Time-travelling Milkman (TTM), a spin-off of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and StartLife alumnus, develops creamy, healthy and sustainable fat ingredients for improving the texture and acceptability of dairy alternatives. With its technology, TTM extracts fat droplets from seeds (e.g. sunflower) to make creamy unsaturated fat ingredients. With an investment of €555.000 by Oost NL and SHIFT Invest, the company will scale-up production and accelerate its market entry.
“We use European seeds, water and our proprietary processing technology to produce ingredients that add an irresistible mouthfeel in dairy alternatives”, says Dimitris Karefyllakis, CEO and co-founder of Time-travelling Milkman (TTM). “Creaminess comes from fat, not protein. Alternative protein sources are abundant, but the importance of the fat element has been overlooked. Without this, there will be no protein transition”.
“Without fat, there will be no protein transition.” ~ Dimitris Karefyllakis
“The fat ingredient alternatives that are currently used either do not give the required consistency, creating mushy unappealing structures or, like palm and coconut oil, are unhealthy (saturated fats) and unsustainable as they come from the tropics. Inside plant seeds, fats are organized in naturally occurring fat droplets covered by proteins, called Oleosomes, which have a high potential as milk fat equivalents,” says Dimitris.
Next generation B2B fat ingredient provider
Dimitris believes that, based on TTM’s heritage as a WUR spin-off, they know how to give Oleosomes the right twist and format. Prof. Dr. Ir. Remko Boom, Food Process Engineering at WUR, says, “We have discovered that if we can keep the natural structure intact, we can make better ingredients. We can also do this without the need for traditional solvents, but simply by using water. It’s great that TTM is now able to put this into practice. I hope that this will usher in a new phase where we can move towards more sustainable production of our food.”
“We are well positioned to become a dominant B2B fat ingredient provider. Our next step is to scale up and optimize our production at an industrial scale, for which we attracted partners Oost NL and SHIFT Invest who will support us in our journey with their knowledge, network and capital,” says Dimitris.
Accelerating protein transition
Carl Heijne, senior investment manager Food at Oost NL: “The protein transition is a major challenge of our time. A more plant-based diet causes less damage to the environment and is healthier. But existing plant-based dairy alternatives still have many disadvantages. TTM has an innovative solution on its hands. Fat from seeds is much more sustainable. We are proud that as Oost NL we can help accelerate the market introduction.” Oost NL invests from the Innovation Fund ION+, an innovation fund for SMEs in Gelderland.
Bram Ledeboer, partner at SHIFT Invest: “We are proud to announce our investment in Time-travelling Milkman accelerate the protein transition today and into the future”. This funding was provided via our proof of concept fund within the Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme, which is built around a partnership with the four Dutch technical universities , TNO and RVO. The main focus of TTT is to support early-stage companies that are emerging from scientific research and development into startups with the potential to disrupt the industry.
Support by Food Valley ecosystem
TTM receives wide support from the agrifood ecoysteem in the Food valley. In Spring 2020, TTM took part in StartLife’s acceleration program. The company is now part of StartLife’s active startup alumni portfolio. TTM also received support from The Growth Accelerator program (De Groeiversneller) and is member of the The Protein Cluster (TPC), a cluster of companies that focus on protein transition. The investment by ION+ is in line with the goals of the province of Gelderland to promote innovations in the protein transition.