Palm oil alternative startup C16 Biosciences raises $20 million

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based “bio-manufacturing” process for “brewing palm oil like beer.”

C16 Biosciences at Demo Day YC S18

C16 Biosciences is aiming to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe with their lab-grown palm oil, an alternative to a product that is found in a truly massive amount of goods. C16’s alternative is grown in bioreactors and is 20 percent less expensive to customers but “doesn’t destroy the planet,” the company says.

The startup has already begun early partnerships with a number of beauty and food distributors that together spend $1.2 billion on palm oil annually.