How this Biotechnologist and ex-McKinsey Analyst are navigating new waters to bring biomass-fermented seafood to the masses  

Global demand for seafood is forecast to double by 2050.

And without viable alternatives this will drive a material increase in the harms caused by the seafood industry. 

Despite the significant environmental harm caused by the seafood industry (as well as the suffering to sea life),  Zac Austin and Washington Logroño saw alternative seafood as a fairly neglected part of the alternative protein industry. 

So they teamed up to found Pacifico Biolabs to significantly impact environmental challenges through the application of science. 

Since pitching at the HackSummit in last year’s competition they’ve come out of stealth and raised $3.3 million in pre-seed funding, co-led by Simon Capital and FoodLabs and including Exceptional Ventures and Sprout & About Ventures.

Take part in the FoodTech World Cup or see the final unfold live and meet Stealth to Series B talent this June - get your pass today

Fermentation to Revolutionise Taste

“Alternative protein products we’ve seen in the market are typically plant-based, using extruded soy or pea protein. The challenge for this approach is to create products that are healthy whilst closely replicating the texture of animal products,” CEO and Co-Founder, Zac tells us.

The duo saw fermentation of mycelium as an opportunity to significantly improve on the texture, taste, and nutrition vs. many plant based approaches.

However, this comes with more process complexity. 

That’s why Pacifico Biolabs are building on the successes and learnings from earlier fermentation companies, like Quorn. 

By fermenting multiple microorganisms, including fungi, to create a highly nutritious and versatile biomass. 

Together they have built a process with cost and scalability as core considerations, with a focus on creating products that excel in both texture and flavour. 

Zac shares with us “Nutritionally, our products exceed conventional seafood such as cod or salmon in both protein and omega-3. 

We’ve had fantastic feedback on the taste and texture of our prototypes of various types/cuts of ‘fish’ and we’re looking forward to sharing these with more people later this year.

In terms of appearance, we’re creating products that clearly resemble fish when cooked, but what you won’t see is the same translucent appearance in our raw products as you would with raw fish.”

The Scale Up Saga

There are both technical and practical challenges to scaling up production. 

On the technical side, maintaining a consistent output as the fermentation is scaled requires precision in control of the process in minute detail. 

Scaling beyond the lab comes with the need to develop and optimise additional modules of the process such as automating the inputs and harvesting for the fermentation.

On the practical side, access to and financing of fermentation infrastructure is one of the key challenges facing the fermentation industry. Innovative solutions will be required to bring the volume of supply of fermented proteins closer to demand. 

Making Waves

Over the next 12 months their focus is on scaling-up our production, further process optimisation, and unlocking our first sales. 

They’re also going to be expanding the team across various technical roles (follow them on LinkedIn for the latest opportunities).

Giving Back

When we asked Zac about his biggest learnings and best advice to early stage founders, he points out that by far the most important part of their journey (so far) has been to bring on board an amazing team. 

“The value that we are creating as a company is so much driven by the quality of our R&D/technical team so the early focus on this is something that I’d really recommend!

Additionally, early identification of and focus on the technical challenges you will likely face as you scale your process over the coming years is very helpful in early process development. Anticipation of these challenges can enable adaptations that would be significantly more challenging to implement in year 3 vs. year 1.”

Zac pitched to the Investor Jury at the HackSummit 2023

Next Up, HackSummit

Pacifico Biolabs took part in the HackSummit Pitch Competition 2023, Zac shares what an early-stage startup can gain from getting involved in the HackSummit Pitch Competition,

“Overall, the Hack Summit is a stand-out event that I will definitely be going back to.  

I’d 100% recommend the pitch competition as a great way to meet some amazing people. Beyond the other contestants, many of whom I’m still in contact with, we had some very interesting follow-on conversations with various audience members, from investors to potential partners and collaborators.”

Applications to pitch at this year’s FoodTech World Cup close this Friday. 

Enter your startup into the global competition and represent your country on the global stage, apply today

What are you
waiting for?

CHF 650

CHF 600


Pre-seed to series C startups active in Climate & Food

Passes include:

All Conferences Access
Networking & Matchmaking App
Startup Fair Access
Lunches, Snacks, Drinks Included

CHF 800

CHF 720


Academia, NGOs, accelerators, incubators, and similar networks

Passes include:

All Conferences Access
Networking & Matchmaking App
Startup Fair Access
Lunches, Snacks, Drinks Included

CHF 1100

CHF 816


Venture Capital, CVC, Business Angels, Family Offices, Private Equity

Passes include:

All Conferences Access
Networking & Matchmaking App
Startup Fair Access
Lunches, Snacks, Drinks Included

CHF 1400

CHF 1100


Consultancies, law firms, agencies, established companies from industry and mid-tier (no start-ups)

Passes include:

All Conferences Access
Networking & Matchmaking App
Startup Fair Access
Lunches, Snacks, Drinks Included