Clean Milk for
People & Planet.

We envision a future where all children and families anywhere in the world have access to safe, clean milk and milk products of full-composition, function, and flavor.

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TurtleTree Lab’s proprietary cell-based processes of creating clean milk completely bypass the environmental degradation and animal welfare issues of industrial dairy, nourishing individuals and societies and reducing environmental, social, and economic stressors.

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TurtleTree Lab’s proprietary cell-based processes of creating clean milk completely bypass the environmental degradation and animal welfare issues of industrial dairy, nourishing individuals and societies and reducing environmental, social, and economic stressors.

Save

Supported by leading scientific, governmental, and investment partners, TurtleTree Labs will license technical capabilities to the world’s leading packaging facilities to scale rapidly into the US$716B global dairy market.

Scale

Story

Sustainable cell-based food tech 3.0 startup addresses US$716B global dairy market and environmental crisis with ‘clean milk’

TurtleTree Labs is a big-vision, proprietary sustainable food technology venture boldly addressing a multi-billion dollar global dairy market opportunity with the capability to create enormous financial and social value by providing accessible nourishment while staving off the threats of food, economic, and socio-political insecurities.

About the Company

TurtleTree Labs is a Singapore-based startup addressing the value gap created by an insufficient and unsustainable animal-based dairy industry. Cell-based methods are used to make ‘clean milk’ and cultured milk products. Founders include alumni of Google, other U.S. and Asian productively disruptive technology ventures, and a leading U.S. traditional dairy.

Products and Services

The company has created patent-protected technologies to make full-composition, full-functionality, full-flavor milk referencing humanely selected dairy cow cells then mimicking the natural process of milk production in the lab, essentially making real milk without the pollution, inefficient use of land, water and energy (natural resources), pathogen and disease risk, and tangled

regulatory politics. The product will be 95% less resource consumptive. TurtleTree will own the technologies that make the milk, leveraging and enabling its IP across global regions and manufacturers. Principal revenue streams include licensing, enablement consulting, and royalties. Additional revenue may include branded consumer products distributed regionally by global dairy companies.

Strategic Considerations

The company is advantaged by committed support from the various Singapore government agencies, in alignment with Singapore's goals to produce 30% of its own nutritional needs by 2030. The company will first address a propitious market opportunity in Asia, then move into other promising market areas similarly driven by increasing populations seeking better nourishment or encumbered by poor dairy infrastructure and declining environmental quality. Licensing the technology to powerful local processors and distributors pierces their hegemonic operating environments and defenses, further building company value. TurtleTree improves on each key driver—Nutritional value, food safety, convenience.

How

TurtleTree Labs acellular technology works by culturing mammary cells in-vitro and inducing their natural ability to produce all components of milk. Cellular agriculture is entirely safe and widely used in the market today.

The first step involves obtaining stem cells from sources such as milk. They are then transferred into an environment where they convert into mammary gland cells. The mammary gland cells interact with a special formula which causes the cells to lactate. The end product - milk is obtained through a filtration process

Stem Cells

Bioreaction

Formation

Linkage

Flow

Team.

Fengru Lin

Chief Executive Officer

Max Rye

Chief Strategist

Dr Rabail Toor

Chief Scientist

Dr Gen Yong

Chief Technological Officer

Fengru Lin

As our CEO, Fengru leads the overall TurtleTree Labs team. What started as a passion to make cheese turns into a hunt for good quality milk in Asia. Her sourcing attempt failed which prompted Fengru to dive into the idea of creating milk herself. With this, Fengru boldly founded TurtleTree Labs to create milk through cell-based methods. This technology will shape the future of not just how we get our dairy milk, but disrupt the whole infant nutrition market! For the first time in history, we are able to create real milk without having to go through an animal.

Max Rye

As our Chief Strategist, Max’s focus is on leading the TurtleTree Labs Team to transform the global milk industry. He holds a Computer Science degree from University of California. Hailing 20+ years of executive experience in the tech space, Max believes that technology can solve the world's biggest problems. Using cell-based technology TurtleTree Labs is able to create mammalian milk including human breast milk which will transform the entire infant formula industry. Max formulates strategies and gives direction to the team to accelerate the company’s growth to the next level.

Dr Rabail Toor

As our Chief Scientist, Dr. Rabail leads a team of amazing scientists in the development of our proprietary cell-based technology to create milk of all mammals. Dr. Rabail graduated from the University of Punjab with a PhD in Biology/ Biological Sciences. She has extensive research experience with stem cells, differentiation processes, and mammary cells through her involvement in aging, mitochondrial dysfunction, regenerative medicine, and the development of anti-breast cancer drugs research projects. She has also participated in national and global conferences, and her poster on mitochondrial dysfunction during cellular aging won first place at an international conference. Enraged by the maltreatment of animals and poor milk quality in the dairy industry, Dr. Rabail is extremely excited to be able to create such transformational technology.

Dr Gen Yong

As our Chief Technological Officer, Dr. Gen Yong will oversee the Bio-processing unit in the design and implementation of bioreactors for TurtleTree Labs. Dr. Gen Yong is an experienced scientist and innovator with over 10 years of international experience in academic and industrial R&D in the healthcare and materials space. Dr. Gen Yong has helped spin-off 2 successful start-ups. His rich experience in adding value and impact via research commercialization and value capture to ecosystem partners in the medtech, food and nutrition and healthcare spaces, is invaluable to TurtleTree Labs.

Dr Jonathan Loh

Chief Innovation Officer

Mkulima Britt

Finance Advisor

Billie Thein

Marketing Advisor

Dr Jonathan Loh

As our Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Jonathan takes point on the various products and technologies that the company adopts. Dr. Jonathan earned a PhD in Integrative Sciences and Engineering, and then a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. With several grants and two patents to his name, Dr. Jonathan has garnered worldwide acclaim for his research in cell fate engineering, cellular reprogramming, and regenerative medicine among other fields of stem cell technology. He has won numerous national, regional, and international accolades, most notable of which were the World Technology Award and MIT TR35 Asia Pacific awards for his breakthroughs in biotechnology.

Mkulima “M” Britt

Prior to TurtleTree, Mkulima was an executive in the US dairy industry for +20 years. 'M' is an owner of Clover Sonoma and has lead the company in various roles, COO, CFO and during that time grew revenues 3x to $200M.

Billie Thein

Brand strategy and marketing in premium functional, dairy, and plant-based food and beverage.

Media

Human Breast Milk Breakthrough by TurtleTree Labs

TurtleTree Labs sets to showcase the world's first human breast milk using cell-based technology at their April 21, 2020 Future of Clean Milk launch. Coming off from a successful funding round, the team has brought on world class scientists like Jonathan Loh (Winner of World Technology Award and MIT TR35 Asia Pacific Awards) to accelerate the development and commercialization of their first product: human breast milk.

This will transform the $45B infant nutrition market, which is set to grow to $103B by 2026. Human breast milk as a replacement to infant formula promises to give infants identical nutritional components like the full spectrum of oligosaccharides, fats and carbohydrates as expressed by mothers. In a strategic move, Singapore attracted 4 of the world's 5 largest infant formula companies to have production and R&D centers in the city state.

Part of TurtleTree Lab's strategies include robust plans for driving the business across product, strategy and operations. The team has recruited top regulatory and IP attorneys in the cell-based food industry. "We are excited to have the best teams around us that also represent the likes of Memphis Meats and Impossible foods. This enables our customers to commercially license our IP for their custom use, while keeping in line with regulatory requirements," says Fengru Lin, CEO of TurtleTree Labs.

As Singapore imports more than 99 percent of its dairy consumption needs, it has set a major initiative to ensure food security. The initiative aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs within the island by 2030. TurtleTree Labs is in the perfect place at the right time as government bodies like Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Food Agency, A*STAR national research institute all get behind to enable the commercialization of human breast milk. Singapore has some of the top scientists in the world and their research quality ranks well above world average. Singapore is incentivizing select companies to set up their R&D centers there by subsidizing recruitment, using it as a way to stay ahead in innovation.

As the team has grown to over 30 scientists and researchers, they are still growing rapidly with expansion to the US. "Our new office in San Francisco is important as we work with regulators and industry groups to accelerate market adoption," says Max Rye, Chief strategist of TurtleTree Labs.

Prince Invests In Tech Company Making Animal

'We have a lot of confidence in TurtleTree's progress as a biotech company and in the direction they are taking from a business perspective'

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal has invested in a tech company working to make real milk from animal cells, with no animal needed.

Singapore-based TurtleTree Labs, which was co-founded by CEO Fengru Lin, CSO Rabail Toor, and Chief Strategist Max Rye, has just completed its pre-seed funding round.

Disrupting the milk industry

According to TurtleTree, it has developed a 'unique proprietary technology that uses mammary cells to produce real, full milk in clean food production facilities'.

The end product being the same as human breast milk and cow milk and will be sold as a food product - meaning it has the potential to disrupt the existing baby formula industry.

Funding

"The seed funding will be used to further build out the company's scientific team and to create additional prototypes. TurtleTree Labs plans to publicly debut the world’s first cultivated milk products in the Spring," said Rye.

Lin added that the company will now bring in 'the right talent' needed for rapid acceleration. "We believe the entire landscape of traditional bovine milk will be transformed as a result of our technology," she said.

'Fascinating'

The pre-seed round was led by Lever VC, a venture capital fund specializing in alternative protein investments. Nick Cooney, Founder and Managing Partner at Lever VC, said: "What TurtleTree Labs is doing is fascinating, and their technology could be a serious disruptor in the global dairy industry.

"They are the first company in the world producing real, whole milk from cell cultivation - which opens the door for safer, healthier and customized dairy products that can be produced with far fewer natural resources."

'The future of food'

"KBW Ventures' interest in TurtleTree stems from both from the team vision and the company's strategic approach to the future of food using stem cell technology," said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, founder and Chief Executive Officer, KBW Ventures.

"Having spent time with the founding team in Singapore, we have a lot of confidence in TurtleTree's progress as a biotech company and in the direction they are taking from a business perspective."

First lab produced breast milk

Singapore-based biotech start-up TurtleTree Labs is set to showcase the world’s first human breast milk created using cell-based technology. Notably, the company is claiming to have cracked the code in producing a complete nutritional biomatch to human breast milk. This breakthrough comes at a time when formulators are aiming to bridge the gap between infant formulas and mother’s milk, while tapping into the multi billion dollar infant nutrition market. TurtleTree Labs is now focusing on the development and commercialization of the milk concept.

 

“We should be able to bring the cost down to as low as US$35 per liter in 2020, however we anticipate this price will drop further as we continue to innovate. Our strategy is to work with existing infant formula companies to license the technology and the end product will be based on what our customers decide. They have deep consumer insights and can set this as a premium product in their existing lineup,” Max Rye, Chief Strategist at TurtleTree Labs, tells NutritionInsight

The launch is positioned by TurtleTree Labs as transforming the US$45 billion infant nutrition market, which the company expects to grow to US$103 billion by 2026. Human breast milk as a replacement to infant formula promises to give infants identical nutritional components like the full spectrum of oligosaccharides, fats and carbohydrates as expressed by mothers. In a strategic move, Singapore attracted four of the world’s five largest infant formula companies to have production and R&D centers in the city state, the company highlights.

“We have hired an amazing biomanufacturing team that is operating the large scale bioreactors needed to commercialize cell-based milk. This is complemented with our intellectual property and regulatory team which is driving to get our product to market. Commercialization requires experienced business teams – and this is one of our strengths,” explains Rye.

Notably, breast milk is rich in human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are the third most abundant solid component in human milk after lactose and fat. Research increasingly demonstrates that much of breast milk’s value lies within these components. HMOs have prebiotic properties and are incredibly complex to replicate. Previous studies have underscored the value of HMOs in infant prenatal and postnatal development.

“We are able to produce the complete biomatch of the nutritional content of human breast milk. All HMOs, proteins and fats are replicated with our technology. A few areas that are unique to the mother are antibodies (coming from the mother’s blood) and the microbiota (coming from the mother’s gut),” highlights Rye.

Strategic business moves
Part of TurtleTree Lab’s strategies include robust plans for driving the business across product, strategy and operations. The team has recruited regulatory and intellectual property attorneys in the cell-based food industry. “We are excited to have the best teams around us that also represent the likes of Memphis Meats and Impossible foods. This enables our customers to commercially license our IP for their custom use, while keeping in line with regulatory requirements,” says Fengru Lin, CEO of TurtleTree Labs.

As Singapore imports more than 99 percent of its dairy consumption needs, it has set a major initiative to ensure food security, notes the start-up. An initiative aims to produce 30 percent of its nutritional needs within the island by 2030. At present, government bodies such as Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Food Agency and the national research institute A*STAR are supporting the commercialization of human breast milk. The nation is currently incentivizing select companies to set up their R&D centers there by subsidizing recruitment.

As the team has grown to over 30 scientists and researchers, they are still growing rapidly with expansion to the US. “Our new office in San Francisco is important as we work with regulators and industry groups to accelerate this market adoption,” says Rye.

Banking on breast milk
Breast milk is ubiquitously considered the ideal source for complete infant nutrition, with significant investments being made toward replicating its composition in marketable replacement formulas for babies and toddlers. Some of these formulas targeted at toddlers, however, have been subject to criticism for their high sugar content and lack of added benefits backed by scientific research.

“The reality is that toddler milks are sweetened milk-based drinks with added nutrients that are not scientifically proven to benefit young children’s development. Moreover, they cost three to five times as much as standard milk,” Frances Fleming-Milici, Director of Marketing Initiatives for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, previously asserted in a NutritionInsight.

A panel representing the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association further issued guidance recommending that parents do not serve toddler milks.

Last April, BASF and Glycosyn signed a partnership agreement for the development and commercialization of HMOs for broad use in dietary supplements, functional nutrition and medical food. In the following month, BASF launched its first HMO, PREBILAC 2’-FL for the infant nutrition market.

Singapore-based biotech startup TurtleTree

Backed by Saudi Prince's venture firm, this startup has already attracted global attention in its pre seed round

Every month the team at e27 runs a monthly “startup of the month poll” where we pick the best startup to give it some extra coverage and attention that it deserves. Five startups are selected internally by taking into account idea, team, funding and founders. Three eventually make it to the final round, where we take in votes from our telegram community

The winner for January is none other than Singapore’s biotech startup TurtleTree which uses cell-based technology to create milk without requiring animals.

Reducing carbon footprint

At a time when climate change concern is drawing more and more attention –not just from the public but also the governments and businesses– Turtletree aims to make a difference by reducing carbon footprint from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the dairy sector.

Co-founded in 2019 by Fengru Lin, Rabail Toor and Max Rye, the startup claims to be the “world’s first cell-based milk company that utilises biotechnology to manufacture milk products without any animal needed.”

While the big question remains as to how an industry can balance between reducing its environmental impact and society’s demands for dairy products, the biotech startup aims to make a leap by replicating the full nutritional content of milk using cell-based technology.

The founders also said that they “have been able to replicate the exact full composition of dairy milk,” which erases the concerns of sticking to dairy products due to its high protein content.

As demand for dairy grows, so does its impact on the environment. Even though dairy is not the number one factor for GHG emissions, it unarguably has a significant impact on the environment.

Not limited to simply milk and milk-based products, the company has targeted to apply their methods into recreating human breast milktargeting to disrupt the infant milk formula industry that is currently valued at nearly US$45 billion.

The backers

The startup has already attracted global investors to forward its mission and vision which include KBW Ventures, owned by Saudi Prince  Khaled bin Alwaleed.

Also joining the pre-seed funding round was US-Hong Kong venture capital fund which specialised in protein investments Lever VC, and Silicon Valley-based K2 Global. The amount of investment for this round is undisclosed.

“This is long-term investment; we’re not in this for the quick win,” HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud told Entrepreneur, expressing that “investing in the development of alternative protein sources that use less natural resources by biotech startups is one way to play a role in solving what is truly the most pressing issue of our times: the climate crisis.”

Nick Cooney, founder and managing partner at Lever VC also commented on the startup saying that the technology could be a “serious disrupter in the global dairy industry,”.

“They are the first company in the world producing real, whole milk from cell cultivation — which opens the door for safer, healthier and customised dairy products that can be produced with far fewer natural resources,” he continued. 

The fresh capital will be used by the company to make more hires and create additional fresh prototypes.

As it plans to debut its product in Spring this year, whether the company will radically change how milk is recreated, only time will tell.

In addition to TurtleTree, the e27 community also voted for Lumitics and Gredu as the runner-up for the Startup of the Month title.

Lumitics is a company that tracks the food wasted by Singapore’s F&B outlets and restaurants and Gredu is an edutech startup that enables parents to track their children’s progress.

World’s First Company to Create Milk From Cells

The Singapore-based company, co-founded by CEO Fengru Lin, CSO Rabail Toor, and Chief Strategist Max Rye, says it is the world’s first cell-based milk company using technology to create real milk from animal cells. TurtleTree says on its website that the team “is recreating real milk inside a lab using the latest cutting edge innovation in biotech. Our focus on execution will disrupt this multi-billion dollar industry while reducing the carbon footprint on this planet. Our innovation will provide millions access to safer, reliable and higher quality dairy products.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, founder and Chief Executive Officer, KBW Ventures, said, “KBW Ventures’ interest in TurtleTree stems both from the team vision and the company’s strategic approach to the future of food using stem cell technology. Having spent time with the founding team in Singapore, we have a lot of confidence in TurtleTree’s progress as a biotech company and in the direction they are taking from a business perspective

Contact.

For U.S. Media Inquires:

us.media@turtletreelabs.com

For Asia Inquires:

asia.media@turtletreelabs.com