zaara biotech: KSUM-backed biotech startup secures investment from US company

New Delhi: Biotechnology startup Zaara Biotech, fostered under the Kerala Startup Mission’s (KSUM) flagship Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IEDC) scheme, has scooped up an undisclosed amount of investment from US-based Transcend International to set up the startup’s algal seaweed technology facility in the US. Zaara Biotech will use the amount for setting up a manufacturing facility for food and beverages under the brand name ‘B-lite’, an algal seaweed culturing facility, and a research centre for photobioreactors in the US.

In 2021, Zaara Biotech secured $10 million investment from UAE-based TCN International Commerce for the same technology, a statement said here on Saturday.

Currently, Zaara is working in the UAE for setting up the manufacturing facility for FMCG products.

Lauding the startup’s achievement, KSUM CEO John M Thomas said Zaara Biotech’s growth is a testimony to the vibrancy of IEDCs on campuses in nurturing entrepreneurial skills among students.

“IEDCs help aspiring entrepreneurs get ample exposure and technology skills, besides promoting an environment to set up ventures by developing innovative products of social relevance. Zaara’s achievement will certainly be an inspiration for the fledgling startups at IEDCs,” he added.

Zaara Biotech Founder and CEO Najeeb Bin Haneef said the complete operations in production and R&D will be done by his company while the other operations will be handled by team Transcend under the incorporated name — Zaara Biotech International.

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Haneef said all activities of Zaara Biotech USA will be constrained to the US only, as globally Zaara Biotech India acts as a parenting company.

Zaara Biotech connects different partners in various locations to expand the business to hit the current FMCG market with algal seaweed products, he added.

The startup has also manufactured India’s first algal seaweed cookies, including high protein algal Spirulina cookies.

Founded in 2016 on the campus of Sahrdaya College of Engineering and Technology, Kodakara in Thrissur, the startup grew through the IEDC programme of KSUM, besides getting exposure to the GITEX 2019 held at the World Trade Centre, Dubai.

KSUM has a network of around 320 mini-incubators called IEDCs on campuses to promote technological entrepreneurship among students.

Launched in 2014, IEDC aims at promoting innovation and entrepreneurial culture in educational institutions and developing institutional mechanisms to foster techno-entrepreneurs.

KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

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Christin Hakim

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