It had previously invested in BlueNalu's $20 million Series A funding round in February last year. Blue Nalu also raised seed funding of $4.5m in 2018, the year in which its operations began.
“KBW Ventures is pleased to play a role in the largest financing ever for a cell-based seafood company, aligning ourselves with mission-driven businesses that seek to solve the world’s food security issues sustainably,” Prince Khaled added.
Rage Capital led the latest financing round, and other significant participants include Agronomics, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, McWin, and Siddhi Capital.
The funds will be used by BlueNalu to open a pilot production facility of almost 40,000 square feet, completing a Food and Drug Administration regulatory review for its first products and initiating marketplace testing throughout the US, the company said in a statement.
“The team at BlueNalu is driven to produce cell-based seafood products that are healthy for consumers, humane for animals, sustainable for our planet, and provide increased food security to each nation in which we go to market,” Lou Cooperhouse, the company’s president and chief executive, said.
“This recent round of funding will allow us to continue advancing our mission and the next phase of our commercialisation plans,” he added.
BlueNalu plans to introduce a variety of cell-based seafood products from its pilot production facility in San Diego. It expects to launch its first product to market – lab-grown mahi mahi – later this year, followed by a premium bluefin tuna.
The global market for seafood is valued at an estimated $200 billion but is highly vulnerable, Amir Feder, BlueNalu’s chief financial officer, said.
“With strong investor support, our innovative and visionary management team demonstrates a clear value proposition, technology, IP and a comprehensive regulatory strategy … all of which provide a solid foundation as we move closer to our in-market launch,” he added.
BlueNalu is currently setting up joint venture partnerships within key markets where it will operate. These partnerships are expected to allow them to navigate regulatory pathways, lower the cost of goods and introduce new species and products.