Pioneering US tech to cut methane from cows gets Kiwi funding boost

Media Release | 8 September 2023

Hoofprint Biome co-founders: Dr Kathryn Polkoff and Dr Scott Collins

AgriZeroNZ is the lead investor in a US start-up developing probiotics and natural enzymes that reduces methane while improving cow health.

The JV has invested $4.1 million (NZD) into Hoofprint Biome, in Raleigh, North Carolina, in its pre-seed funding round (total USD$3.75M) to support development of its probiotic into animal trial proof-of-concept stage.

Good Growth Capital and Ponderosa Ventures (member of Galvanize Climate Solutions) have also invested in the round.

Wayne McNee executive director of AgriZeroNZ, says the investment allows the JV to be involved from an early stage and drive development towards a solution for New Zealand farmers.

“Hoofprint is developing novel technology with potential to be a real breakthrough to help meet our country’s climate goals. We’re really pleased to be backing Hoofprint as the lead investor, and secure this opportunity for New Zealand farmers so they can be at the forefront of its future success,” Wayne McNee said.

Wayne McNee

Hoofprint Biome, a spin-out of NC State University, was founded by Dr. Kathryn Polkoff and Dr. Scott Collins. As two biotech entrepreneurs with backgrounds in animal agriculture, they saw the unique potential for microbiome engineering to benefit ruminant agriculture and tackle the climate crisis.

The pair had discovered enzymes that naturally reduce rumen methane emissions, and delivery of these patent-pending enzymes with probiotics will result in long-lasting efficacy.

Ingested as a supplement in a small dose, the Hoofprint probiotic aims to reduce enteric methane emissions by over 80 per cent while simultaneously increasing milk and meat yield by over 5 per cent.

Dr Polkoff, co-founder and CEO, said they are excited to develop the solution for Kiwi farmers.

“We’re bringing next-gen probiotics to ruminant agriculture in our mission to cut methane emissions while improving animal health and profitability. This investment offers a unique opportunity for Hoofprint to partner with New Zealand farmers, who have been leaders in sustainable agriculture, and to tackle the climate crisis together,” Dr Polkoff said.

AgriZeroNZ was established in February to accelerate the development of tools and technology to help farmers rapidly reduce their emissions, while maintaining farm productivity and profitability, to support New Zealand’s climate goals and meet increasing demands from global customers.

“New Zealand farmers are the most efficient in the world but the importance of reducing agricultural emissions cannot be understated and technology like this needs to be part of the solution,” McNee said.

We’re looking all over the world for opportunities that will work on New Zealand farms, we’re moving fast to reflect the mandate for urgent action from our shareholders, and we’re taking calculated risks to significantly accelerate efforts made by Kiwi farmers to date.

Wayne McNee, AgriZeroNZ

McNee says the investment aligns with the JV’s ambition to ensure all farmers in Aotearoa have equitable access to affordable, effective solutions to reduce emissions, with a goal of supporting a 30% reduction by 2030 and enabling development and adoption of solutions to drive towards ‘near zero’ by 2040.

“Farmers will need at least two or three proven tools and technologies in widespread use by 2030 to meet this goal so that’s what we’re working to deliver.

“We’ve been tasked with making some bold investment decisions to support the continued success of New Zealand agriculture. The Hoofprint probiotic is in early stages but if development continues to progress we look forward to supporting it through New Zealand’s regulatory process and getting it into farmers’ hands,” he said.

This is AgriZeroNZ’s fourth investment since being established in February. The JV continues to welcome interest from potential new shareholders and strategic partners, to extend the reach of the JV and grow the fund.

AgriZeroNZ expects to confirm further investments soon.