Clear Labs, a genomic data platform hoping to stop E-coli outbreaks in your favorite burrito chain before they start, has pulled in $13 million in Series B funding to build a next-generation sequencing-based (NGS) microbiome test and grow the business.
It’s often hard for food manufacturers to know the origins of an infected batch before it goes out to the public. However, Clear Labs applies similar technology used in human clinical trials, but for food products, to find these bad batches. And it’s working with some of the world’s largest brands to test for ingredient accuracy, origin, GMOs, bacterial contamination and allergens — as well as nutritional data and off-label additives.
The funding comes from Wing VC — which led the round — as well as Google Ventures, Tencent, Khosla Ventures and Felicis Ventures, and comes at a time when the startup is ready to enter what it calls an “aggressive” commercialization stage in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Former FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine Michael R. Taylor has also joined the Clear Labs board. Taylor led the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, a sweeping regulation meant to prevent unsafe foods from entering the supply chain; his post may help boost the startup’s government relations and status within the food safety industry.
Clear Labs says the new cash will be applied to hiring, accelerating the licensing of its technology to third-party laboratories and to developing its portfolio of tests — including, as mentioned, microbiome testing and whole genome sequencing for assessing possible pathogens in our food, as well as building on its GMO testing.
The Non-GMO Project also verifies if foods do or do not contain GMOs. There are other resources that monitor food contamination such as FoodSafety.gov. However, a lot of the “non-GMO” certification testing is based on on-site inspections and documentation reviews. Clear Labs believes it can offer something more here with molecular checks.
“The food industry is hungry for a more scalable and sustainable method to monitor and secure their complex supply chains,” Clear Labs co-founder Mahni Ghorashi said. “Our new round of funding and the addition of Mike to our Board of Directors will realize NGS as the industry standard of food safety testing technology around the world.”
Clear Labs previously raised $6.5 million in Series A funding, giving it a total of $19.5 million in the bank so far.