Pow.Bio Closes $9.5M Series A

October 4, 2023
6 min read
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Congratulations to Co-Founders Shannon Hall and Ouwei Wang, along with the entire Pow.Bio team, for closing a $9.5M Series A! Read more about Pow.Bios's technology on their website: pow.bio.

"It's always hard to balance science and business, and this is where I've seen Shannon and Ouwei's dynamic shine. They are strong counterbalances to each other, a yin to the other's yang, where Ouwei has relentlessly pushed Pow's continuous technology ahead, and Shannon's north star has been around accelerating commercialization efforts. The team's camaraderie is palpable, and was well-earned through navigating the challenging road to product-market fit. It's incredibly exciting to be at the scale-up stage of the business. As a first investor, I'm honored to have the opportunity to continue supporting Pow in the journey ahead in launching more bioproducts into market at increasing scales, constantly improving unit economics, and massively reduced timelines."

Kira Noodleman - Partner, Bee Partners

You can read the TechCrunch exclusive by Christine Hall here.

From Pow.Bio's Announcement on Business Wire:

Pow.Bio’s goal is to unlock the economic viability of sustainable biomade products by significantly driving down the high costs associated with biomanufacturing. The simple fact is that synthetic biology companies today are unable to manufacture products at a price that can displace unsustainable petrochemical or animal derived alternatives. The market impact of these biomade products is estimated to reach $4T by 2040. But until we are able to produce biomaterials at (or below) cost parity to their commodity counterparts, only the most expensive biomade products will ever be commercially viable - limiting the sustainable impact of such a promising technology.

Pow.Bio’s CTO and founder, Ouwei Wang, describes their continuous fermentation technology as solving the historical challenges that have made what some call this ‘holy grail’ of biomanufacturing so elusive. “By running a fermentation process more like an assembly line,” says Wang, “we see multi-fold increases in productivity without contamination or drift.”

Integrated within the Pow.Bio system is an intelligent AI-controlled software known as SOFe, that  accelerates process optimization and will drive autonomous operation. The one-two punch of its advanced hardware and intelligent software drives 5x gains in productivity for a fraction of the capital expense of traditional systems. Prospective clients don’t have to wait and can begin working with Pow.Bio today.

Pow.Bio is excited to announce the construction of an advanced demonstration facility in Alameda, California, designed to provide partner companies unfettered access to this novel platform. 

The Alameda site is engineered for the seamless transition from gram-scale experimentation to the production of hundreds of kilograms of finished products. This facility will not only showcase the potential of Pow.Bio’s platform but also serve as a blueprint for commercial-scale deployment of the platform for the production of a wide range of biology-based products.

The myth of more capacity

Many in this space blame the challenge of cost effective manufacturing on a lack of commercial scale fermentation capacity. The truth is that capacity alone cannot fix the core problem of lowering unit costs. Building more of the same large scale bioreactors won’t solve this problem.

“When we hear people talking about the ‘capacity problem,’ we wonder if we’re the only ones who see that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes,” explains Pow.Bio’s CEO and cofounder, Shannon Hall. “Focusing on building capacity without addressing unit economics will expose the industry to more frustration about not delivering on its promises,” says Hall, “the right target is economic viability, and hitting it requires technical advances in biomanufacturing.” 

For Pow.Bio’s partners, this new technology is game-changing. For those with products already in the market, significantly reducing manufacturing costs with Pow.Bio’s technology can have a huge impact on their bottom line. While for those that need to hit a lower price point in order to even launch a new product, Pow.Bio’s platform might be the only way to do it. 

“By building a technology that is inherently much lighter in its capital demand and therefore much lighter in its operational demand,” explains Hall, “we achieve two really valuable goals: we can build more capacity at a fraction of the cost, and that capacity can perform its job better by making products at a lower price - and at a lower, price, a wider array of products can actually get to market.”

Shannon's Vision: A Future with Continuous Fermentation

Q: What Is Your Superpower?

A: My superpower is that I see through walls. I am literally undeterred by any challenge. I know that if we face a problem, we can generate a solution to get around it. I'm not limited by what I've seen before, but it sure helps that I've seen a lot of things before, and I know there's another way to get that done.

Q: How Do You Go About Understanding Your Customer?

A: What it means to us when we think about understanding our customer is that we fully grasp their goal. What are they trying to achieve? For example, when we started, our first customer's primary goal was to make enough material to do a study that would get them the clearance from the FDA to make that into a food product. So they knew they needed to get there, and we could align our goals with their goals and then work our way towards that outcome, which we're super happy about.

Unlike other partners who might've been like, well, we did what we could do–you're on your own. We both were absolutely aligned on goals. Now, I think we've really evolved our thinking around that to say that we're not only partners or service providers; we are, in fact, the trusted leader. We can show them how to get to a future with a faster product development cycle or better economics–I am super excited about bringing that to our partners and customers to help them win much faster.

Q: Why Does Biomanufacturing Require Innovation?

A: When it comes to biomanufacturing and, in fact, in finding more capacity, the central question is how much capacity do we need? How much do we have? What will it cost to build? One estimate of the amount of capital-intensive biocapacity we would need is a hundred million liters, a hundred times more than we have today. And when people price that out, the price tag for alternative protein use alone was thirty billion. You don't have to be an expert to know that won't fly. There is no way anyone will invest thirty billion in something unless we have another pandemic. There is just no need for that kind of investment.

Q: Where Does Pow.bio Come In?

What we have to say is if the current truth is an overall lack of capacity and that truth isn't good enough, we need better technical solutions. One of the most compelling reasons that people are excited about Pow, the reason I'm excited about Pow, is that we're using technology to solve the core problem. By building a technology that's inherently much lighter in its capital demand and, therefore, much lighter in its operational demand, we achieve two really valuable goals.

We can build more capacity for a fraction of that cost, and that capacity can perform its job in making products for a much lower price and at a lower price, and those products go to market effectively, and that changes the game in terms of success rates in synthetic biology.

Shannon and her Co-Founder Ouwei came through our third fund, and since the investment, the team has continued to grow its service and personnel. Click here to learn more about Shannon and Pow.bio or here if you are a Founder innovating in any of our three vectors.

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