Healthycell scores US$1.57M to boost pill alternative Microgel technology
15 Sep 2021 --- US-based Healthycell has landed US$1.57 million in bridge round funding, led by Keen Growth Capital and with participation from the Balanced Breakfast Fund. The investments will be used to expand its Microgel line of supplements, build-out consumer test kit offerings and complete clinical studies.
Healthycell’s patent-pending technology Microgel is a pill alternative delivery format designed for the many consumers who face trouble taking pills.
Speaking to NutritionInsight, Healthcell’s CEO Dougla Giampapa explains that the funding follows the company’s “triumph” over supply chain and COVID-19 related challenges.
“The hurdles we have faced this year were supply chain-related. We dealt with the challenges of COVID-19 supply chain issues from Q1 through Q3, storms in Central Texas delaying production, and even a fire in one of our production facilities,” he says.
“Given three disasters in one year, we have made plans to extend our lead times while identifying secondary production partners.”
Microgel works by releasing extremely small, ultra-bioavailable, soluble nutrient particles in the digestive tract. It is developed by dissolving fat-soluble nutrients in natural oil or water-soluble nutrients in water. Emulsifiers are added, and micelles form, encapsulating the nutrients for absorption.
Giampapa describes the potential of the technology as “massive,” saying that if the company can improve the nutrient intake of people who have suboptimal diets and difficulty swallowing pills, it will equate to a large portion of the population.
“The gel we make can be used in other applications too, like beverages and beverage dispensing systems, allowing us to penetrate the masses quicker,” Giampapa continues.
He also hopes the company will be able to get some form of state sponsorship. “If we could get reimbursement for our products as part of a preventive health program, that would accelerate public benefit.”
The investment comes amid rapid company growth. Healthycell was among the 7% of applicants selected to join the competitive accelerator program Newchip, which provides guidance and support through their funding process.
Healthycell also recently accomplished several key milestones, including over 1,000 new customers per month, achieving industry-high retention rates and completing its prototypes for direct-to-consumer test kits, says Giampapa.
“We plan to raise up to US$1.07 million more via a crowd equity campaign that should launch late this month or early next month,” he continues.
“With the proceeds from the recent venture-backed round plus the crowd equity round, we believe we can grow enough to raise a US$10M series A without too much dilution. We are seeing over 1,200 new customers per month right now,” Giampapa concludes.
Last year, KeHe partnered with Healthycell to spread Microgel in the US market.
Microgel joins a host of innovations catering to the 40% of US consumers who struggle to take pills. This year, Fonterra’s global business unit director of sports and lifestyle nutrition, Komal Mistry-Mehta told NutritionInsight how Fonterra is advancing new formulations of pill alternatives without compromising safety or efficacy.
A range of gummy supplements also hit the market in 2020, including US-based Favour releasing a functional chewing gum powered by higher-bioavailable cannabidiol (CBD); wellness company Social CBD launching a line of CBD broad-spectrum gummies; and HumanN launching SuperGrapes Chews with grape seed extract for blood pressure and energy support.
The slew of NPD came as the Council for Responsible Nutrition reported supplements usage in the US peaking at an “all-time high,” with 77% of US adults reporting they consumed dietary supplements in 2019.
A study last year also found that sprays are just as effective for delivering vitamin D supplements as pills.
By Louis Gore-Langton
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