The company has leveraged new technology that enables for the screening and selection of plant tissue containing optimal concentrations of bioactives, with the subsequent cell culture being amplified in bioreactors.
Itay Dana, co-founder and BDO at Novella explains: “Novella develops a range of cell-based nutrients for functional food and nutraceuticals. We are working on various botanical compounds sourced from five different plants, each tailored to specific markets.
“Novella plans on using bioreactors in-house or through external fermentation services and partner with leading nutraceutical or supplement companies to produce botanical micronutrients and accelerate growth via a pilot plant in 2024.”, he adds.
Demand for botanicals
There has been an increased demand for bioactives within the nutraceutical and nutritional supplement markets, following increased consumer awareness of the associated health benefits and a rise in preventative health interventions.
“The increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability and food safety is driving the demand for plant bioactive cultivation in the food and dietary supplement markets.”, specifies Dana. “Consumers continue to demand products that are microbiologically safe, natural, and without chemical additives.
“There is an increasing demand for natural botanicals, accompanied by incremental rises in prices resulting from a shortage of such products. These bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, terpenoids, and antioxidants, have been shown to have benefits such as improving heart health, supporting gut health or antiaging and more, backed by science.”
Yet, the growth of such compounds remains an unreliable pursuit with traditional methods, due to the challenges of extreme climate events and reduced crop quality. In addition, these current methods of plant growth and botanical extraction results in vast land usage and increased food wastage, asserts Dana.
The Novella team have developed a process in which the actives within the specific plant are amplified, without the process of extraction. They specify that the process of oxidation is prevented as a result, enabling for full bioavailability of the compound. In addition, the environmental stressors which develop the plant bioactives, can be strictly controlled in this way.
“Growing nutrients outside the plant is actually a simpler process than growing meat cells outside of the cow,” explains Kobi Avidan, Novella’s chairman and CEO. “Moreover, we can now cultivate any ingredient close to the market of interest. This will be instrumental in lowering costs, as well as lightening their ecological footprint.”
With regards to the target consumers, Dana discusses “The products are derived from the family of antioxidants, vitamins and essential micronutrients so the target market is wide and includes health-conscious consumers from millennium to senior consumer groups.”
Due to the novelty of this area, the Novella team highlight the lack of research being conducted to support the technology utilised, with the industry and academia mainly focusing on its utilisation plant breeding and propagation.
Yet, Dana highlights that there is a growing interest for plant cultivation, with existing companies in the space, such as California cultivated and Bioharvest. He stresses that this growth will drive forward research to increase the scientific backing for their technology.
“We are planning on selling whole plant cell powder, not extracts, and focusing on the functional foods – we are the only one working on this market, as well as nutraceuticals”, concludes Dana, with regards to this current market competition.