Helsinki / FI. (pg) Paulig’s venture arm PINC is investing in the French startup Amatera, an innovative biotech platform for the sustainable cultivation of perennial crops. Amatera’s first solution speeds up the breeding of coffee beans four to five times compared to conventional breeding, without GMOs. Their goal is to create a new coffee variety that combines the rich flavour of Arabica with the robustness and higher yield properties of Robusta. This investment supports Paulig’s aim to develop a food culture that promotes the well-being of people and the planet.
Each year, about a trillion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide, and demand is expected to continue to grow1. Meanwhile, coffee is one of the crops in the world most threatened and affected by climate change. Rising temperatures will reduce the area suitable for growing coffee by up to 50 per cent in 20502 3, in particular affecting areas with high-quality Arabica beans.
The increasing demand for coffee calls for new solutions, with higher resilience to climate change, to ensure that coffee is available and affordable for future generations and that coffee production is economically and environmentally sustainable. This is true for many other crops as well.
«As an investor, we love the disruptive potential and versatility of the platform. Coffee has traditionally not received as much research and innovation as many other crops globally. As coffee is one of Paulig’s core products, we are of course happy that Amatera’s first solution involves coffee and we can see huge interest from our discussions with trading houses and customers. It is still early days, but the team and its partners are world class, and we are very excited to see what they can do», says Marika King, Head of PINC.
Using cells to speed up coffee breeding
Conventional breeding techniques are very long and can last up to 20 years. Amatera speeds up conventional breeding by working on a cell level, accelerating the natural evolution of plants, their selection and hybridisation, none of which include GMOs.
«The technology as such is not new but applying it to perennial crops like coffee is, since they are more complicated and require several breakthroughs in cell biology. This is also why gene-editing techniques are struggling. Our technology is a real game-changer and opens up the avenue to applying it to several other crops, such as cacao, bananas and grapes, or even pharmaceutical plants», says Lucie Kriegshauser, Co-founder and CTO of Amatera.
Rich flavour and caffeine-free beans to meet consumer demands
Amatera’s goal is to create a coffee variety that blends the rich flavour of Arabica with the robustness and higher yield properties of Robusta. The bean is called «Robustica».
In addition to the «Robustica», the team is working on a naturally caffeine-free Arabica bean to satisfy the growing demand of consumers who prefer decaffeinated coffee.
«Our plan is to launch the naturally caffeine-free bean and the new Robustica to the industry within approximately 3–5 years. With this round financing, we both have the funds and a great set of investors who can contribute to our journey. PINC is a perfect match, sharing knowledge of the coffee industry and facilitating connections with interesting trading companies», says Omar Dekkiche, Co-founder and CEO of Amatera.
The round of EUR 1.5 million was led by PINC, with participation from Exceptional Ventures (UK), Mudcake (previous Trellis Road, SWE), Joyance Partners (US), AgFunder (US) and several experienced biotech entrepreneurs, including Nicolas Morin-Forest from Gourmey.