Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

NuCicer moves closer to bring cost effective plant based protein to consumers


NuCicer, an agri-food technology company pioneering ultra-high protein chickpeas by leveraging the rich biodiversity of wild chickpea relatives, announced today the completion of a new seed investment round. Leaps by Bayer, the impact investing arm of Bayer AG, along with Lever VC, Blue Horizon, and Trellis Road, led the funding round, which follows an earlier investment round led by Lever VC in October 2021.

It will enable NuCicer to scale production of its first-generation chickpea varieties with 75% higher protein content, with the goal of reducing chickpea protein ingredient costs by 50% and expanding existing work with downstream partners and customers to bring affordable, sustainable plant proteins to end-consumers by 2023.

NuCicer's machine learning and genome-guided breeding platform is revolutionizing the plant protein industry by increasing the protein content of chickpeas, a high-demand but high-cost protein source, in order to lower production costs and meet consumer demand. Professor Douglas Cook at UC Davis, the world's preeminent expert on chickpea genetics and NuCicer's co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, led decades of scientific research that is at the heart of the technology.

The Company's vast germplasm library integrates wild chickpea genetics with elite cultivars through cross breeding, creating desirable traits that support major opportunities at every stage of the food system. It has 40x more genetic diversity than commercial varieties.

Long-term food system stability is dependent on increasing crop climate resilience. Chickpeas are naturally climate resilient, with high water-use efficiency and nitrogen fixation capabilities that aid in soil regeneration. NuCicer's genomic-guided breeding platform enables the discovery of genetic controls for key traits that improve climate resilience, such as heat tolerance, drought tolerance, acidic soil tolerance, and disease resistance.

“Expanding affordable, scalable plant protein beyond currently available soy ingredients is a critical and urgent need for our food system. Today’s investment round is a significant moment for both NuCicer and the wider plant protein market,” said Kathryn Cook, CEO and Co-Founder, NuCicer. “With Leaps by Bayer’s support, we look forward to taking the next step in our journey: driving natural ingredient technologies to the next level and bringing improved plant-based products to market.”

The work to develop innovative protein solutions aligns with both companies' strategic goals of providing next generation healthy crops and developing sustainable protein supplies globally, which are two of the ten investment goals of Leaps by Bayer. Protein is essential for a healthy human diet, but current animal proteins have a significant environmental impact. It is critical to have access to low-cost, climate-resilient plant-based alternatives in order to decarbonize the food supply chain and meet global emissions reduction targets.

“Leaps by Bayer was founded on the principle of driving real change to the world we live in via our investments, and NuCicer is an ideal example of how we’re working collaboratively to make a positive difference,” commented Dr. Jürgen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “NuCicer is a fascinating business that we believe will assist the development of climate resilient, natural, and plant-based protein alternatives that will help decarbonize our food supply chains.”

Leaps by Bayer's fourth investment in the alternative protein supply sector is NuCicer. Along with investing in cutting-edge technology firms like NuCicer, Bayer also works to help farmers increase production with fewer inputs while also supporting their decarbonization efforts, as part of Bayer's overall goal of reducing agriculture's environmental impact by 30%.