Image Left to Right: James Dunce, Natalija Stepurko, Federica Pesce

BraveleyCultured, a bio-tech company that is looking to use marine micro-organisms mainly in the foodtech sector, is the latest to take laboratory desk space at The EpiCentre in Haverhill.

The company founded at the end of 2022 goes on bio-prospecting trips all around the UK to collect seaweed and other types of sediment to analyse them back at The EpiCentre to identify how they can be applied within the bio-manufacturing industry.

Chief Operating Officer Federica Pesce says: “At BravelyCultured we are harnessing the untapped potential of the earth’s ocean to develop innovative solutions for the bioeconomy. Currently, only 0.001% of marine microorganisms are known to science. The BravelyCultured team aims to expand the biomanufacturing toolkit by collating the vast biodiversity of the earth’s ocean into a platform to improve existing, and develop new novel solutions, for the bio-manufacturing industry, starting with food.

“Traditional methods to produce food ingredients by fermentation are expensive and increasingly unsustainable. By using new ocean micro-organisms that can grow on waste streams and renewable feedstock, we are contributing to a future of food production which is cheaper and more sustainable. BravelyCultured is in conversation with a number of potential customers including an Indian company that is producing animal-free Omega 3s and has expressed strong interest in screening BravelyCultured’s microbial library and     co-developing a nutritious alternative fish fillet.

Andrew Bell, Centre Manager at The EpiCentre, says: “We are delighted that BravelyCultured has decided to make its home at The EpiCentre. We now have a very broad range of biotech and life science companies occupying our laboratory space. Our offer that appeals to young start-up companies is more price competitive than the equivalent space in Cambridge, yet still within the Cambridge orbit, and provides flexible occupational terms with business support provided by Oxford Innovation Space, the management company running The EpiCentre.”

Pesce, says: “After receiving funding from the Carbon13 venture builder programme we were looking for laboratory space around Cambridge but having found out about the EpiCentre, we thought it was a great opportunity to be at a place where we could get good value for money, where start-ups are really supported, and is a great place to start our research. What was important was not only the lab space but the co-working space where the team can meet together and not all the spaces in Cambridge have this combination of lab and co-working space,” adds Pesce.

The founding trio comprises a young, diverse and female-led organisation. Natalija Stepurko, BravelyCultured’s CEO, combines her PhD in Biochemistry from Cambridge University with her entrepreneurial skills acquired from courses at the Judge Business School. The CSO, James Dunce, has a PhD in Biochemistry and post-doctorate from Cambridge University, and has eight years of protein engineering expertise. While COO Federica Pesce, has over 10 years’ experience in sustainable development having worked for the European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme on climate action, biodiversity conservation and sustainable food systems.  They have recently taken on a microbiology scientist Priyanka Pothen, who is leading the research funded through an Innovate UK Transformative Technologies grant.

BravelyCultured has just applied for a Innovate UK grant. It is also fund-raising for pre-seed funding and is looking to fundraise £500k, so it can scale up more quickly. It recently won the BAITE Innovation Award Contest at the innovation festival NanoValbruna and is also shortlisted as a Sustainability Award Finalist for the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards 2023.