New Zealand wine analysis startup Marama Labs has raised €1.75m (A$2.85m) in Seed funding to expand its global footprint.
The round was led by European agritech VC The Yield Lab, supported by New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, Icehouse Ventures, Quidnet Ventures, DeepIE, Radar Ventures, NZVC, and Kiwi angel groups, plus high-net-worth’s from Ireland and Germany.
The capital will be used by Marama Labs to scale up its New Zealand hardware manufacturing on the patented CloudSpec spectroscopy instrumentation and data analytics tools, which can be used in a range of life sciences.
Its platform enables opaque liquid samples, such as fermenting wines and nanomedicines, to be analysed more rapidly than existing technology, so the data can optimise and improve production processes.
Marama Labs was founded in 2019 as a spin-out from Victoria University of Wellington by physicists Dr Brendan Darby, Dr Matthias Meyer and Professor Eric Le Ru when they discovered a fundamentally new way to optically interrogate highly cloudy liquids using light-based sensors.
Dr Darby, the CEO, said they also plan expand their global footprint in the wine industry and launch their first product to the life-sciences market this year. The company also has offices in Dublin, Ireland.
“CloudSpec Insights is designed to give a busy winemaker colour and phenolic data on their wines at all stages of production that is easy to access, understand and act upon,” he explained
“Before CloudSpec, colour and phenolic analysis was time-consuming, expensive, and overly complex. We’ve simplified the process and are seeing our customers gain valuable business insights by using this data in the vineyard, winery and retail market”.
Well-known Kiwi wineries Giesen and Cloudy Bay have used the platform for three years, with US top 10 producers also clients.
Marama Labs is also partnering with third-party testing labs so the technology id available to smaller US wineries, such as the Napa Valley’s ultra-premium producers. via subscriptions to the CloudSpec insights platform.
The startup’s next target vertical of the life-sciences market, where opaque liquids are a major hurdle for drug discovery, process monitoring, quality assurance and new product development. Commercial trials with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers in Europe, the US and Japan are currently underway.
The Yield Lab investment director John Carriga said: “We’ve been really impressed by the Marama Labs team’s progress to date, taking a highly complex technology out of the lab in New Zealand and now gaining significant traction in global markets like winemaking and life sciences. This is a technology and company that we see creating real benefits to the planet’.
Meanwhile, the company has appointed the founder of Cobalt Light Systems, Darren Andrews, as chief product officer.