By Karen Unland
Future Fields was founded to grow meat in the lab. It pivoted to generating the growth factor that cellular agriculture depends on. And now its leaders see a whole new opportunity in developing recombinant protein for therapeutics, vaccines, and other such applications.
The company isn't abandoning cellular agriculture. "We truly believe that industry has so much potential in terms of sustainability," co-founder and COO Jalene Anderson-Baron told Episode 25 of Bloom. "But we also realized that our platform has incredible potential to do a lot more things."
The EntoEngine platform is built on the common fruit fly — Drosophila melanogaster — something the company hadn't talked about much until May 2022. Now, this technology is at the heart of the startup's pitch as it seeks "to create the largest and most sustainable biomanufacturing platform on the planet."
Jumping right into pharmaceuticals is probably a little premature, Anderson-Baron said, as there are lots of hurdles to clear to live up to GMP standards. But there is low-hanging fruit to capture, she said.
"We're focusing on industries that we know we can get a good foothold in now and then planning to capture those more complex ones down the road," she said, noting the different sales process involved in shifting markets. "We know the science works. We're constantly developing new products. So now our next exciting challenge is just figuring out how to make that scale to a brand-new level that we've never done before."
The company had hoped to close a Series A round of fundraising in April. Anderson-Baron didn't want to disclose where that raise is at right now, though she hoped to have news "in the next little while." She did suggest the market is nowhere near as frothy as when Future Fields graduated from Y Combinator in 2020. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"Investors are doing their due diligence, they want to know there's something there, and you need to show them that their investment is going to be worth it," she said. "Cellular agriculture has had a lot of hype. And now it's time to see what everyone's been working on."