Twig announces £3m in funding to create new bioengineering powerhouse in the UK
Bioengineering start-up Twig – which uses AI to develop sustainable alternatives to ingredients found in everyday consumer items – has announced £3m in funding.
The company aims to disrupt the bioengineering through its AI-first approach, in which it says, “tech drives the direction of the science”.
For conventional bioengineering, it can take companies between 4-10 years to develop potential ingredient strains and can cost millions, with no guarantees of success, but Twig’s new approach is said to slash timings to “mere months, at a fraction of the usual cost”.
The approach will create affordable, scalable and sustainable ingredients, created through bio-fermentation, that producers can use in the everyday items the world relies on. These ingredients will be able to replace environmentally harmful chemicals and ingredients such as acetone, palm oil or isoprene, which are typically produced from fossil fuels, or hyper-intensive farming.
Twig utilises AI to radically improve the speed and efficacy of lab-based bioengineering and can be broken down into three distinct tech pillars.
Bio:Builder is a biological tool that allows Twig to create the building blocks to develop its new sustainable ingredients. Grow:Bot’s dependable, programmable and scalable robotics, which enables Twig to manipulate and analyse tens of thousands of bacteria variations each month. ML:Bridge is Twig’s AI that connects the dots across the standardised and formatted data library generated by Bio:Builder and Grow:Bot. ML:Bridge reviews production yields against target thresholds and recommends pathway improvements.
The round included high profile investors such as Project A, Seedcamp, Zero Carbon Capital, UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund and several expert angels.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “The work being done here in the UK by companies like Twig – combining bioscience with AI and agritech – is further proof of engineering biology’s potential to solve some of the biggest sustainability challenges we face, and unlock economic growth and job creation nationwide in a UK technology. That is why the Government is supporting the £3 million backing for Twig as part of our long-term engineering biology industrial strategy.”
He continued: “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”.
The company was founded by Russ Tucker, who previously founded UK cell-based meat pioneer Ivy Farm, James Allen and Satnam Surae. Together the three founders bring commercial, scientific and tech expertise to provide a fully rounded solution to the market.