Revolutionary WikiCells food packaging moves closer to reality

WikiCells, a food packaging technology that could eliminate the need for plastic containers, has secured a $10m venture capital investment which it says will see it launch its first products next year. The WikiCell encloses food or drinks in similar ways to the natural skins that protect fruits such as grapes, apples, oranges or coconuts. [Click pic to enlarge]

Aside from the $10 million Series-A financing co-led by Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners, the company also announced that co-founder Robert Connelly will lead WikiCell Designs as CEO.

“WikiCell Designs was created to turn food and beverage packaging from plastic toward all-natural forms, protecting products much as nature does, and eliminating the need for protective materials that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. This approach has the potential to fundamentally change the way food is packaged and consumed,” says WikiCell Designs co-founder David Edwards, Professor at Harvard University and founder of ArtScience Labs, which brings interdisciplinary creative processes to new product development.

“Robert Connelly is a gifted and proven company builder and product developer, and speaking for the board, we are delighted that he is leading WikiCell.”

“WikiCell Designs offers the consumer a path to reducing their plastic and paper footprint while enjoying a truly delicious and unique eating experience. By replacing plastic and other forms of packaging with delicious natural edible packaging, Wikicell can have a profound impact on the world,” says Connelly.

“This technology is applicable to a vast amount of food and beverages and we intend to market products direct to consumer and in retail settings, with our own branded products and with partner brands.”

The WikiCells consists of a membrane of charged particles (of edible substances) bound by electrostatic forces; this surrounds a liquid, foam or solid food and is then wrapped in an edible or biodegradable hard shell.

Connelly has told that they have demonstrated products including mousses, juices and even solids such as vegetables.

“We are likely to launch products with partners who have well known branded products and directly to consumers on our own.

“It is not confirmed yet what those products will be but we will be in a limited market testing and entry starting this winter with ice cream, cheeses and yoghurts.”

He said it was too early to discuss where the products would be produced and in what quantities, but more would be known by the end of the year.

Connelly confirms that they have made significant progress, particularly for refrigerated products: “There is still room for further development and we expect to be at a point where the stability and overall technology can be scaled for mass production, shipment and storage within a year.”

Addressing possible contamination problems, Connolly adds the WikiCell product can be washed: “In some consumer acquisition settings we will require an outer ‘shell’ which will protect the inner from contamination and damage.

“But this can also be completely biodegradable since the WikiCell packaging prevents the food or beverage from touching the outer shell and this prevents the food and beverage from being touched by the outer shell or anything else.”

Caption: WikiCell hasn’t said what these are, but it included this image in its news release announcing $10 million in VC to develop edible food and beverage packaging.

Read the WikiCell press release