Kiwi biotech startup Daisy Lab wins grant to replicate milk protein

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen

Alexandra Anschiz of Envato.

Daisy Lab – a Kiwi biotech startup out to reduce the world’s reliance on milk protein – has received a grant from a social-enterprise investment fund called Nous, set up by the founder of Ethique. 

Established by Dr Nikki Freed, research scientist Emily McIsaac, and former industry consultant Irina Miller, Daisy Lab uses precision fermentation technology to make microorganisms to produce casein and whey. These can be used in the development of dairy substitute products that are biologically identical to real dairy products like cheese and ice cream.

Brianne West, the founder & CEO of global sustainable beauty brand Ethique, created Nous as a management consultancy to provide mentoring, coaching, investment, and marketing support for environmentally and socially focused enterprises in their early stages of growth. 

With the launch of the ‘Got Nous’ competition, West hoped to compensate for a chronic lack of support infrastructure for startups that aim to tackle environmental issues but typically have a failure rate of 95 per cent within their first 10 years of operation.

Among over 500 businesses entering the competition, Daisy Lab has been chosen as one of the first winners to receive support from Nous.

“It comes at key stage in our development – providing us with the funding needed to hire new scientists and scale up fermentation of our microorganisms – a precursor to the development of consumer-ready products,” McIsaac says.

“We are a primarily scientific team with most of our knowledge base focused on developing the process that will help us create a viable alternative to yoghurt and cheese – having access to a team of consumer product specialists will be invaluable as we bring these products to the domestic and international markets,” she adds.

West describes Daisy Lab is an example of company that has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

“We know now that there are many more startups in New Zealand that also can make similar inroads into addressing systemic environment issues we face as a nation and they require customised support to grow to fruition,” she says.

According to West, the company is looking into expanding its mentoring program and developing a scholarship program.

Launched in 2012, Ethique is the country’s largest beauty product exporter, sold by 6500 retailers in 24 markets. The company’s mission is to leave the planet and its people better than they found it by doing ‘more good’ rather than simply ‘less bad’.

With a goal of 500 million by the end of 2030, Ethique has stopped the manufacture and disposal of more than 25 million plastic containers worldwide since its inception.

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen is a graduate of Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities with a major in English linguistics and literature. She is a writing enthusiast with a passion for culture, languages, and the environment.


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