Israeli foodtech startup Maolac, which harnesses the benefits found in breast milk to create superfood, by extracting the same proteins from bovine colostrum or plant-based analogs, raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round led by investment platform OurCrowd and with the participation of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub founded by the Strauss Group, The Food Tech Lab, VentureIsrael, NEOME, and Mediterranean Towers Ventures.
Maolac was founded in 2018 by biomedical engineer Maya Ashkenazi-Otmazgin, immunity expert Dr. Ariel Orbach, and Mr. Eli Lerner. Maya was nursing her first child when a moment of inspiration hit her – a vision of harnessing the health benefits of breast milk to create a superfood, which would be available to everyone, including adults, athletes, the elderly, and even pets.
Using computational biology, Maolac is the first company in the world to identify and extract functional proteins from bovine colostrum. Maolac is also the first organization in the world to create functional milk proteins from bovine colostrum, a nutrient-rich milky fluid that comes from the udder of cows in the first few days after giving birth, and are 95% equivalent to those found in human breast milk.
Bovine colostrum is currently dumped in drains at dairies the world over to the tune of more than five billion liters a year. The Israeli startup takes this waste and creates a formulated mixture to strengthen immune systems and help maintain a balanced digestive system.
Maolac will use the seed funding to build a state-of-the-art facility that will feature small-scale production capabilities. The facility will also be able to create analytics and samples for customers and clinical trials. The startup is in advanced discussions on joint development agreements with several leading Israeli companies in the food and supplements markets. It is also in talks with several of the world’s leading dairy protein producers and global dairy, ingredient, and supplement companies.
The first Maolac product line consists of a highly potent anti-inflammatory product for humans. Initially, this will target athletes to help reduce muscle strain and improve recovery time. The product line will also target the elderly, to support active living and improved mobility. It will form the basis for the next generation of gut health solutions for humans and pets to help prevent severe cases of gut inflammation.
Maolac’s technology relies on a bio-convergence platform for the discovery of proteins, based on proprietary machine learning and natural language processing search algorithms. Maolac has identified more than 1,500 known bio-active proteins in human breast milk. It discovered that bovine colostrum has over 400 homolog proteins with more than a 95% bio-similarity to human breast milk, which can be extracted. Maolac creates thousands of high-impact human functional milk protein mixtures, tailor-made for various immune-boosting applications.
Unlike other functional ingredients, Maolac’s active ingredients work like breast milk to directly target specific body functions. The ingredients travel through the bloodstream or the gut, resulting in higher overall efficacy at lower dosages, making its products cost effective to produce.
Maya Ashkenazi-Otmazgin, CEO and co-founder of Maolac, noted, “The new investment will help Maolac disrupt the global immune-boosting market. The facility we’ll be able to build will help introduce our human functional milk proteins into new segments and enable the product to target a variety of food products for daily consumption.”
OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said, “The idea of transforming the first, nutrient-rich milk of cows that have just given birth into a source for human protein is a stroke of pure genius. Billions of liters of bovine colostrum are discarded each year. Maolac takes this waste and creates a product of huge potential benefit to millions at a time when the world is desperately searching for new sustainable sources of protein. The company is a perfect example of the circular economy in action.”