Local venture firm invests $2.5M in company that makes food from waste

Indianapolis-based HG Ventures on Monday announced it will invest $2.5 million in Oakland-based Renewal Mill, a food ingredients company that uses waste from other food manufacturers to make its products.

Renewal Mill is the first announced recipient of funding from HG Ventures, the venture capital arm launched last year by the Indianapolis-based Heritage Group. Heritage Group officials said the fund would invest up to $50 million annually in private companies that are developing new technologies and approaches in its core and adjacent markets.

Heritage Group, a privately held holding company controlled by the Fehsenfeld family, was founded in 1930 and has about 6,500 employees globally in its portfolio companies, with about half of those working in Indiana. The company has various holdings in environmental services and remediation, specialty chemicals and fuel products, and construction and materials.

Renewal Mill, founded in 2016, converts byproducts from food manufacturing into "nutritionally valuable" food ingredients and other food products. Its initial product was okara flour, which is harvested from the soybean pulp left over from soymilk and tofu production.

Renewal Mill CEO and founder Claire Schlemme said Renewal Mill “upcycles byproducts, like okara, into high-quality ingredients and keeps valuable nutrition in the supply chain.”

Renewal Mill officials said they will use the funding from HG Ventures to increase production and expand into new markets.

In 2018, Renewal Mill was one of nine companies chosen for the very first Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator class. As part of the program, Renewal Mill received an  equity investment from Techstars and was enrolled in a joint research and development project with agricultural giant Cargill Inc.

“Renewal Mill is at the forefront of providing innovative and widely available enhancements to the food production value chain,” Kip Frey, executive vice president of new ventures for Heritage Group, said in a written statement. “We look forward to supporting the company’s efforts in pursuit of a more sustainable and healthful food production ecosystem.”

Schlemme said HG Ventures has “the expertise and experience to help us expand our current operations and product offerings.”

When it announced the new venture fund, Heritage Group said it would focus primarily on early and growth-stage opportunities but could also invest in companies at any stage of development. Officials said they have a definite interest in investing in Hoosier companies but would not be limited by geography.

Heritage Group has a stake in 31 companies, including Calumet Specialty Products, Heritage Environmental Services, Monument Chemical, Milestone Contractors and Asphalt Materials Inc.

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