Cultivian Sandbox invests $2m into AbCelex

The venture capital fund's investment represents the first institutional round of fundraising for AbCelex, which is working on a replacement to antibiotics for meat animals.

Cultivian Sandbox, the 10-year agriculture and food technology venture capital fund, has invested $2 million into AbCelex, the Canadian animal feed technology firm. The deal represents AbCelex’s first institutional round of fundraising.

AbCelex is developing ways to fight disease and contamination in animal feed without using antibiotics. Antibiotics have been banned in Europe for use as a growth-promoter since 2006 as fears about humans developing a resistance to them grow.  The US is also starting to move in the same direction.

But since the ban, several European chicken farms have been unable to produce contaminate-free chickens and “the industry is very hungry for a replacement,” Ron Meeusen, managing partner of Cultivian Sandbox told Agri Investor.

The $2 million investment will go towards larger commercial trials of AbCelex’s alternative to antibiotics. It will also allow them to scale up manufacturing and begin the regulatory process. The firm is likely to need more capital after this but Meeusen is not worried about raising more capital.

The May 2013 fund, with a five-year investment period and five-year harvest period, is currently on $90 million. The portfolio’s other two investments are enEvolv, a genome engineering company, and Sample 6, the food safety testing product developer.

Cultivian Sandbox is a partnership between Cultivian Ventures and Sandbox Industries, both US venture firms in the sector.