The start-up plans to take an AI-driven approach during the new product development (NPD) process, believing that the technology can reduce lead times and cut costs.
For conventional bioengineering companies, developing potential ingredient strains can take up to 10 years at significant expense. However, twig claims that the use of AI will allow this process to take just a few months, slashing costs in the process.
The firm's sustainable ingredients are created through biofermentation and have been designed to replace substances such as acetone, palm oil or isoprene, which are often fossil fuel intensive to produce or reliant on unsustainable farming methods.
The £3m funding round was concluded last month (September 2023) and included investors such as Project A, Seedcamp, Zero Carbon Capital, UK Innovation and Gaingels.
AI can deliver ‘step-change in bioengineering’
Established in 2022 by Dr Russ Tucker, Dr James Allen and Dr Satnam Surae, twig is based in King’s Cross, London. Prior to the inception of twig, Tucker founded cultivated meat start-up Ivy Farm.
The team currently sits at 10 and has tested thousands of ingredient strains with the help of AI over the past five months in the lab.
“Many of the biggest little ingredients that go into the products we use in our daily lives are hugely damaging for the planet,” Tucker said following the announcement.
“Through the right combination of AI and automation, we can deliver a step-change in bioengineering, driving a global transition from unsustainably resourced ingredients to bio-fermented ingredients in a way that benefits everyone – people, producers, and the planet.”
Meanwhile, Malin Posern, lead investor and partner at Project A Ventures, added: “We’re excited to be leading twig’s fundraise and to work with this exceptional founding team. twig is combining AI and SynBio in a novel way, to bioengineer the world’s most used ingredients - making them safe and sustainable.”
twig gains Government backing
UK Innovation is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a Government agency that invests in science and research projects around the country.
Speaking on the decision to back twig through UK Innovation, George Freeman MP, minister of state at the department for science, innovation and technology, said that the start-up was developing a solution to one of the UK’s “biggest sustainability challenges”, which could in turn “unlock economic growth and job creation nationwide”.
“That is why the Government is supporting the £3 million backing for twig as part of our long-term engineering biology industrial strategy,” Freeman added.
“The scope for innovations in engineering biology to boost our quality of life, our environment and our prosperity is precisely why we have earmarked it as one of the 5 technologies that are critical to the UK’s future.”