Berlin-based Project Eaden has raised €8 million in a seed round led by Creandum that will be used further develop and scale the company's proprietary technology. Joining an increasingly crowded sustainable food sector, Project Eaden promises “revolutionary technology” that “enables enticingly tasty but sustainable food at scale.”
Naturally, the startup’s first creation? Animal-free steak of course.
However, according to Project Eaden founders their, "technology is unique and makes it possible to produce NOT ONLY Steak but a wide variety of foods sustainably and efficiently. Our approach is to make sustainable food so irresistible that as many people as possible prefer it - and thereby do something good for our livelihood."
And they have a point. While there might be a great number of competitors angling to provide the holy grail when it comes to animal-free meat substitutes, the deck is clearly stacked against the carnivores. The business of animal agriculture consumes 83% of all agriculturally suitable land across the globe, despite the fact that it supplies only 18% of the food supply.
Adding another nail in that coffin, beef production uses nearly 60% of this agricultural land, but adds up to less than 2% of calories consumed worldwide.
Having backed Vivino, Cornershop, Linas Matkasse, and Stockeld Dreamery, it’s a safe bet that Creadum’s due diligence goes far beyond my own. Noting that they were on the hunt for something truly revolutionary in the space, the firm goes so far as to dub Project Eaden, “the Tesla of sustainable food.”
While the startup’s website is rather vague as to what they’re up to or how they intend to do it, one readily available clue is in the fact that they are actively recruiting Tissue Engineers. The job description outlines that they’re aiming to, “reinvent plant-based meat from the fiber up” and determine, “What plant-based materials have the potential to create the nicest bite-resistance?”
And then there’s the aforementioned founding team.
Leading the R&D department is RWTH Aachen University PhD Dr.-Ing. David Schmelzeisen whose background includes numerous positions within the textile industry. Similarly, after a 6-year stint that spanned pre and post-IPO Zalando, Jan Wilmking went on to found Upper Hand, a textile-related firm offering, “high-tech straight from the lab to everyday life.” Rounding out the trio, Iconic cereal brand mymuesli co-founder Hubertus Bessau brings his entrepreneurial and brand-building expertise to the table.
So if you’re playing along at home, we’ve got two textile industry-related professionals playing ball with a successful food industry executive, and are recruiting tissue engineers.
"Another advantage of our technology is that we can process a wide range of different raw materials. The unique taste as an overall impression of aroma, texture (chewing/mouth feel) and visual context is due to the special process we use. We cannot reveal any further details about this at the moment but soon."
If I'm reading things right, Project Eaden is fusing the science of textile engineering (and its focus on cost efficiency) and the creation of edible tissues designed to replicate, if not improve upon its animal-based counterpart. Thoughts only further ambiguously (not) confirmed by Project Eaden themselves.
"Our goal with Project Eaden is to make as big a contribution as possible to reducing emissions from food. And we do it through enjoyment, not compromise or prohibition. We do exactly that by creating new, different foods that are so outstandingly attractive (in terms of taste and pricing) that as many people as possible prefer to eat them."
While Ljubljana-based maker of a plant-based filet mignon Juicy Marbles might have something to say about what makes for an optimal dining experience, a Creandum representative told me, “... our team has seen all alternative meat products on the market and the first steak prototypes by Project Eaden were by far the best - in terms of taste, look and texture!”
“David, Hubertus, and Jan really make up the complementary dream team you look for as a venture investor, and when I first saw and tasted the steak prototype they had built I was mindblown,” concluded Creandum’s Carl Fritjofsson. “We couldn’t be more proud for Creandum to be part of Project Eaden in solving one of humanity’s biggest challenges with mouthwatering food products at scale.”