Here’s the pitch: why not package food and drinks more closely to the way that nature does, with an edible shell. That’s the idea behind startup WikiCell Designs, which on Tuesday announced that it has raised a $10 million first round of financing from Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners.
The idea was created in 2009 by Harvard Professor David Edwards, and the company has been working on developing foods like ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, soup, and even beverages, that have an edible, hard casing. Picture buying balls of yogurt at the store that have a hard granola crusted shell. Could be delicious, or a bit weird.
While the edible casings might sound like a niche, hippie product, if the technology ever became popular it could make a dent in reducing plastic and paper packing for food and drinks. Bioplastic companies — which turn corn, or plant waste into renewable plastics — are going after the same replacement packaging market, but without the edible angle.
That these two well-known VC firms are putting up a $10 million series A round, is an indicator that the technology could have a pretty large market. It would probably end up being licensed to packaging and food companies. WikiCell Designs plans to commercialize its products in 2013 and also announced on Tuesday that it has tapped co-founder Robert Connelly as its new CEO.
Edwards runs something called ArtScience Labs, which is an idea shop that is trying to innovate around science and design. Another of Edward’s ideas is Aeroshot Energy, which is a powdered energy drink shot.