Chinova Bioworks secures seed financing to bring 'consistent and effective' anti-microbial chitosan to market

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Zakharova_Natalia
© Getty Images / Zakharova_Natalia
New Brunswick-based Chinova Bioworks has secured financing led by DSM Venturing and Rhapsody Venture Partners to accelerate development of its clean label mushroom-based natural preservative for food and beverages.

The seed funding round, which also included AgFunder and Natural Products Canada, will help the company build its team, scale up production and manufacturing, and accelerate the commercialization of the product into the market.

“Consumers are demanding natural ingredients in their foods and beverages. Chinova provides the first entirely natural preservative that is both highly effective and broad-spectrum. We are fortunate to already have customers ready to launch and a large and rapidly expanding sales pipeline. With our product now validated with leading food companies, we will use this investment to quickly scale our production to meet demand,” ​said CEO Natasha Dhayagude.

“In just two years, Chinova has developed a unique and innovative preservation technology using mushroom-based chitosan that can be customized to fit the needs of food and beverage producers’ individual microbial issues. Our product fits the standards of the clean label that consumers want and that producers need.”

Regulatory approval

The company plans to have a product ready with regulatory approval (self-affirmed GRAS) by the fall for small and medium-sized companies, Dhayagude told FoodNavigator-USA. Chinova will also submit a GRAS notification to the US Food and Drug Administration with the goal of a full product launch in 2019.

Chitosan (pronounced kito-san) can be extracted from shellfish, but the demand in the market is for non-animal based ingredients, and extracting from shellfish could also create allergen issues, explained Dhayagude. By focusing on mushrooms, the company’s proprietary technology can ensure consistent and effective anti-microbials for the food and beverage industries.

Chinova’s chitosan reportedly has the molecular characteristics to be at least as effective as traditional synthetic preservatives, while maintaining its status as a completely natural product.

“Most food and beverage producers have heard about chitosan but they have given up on it because of inconsistent efficacy,” ​said Dhayagude. “Our process ensures consistency.”

The company can produce both a broad spectrum ingredient, effective against bacteria, yeast, and mold, or they can work with manufacturers to produce a customized formulation, she said.  

The startup has already validated the product with several leading food companies. “These clients are really looking for customized preservative solutions that have no organoleptic impact on their food and beverage products which is what Chinova offers,” ​said Dhayagude.

Investor interest

“Chinova has discovered a unique solution to create a clean label, natural preservative that meets the demands of industry and consumers,”​ said Shelley King, CEO of Natural Products Canada, which fosters Canadian natural product companies through advice, introductions, and investment.

AgFunder’s CIO Michael Dean added: “Chinova is one of a new breed of companies such as MycoWorks, Terramino Foods, and MycoTechnology that are unlocking the enormous potential of mycelium. 

“While the food and beverage industries are Chinova’s initial focus, their proprietary technology to fractionate chitosan molecules to produce a customized, highly effective and natural anti-microbial product provides them with numerous multi-sector applications, which is incredibly exciting”.

Chinova was founded in April 2016 by Natasha Dhayagude and COO David Brown, and received a pre-seed investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, SOSV, and the First Angel Network.


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