Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing are among a group of investors with an appetite for food investments.
Impossible Foods, Inc. has raised $108 million in a Series D round led by UBS that was joined by Viking Global Investors, among others. Earlier investors, including Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Mr. Gates also participated, the company said.
Founded in 2011 by Stanford University biochemist Patrick O. Brown, Impossible Foods is creating plant-based foods that it says taste like meat or dairy equivalents but use fewer resources, agriculturally and environmentally speaking, to produce.
In Horizons Ventures, Impossible Foods shares an investor with Modern Meadow, another food startup that also aims to produce meat-equivalent products.
But rather than using plants and biochemistry to develop its products, Modern Meadowuses bioengineering to essentially brew animal cells in the lab to make leathers and steak chips.
“Both companies are trying to bring great food to the world’s table through technology that is much more environmentally friendly and effective in terms of ‘real cost’ to the world,” said Horizons Ventures’s Solina Chau.
But investors see the companies as noncompetitive, namely because the science that they are using to develop and manufacture their products is so distinct.
Horizons Ventures and Khosla Ventures have both invested in Hampton Creek, the makers of Just Mayo and other foods that aim to displace egg-based products with plant-based equivalents.
“If the global population projection of 9.6 billion mouths to feed by 2050 is on the mark, the market will definitely be big enough to embrace the products of Impossible Foods and Modern Meadow,” said Ms. Chau.