US biotech company Debut has raised USD 34 million in Series B a funding round led by BOLD, L’Oréal’s corporate venture capital fund. Additional participating investors include Fine Structure Ventures, Material Impact, GS Futures, Cavallo Ventures, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, ACVC Partners, and others.

Cell-free model

The minority investment builds on existing joint development programs between L’Oréal and Debut that leverage the start-up’s extensive IP portfolio, from which more than 7,000 ingredients can be created in order to bring high-value, more sustainable ingredients to market faster.

San Diego, California-based Debut specializes in the end-to-end discovery, formulation, clinical trial, and manufacture of novel ingredients and products. Their cell-free advanced biomanufacturing platform bypasses the limitations of traditional fermentation and takes direct control of biological processes to produce complex natural products, such as polyphenols, biopolymers, and natural colors, prized for their high-performance, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties.

According to L’Oréal, this type of synthetic biology significantly reduces complexity and increases the quantity of products that can be achieved. Using the platform, new ingredients can be delivered in as few as six weeks, from discovery to pre- production, for use in a host of higher performing, more sustainably made beauty products, from moisturizers to serums to hair care.

The investment will enable Debut to rapidly scale its manufacturing platform and develop a wide variety of novel ingredients and beauty and personal care products using its proprietary cell-free and biotechnology model.

Debut addresses one of the beauty world’s fundamental challenges: driving innovation without the resource-intensity and environmental impact that comes with relying on traditional manufacturing alone,” said Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology, at L’Oréal. “Cell-free biomanufacturing is not science fiction: it is here. We could not be more excited to be the first beauty company to invest into this technology with Debut. We are delighted of our partnership with Debut to create together stand-out active beauty innovations while protecting the planet’s resources.

Both natural and lab-made

Debut’s portfolio of ingredients are both natural and lab-made, comprising the best of both worlds and protecting the environment from resource extraction. Debut’s inputs into the biomanufacturing process are found in nature. The enzymes used to catalyze the transformation to high-value natural products are also found in nature.

"We are absolutely delighted to have L’Oréal as an investor at a time when advanced sciences are needed to thoroughly re-imagine how beauty ingredients are made, to address the challenges of cost, quality, scalability and sustainability head-on,” said Joshua Britton, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Debut. “Debut’s ambition is to turn the active ingredient manufacturing process on its head, and in doing so, help industry leaders like L’Oréal maintain its innovative edge and desirability, fulfilling its responsibility to both the planet and consumers.