Temasek leads $46m funding in US animal nutrition firm Ascus Biosciences

Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore state investor Temasek has led the $46-million Series B funding in Ascus Biosciences, a US-based deep science animal health and nutrition company that develops various microbial solutions.

In a statement, Ascus said the funding round was also participated by Anterra Capital, Formation 8, and Cavallo Ventures, with support from various angel investors.

The company first raised $12.5 million in its Series A led by LeFrak, a US-based family-owned property company, in 2016. It also secured $5 million in debt financing last year.

The fresh capital will be used to expand the company’s customer sales and servicing teams, advance its new and existing products, and enhance its technology platform, among others.

Ascus Biosciences adds to Temasek’s portfolio of nutrition, health, and food investments. It has invested in two early-stage agri-food funds: Big Idea Ventures for alternative proteins, and Trendlines for agriculture technology. It also led the $8 million funding round in plant-based meat and seafood maker Growthwell.

Temasek also backed the first global fund of Big Idea Ventures, a New York and Singapore-based venture capital firm that invests in plant-based food, alternative protein and associated foodtech startups.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Diego, California, Ascus Biosciences uses novel microbial community screening methods to discover, develop, and commercialise next-generation feed additives.

Ascus Biosciences, led by chief executive officer Michael Seely, said it utilises proprietary technology platform to resolve the complexities in the native microbial communities living in highly productive and healthy animals.

From these curated insights, native microorganisms are selected and isolated from animal samples and developed into products. It has multiple microbial solutions in development, with some already in sales mode from dairy, poultry, beef feedlot, equine, to companion species.

Commenting on the investment, Formation 8 founder and general partner Jim Kim said using modern science as a way to understand animal health and nutrition is good for the world’s food supply and works in harmony with animal welfare.

“Animals are an increasingly large part of our economy and food supply, yet the majority of the existing feed additives are at least 50 years old,” Kim said.

Ascus collects thousands of samples from the gastrointestinal track of the health, high-performing, and potentially disease-challenged animals to see how the microbial communities differ, allowing the company to develop products based on animal health and nutritional needs.

“Securing this level of funding will help bring Ascus technology to farmers and pet owners seeking newer, safer and more effective microbial solutions at a much larger scale as we continue to grow our sales and customer services footprint in the USA and the world,” said Michael Seely, chief executive officer of Ascus Biosciences.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.