Christchurch food processing optimisation firm CertusBio has raised $4.6 million to put towards global expansion in an investment round led by Pacific Channel.
Lincoln Agritech originally developed this technology through Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funding, with the programme being led by the late Neil Pascoe. KiwiNet money was then used to help make the technology investor ready. Lincoln Agritech still has a 28% shareholding in CertusBio, with Lincoln Agritech CEO, Peter Barrowclough also being a director, up until the latest investment round.
“We are very proud at Lincoln Agritech of our achievements in getting research commercialised," Peter Barrowclough said. "Everyone at Lincoln Agritech has been supporting CertusBio and Matt Jones in getting through technology validation, technical refinement and capital raising. We are delighted that this technology is now out and making a difference.”
Currently the technology is focused on the dairy market, including a recent trial with Fonterra. The company offers biosensor technology to food producers, improves production efficiencies and reduces the cost of treating wastewater.
CertusBio CE Matthew Jones said the investment round, which followed an earlier raise of $1.5m, provided the company with a significant opportunity to expand into North America.
Other investors in the round include Lincoln Agritech, Impact Enterprise Fund, NZ Growth Capital Partners through its Aspire NZ Seed Fund, and a group of existing investors.
Jones said the company’s plans included appointing a US-based executive to establish a presence and drive global sales of its technology.
It has also put two years of work into securing a partnership with US-based process technology company Relco, which will support it in starting a trial integration of its automated system into the Valley Queen Cheese plant, South Dakota.
He said CertusBio’s ‘lab on a chip’ technology continuously monitored production losses during processing, meaning adjustments could be made in real-time to improve plant efficiency and increase commercial returns to the company.
The firm’s process analyser is roughly the size of a fridge and sits in the food processing line, picking up on bacteria or any other loss inducing elements.
“The other significant benefit of the technology is to our environment. Commercial food processing facilities, such as dairy, beer and wine, fruit and vegetables, that use water during processing typically lose at least 5% of their product. This is not only inefficient and costly to the company, but these losses often end up in our rivers and landfills and, if they’re not managed properly, can be extremely harmful to our environment.”