Investing in early-stage companies that develop food products made with alternative proteins is proving fruitful for Lever VC.
The firm, which invests worldwide, said last week that it has raised $46 million for its inaugural fund, which remains open and has recently added three corporate strategic backers from Europe and Asia as LPs.
In addition, Lever VC portfolio has grown in value after the first seven quarters by 2.33x, based on valuations at the most recent funding rounds.
In previous conversations with Venture Capital Journal, managing partner Nick Cooney said the fund target is $50 million. Last week, he said he expects the firm to hold a final close by the end of June.
In addition to the new corporate backers, Cooney said that LPs include players from the NBA and NFL as well as British nobility and alternative protein industry veterans.
“One of the things that we’re seeing is that about half of the LPs in the fund a rein it for financial return,” Cooney told VCJ last year. “But some LPs are doing direct deals and looking for acquisition targets, so they are investing to gain access to the space.”
Companies in the firm’s portfolio include cell-cultured diary producer TurtleTree Labs; cell-cultured animal fat developer Mission Barns; Chines cultivated meat company Avant; plant protein company Mozza; and cell-cultured seafood maker Bluu in Europe.
The firm, which looks to invest in seven to 10 companies a year, commits worldwide and has team members in the US, UK, France, Netherlands, Israel, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China.
The vehicle’s partners had previously invested in leading alternative protein companies including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, JUST, Memphis Meats, Mosa Meats, Aleph Farms and others. The Lever VC Fund will continue to invest in early-stage alternative protein companies, and remains open to additional investors until concluding its final close.
Cooney co-founded the firm with Lawrence Chu. Prior to Lever VC, they’ve invested in such brand name meat alternatives as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, JUST, Memphis Meats, Mosa Meats and Aleph Farms, among others.
A vegan himself, Cooney said he has been eating various alternative meat for more than 20 years, and he noted that the products have improved in quality and with their marketing to reach potentially more consumers.
He said he and Chu launched the firm after watching the success of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
“For me, the belief in these types of products have been the driving motivation in launching Lever VC,” Cooney said.