DryGro, developers of cultivation systems for protein rich Lemna, has announced that it has closed a Series A round with an investment of £2 million.
Lemna, commonly known as duckweed, grows floating on the surface of water. DryGro has developed an enclosed incubation system that can be used in sub-saharan climates. It will provide a locally grown source of protein for animal feed and an sustainable alternative for expensive imported soy.
Using a proprietary growing system, DryGro can produce animal feed protein 8x faster than traditional soy meal production. The company was founded at Oxford University in 2015, and launched its first pilot farm in Kenya in 2018.
DryGro intends to use the proceeds of the Series A investment to advance the development of its Lemna production facility near Naivasha, Kenya and expects to enter commercial-scale production of Lemna in 2021.
To date, DryGro has received support from investors and advisors including: Sustainable Ventures, aquaculture accelerator Hatch, Innovate UK, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Climate-KIC programme, the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 initiative and the European Space Agency. An earlier investment of £1.8 million, bringing its total Series A raise to £3.8 million ($4.71 million).
DryGro was supported in this round by investment advisors Fonte Capital and EthicalFin.
The Kenya pilot comprises semi-cylindrical structures that let in sunlight but protect the lemna from strong winds or downpours of rain. Inside are swimming pool structures for certain varieties to float through and grow, with a closed loop water filtration and recycling system, sensors to regulate nutrient levels and growth patterns, and a harvesting system that allows for daily extraction.
The team say its growing system could produce animal feed protein faster than traditional soy meal production using 99% less water because all water used can be recycled.
DryGro’s production system therefore requires far less land, is not vulnerable to outdoor weather conditions and can be built in most locations that have ample sunlight and inexpensive land.