From health benefits to improved shelf-life: c-LEcta eyes innovation in enzymes

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Investment will fund innovation and international growth ©iStockNicoElNino
Investment will fund innovation and international growth ©iStockNicoElNino
German biotech company c-LEcta has completed a financing round the proceeds from which, the company reveals, will be used to develop new products for the food industry and to support international expansion.

Leipzig-based c-LEcta said that it has attracted investment from Belgium’s Capricorn Venture Partners and the German investment company bm|t. The firm, which specialises in enzyme engineering applications, did not detail the value of the capital injection.

‘An attractive inflection point’

c-LEcta has reached “an attractive inflection point​” where the current product pipeline “forms the foundation for an accelerated growth curve​”, Capricorn investment manager Ludwig Goris suggested.

“We see that global mega trends and challenges in human nutrition are paving the way for industrial biotech companies like c-LEcta,”​ Goris continued.  

Thomas Pfaadt, who recently joined c-LEcta as CFO, also noted the importance of c-LEcta’s technological solutions to combating some of these global issues. “We are fighting the serious challenges of today’s human nutrition. A growing population and a growing demand for healthy natural food require solutions from enzyme technologies that the chemical industry cannot provide.”

c-LEcta is a fully integrated biotech group covering a large part of the value chain, from discovery, to engineering and commercial production of enzymes. According to CEO Dr. Marc Struhalla, this technical expertise provides it with an important niche in the market.

"The performance requirements for enzymes to be applied in industrial processes are in most cases very specific and vary from naturally occurring variations. Enzymes therefore need to be adapted to industrial conditions via enzyme engineering, and c-LEcta owns one of the most efficient technology platforms in this area. For enzyme optimization as well as for the development of artificial enzyme activities, we use patent-protected strategies that are inspired by nature. The industrial application of these technologies holds great market potential,”​ he suggested.

Innovation and international

As the group prepares to step-up its expansion efforts it will primarily focus on two areas: international growth and continued innovation.

On the former, Dr. Struhalla said that the experience of Capricorn Venture Partners and bm|t will support global expansion.

“The financial strength and valuable international network that we have gained through this financing round now offers us the opportunity to develop the full potential of our technology and people. With Capricorn Venture Partners and bm|t, we get two active investors on board that can contribute substantially to our international growth ambitions.”

The new funds will also be invested in the approval, launch and scale-up of products from the group’s innovation pipeline, further development of the pipeline.

Over the last five years, c-LEcta has conducted more than 30 enzyme engineering projects with a success rate of above 90%.

“The capital will be used for R&D and commercialization of new products with application in the food industry. Additionally to the existing product portfolio, c-LEcta has many new products with various applications in the pipeline,”​ a spokesperson revealed.

From health benefits to shelf life

c-LEcta’s existing product portfolio includes enzymes that reduce acrylamide levels in food products, enrich polyunsaturated fatty acids and improve fermentation processes.

The group recently announced a “major breakthrough​” as the first company to develop a process to enable the mass-production of a plant-based sweetener. “c-LEcta’s enzymes are used to efficiently convert the precursors of the sweetener into a better tasting version. This makes the cultivation more sustainable due to the smaller use of resources required in the process,”​ the spokesperson said.

In addition, two further food ingredient products with “high market potential​” are in an advanced development stage and the project pipeline comprises several promising candidates addressing the multi-billion-euro food ingredients market, the company revealed.

“c-LEcta is currently working on new products in the food area together with industry partners and for self-marketing, that are planned to be ready for the market in the next few years. The new products will have different advantages like health benefits or improved shelf life,”​ according to the spokesperson.

“This growth financing is intended to raise c-LEcta to a new level and elevate the focused food ingredients from the project pipeline to commercial scale production.”

New business model

c-LEcta currently works with industry partners to bring its enzyme solutions to market as well as marketing its own products directly.

The group is, however, working on “reshaping”​ its business model.

“The company plans to shift from mainly collaborations with industry partners, with which c-LEcta is jointly developing new biotech products, to additionally increasing the marketing of their own products directly to multiple customers in the food industry. The company thinks that this direct marketing strategy harbors the potential for a significant increase in revenues.”

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