Australian foodtech start-up PERKii raises $3m to launch probiotic drink technology in the US
University of Queensland start-up to take on global “Better-For-You” beverage market
- Closes $2m investment round from existing shareholders, led by research commercialisation fund Uniseed
- Follow on investment of an additional $1m from Advance Queensland Business Development Fund
- Investment will fund expansion into US$21.8 billion global market
Brisbane, Australia – 21 November 2018 – PERKii Pty Ltd, an Australian start-up using innovative technology to produce the world’s first water and juice encapsulated probiotic drink, has announced the completion of a $3m capital raise led by Australia’s longest running research commercialisation fund, Uniseed.
The funds – secured from Uniseed-managed investors ($1.51m), angel investors and high net worth individuals ($574k), and the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund ($1m) – will drive PERKii’s continued rapid local market expansion and establish production of the Company’s technology in the US, where it will take on a combined ANZ, US and Asia market worth US$21.8 billion.
PERKii launched its low-calorie, no fermentation probiotic drink range to market in mid 2016, supported by the early-stage backing of Uniseed, Brisbane Angels and UniQuest
The PERKii range is now sold in over 2000 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and includes four natural fruit flavours, with each bottle containing 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of the clinically demonstrated Lactobacillus Casei 431® [LC431] probiotic and just 37 calories.
The company recently appointed Manassen Foods Australia as its national distributor, and products are being rolled out in Coles, Woolworths, Caltex, Zambreros and major independent grocery stores in Australia, and Countdown stores in New Zealand.
PERKii is using patent-protected ProGel® encapsulation technology that protects the probiotic in a natural coating to create on-shelf stability and enhance the probiotic’s survival through the acidic stomach environment. The ProGel® technology emerged from University of Queensland research.
Uniseed supported both ProGel® and PERKii through the commercialisation process and has continued to lobby for their local growth and now international expansion.
“PERKii and ProGel® are a really exciting Australian research commercialisation success story,” said Uniseed CEO and PERKii Chairman Peter Devine.
“ProGel® is a ground-breaking, research-led innovation that addresses a clear market need.
“As the popularity of high-sugar, carbonated soft drinks continue to decline, we’re seeing a strong local appetite for “Better-For-You” beverages, such as PERKii’s range, using ProGel® technology. And, of course, consumer demand for high quality probiotic supplements is strong as we learn more about how a healthy gut can positively influence overall health and wellbeing.”
Matthew Kowal, CEO of PERKii, commented further:
“While people are now increasingly aware of the benefits of probiotics, the format and the performance in the digestive tract of existing products have been limited – up until now.
“Using the patented ProGel® technology, PERKii makes probiotics better. We coat the probiotic in natural ingredients to provide protection through the stomach, creating a delicious, low calorie and fermentation-free drink. We’ve chosen a globally-recognised strain of probiotic shown to enhance immune response, digestive health and improve recovery time from cold and flu symptoms. However, the technology can be applied to any probiotic.”
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said that supporting emerging companies through the $80 million Business Development Fund (BDF) underpins the Government’s commitment to growing jobs and strengthen the State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The BDF has a unique and highly successful funding model which stands out from the crowd,” said Ms Trad.
“The Fund has been successful in growing the pool of angel and venture capital funding to support the growth of innovative businesses, which in turn creates high-value jobs and showcases Queensland in Australia and around the world.
“The BDF is a key plank of our $650 million Advance Queensland strategy which supports programs that drive innovation, build on Queensland’s natural advantages, and help to raise our profile as an attractive investment destination.”
PERKii™ is a start-up from the University of Queensland, initially supported by Uniseed and the Brisbane Angels group, that has released the world’s first water and juice drink with 1 billion microencapsulated probiotics and only 37 calories! PERKii offers consumers an option to manage weight, improve gut health and boost immunity with 1 Billion live Lactobacillus casei with proven health benefits in a refreshing, light and great tasting low calorie drink. Derived from the ProGel® technology, also invented at the University of Queensland, this drink protects and improves probiotic stability by encapsulating them in tiny natural beads called Microgels. Microgels keep the probiotics alive in drinks and the acidic stomach resulting in improved delivery of probiotics to the gut. PERKii comes in 3 delicious core flavours, Lime & Coconut, Strawberry & Watermelon and Mango & Passionfruit and a range of seasonal limited-edition flavours. For more information, visit www.perkii.com.au
Uniseed is a successful Australian early stage commercialisation fund that makes investments in research emerging from five of Australia’s leading research organisations – The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne and the CSIRO. The fund represents these five stakeholders to identify and invest in the most promising opportunities within their institutions. Uniseed is a mutual fund, owned by research organisations, for research organisations. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of research partner-generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. For more information, visit www.uniseed.com
About Queensland’s Business Development Fund
Queensland’s $80 million Business Development Fund (BDF) has supported more than 31 Queensland start-ups to help businesses turn their ideas and innovations into commercial realities, supporting new jobs and attracting new industries to Queensland. Investment decisions are made by an independent panel of experienced investors and investments range $125,000 to $2.5 million – which must be at least matched by a private sector co-investor. BDF is overseen by Queensland Investment Corporation’s (QIC) investment professionals in the Global Private Capital team who screen the pipeline and monitor the portfolio companies in the fund.
The BDF is part of which is a comprehensive suite of programs designed to create the knowledge-based jobs of the future, drive productivity improvements and build on Queensland’s natural advantages. For further information on Queensland’s Business Development Fund visit https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/growing-queensland/business-development-fund/
Matthew Kowal, CEO, PERKii
+61 403 789 793
Peter Devine, Chairman, PERKii and CEO, Uniseed
+61 7 409 631 581
+61 416 156 136