Marama Labs raise millions for scale-up of phenolic analysis platform

Marama Labs chief technical officer Dr Matthias Meyer (left) and chief executive officer Dr Brendan Darby (right). Image courtesy Marama Labs

With customers such as Giesen and Cloudy Bay, New Zealand and Ireland-based deep-tech start up Marama Labs has closed its oversubscribed seed-plus round, led by European agritech investor The Yield Lab, with participation from global investors.

Marama Labs, the startup behind CloudSpec, is developing novel spectroscopy technology for chemical analysis of complex liquids including wine, has closed a seed-plus round of €1.75 million (AU $2.89 million).

CloudSpec equips winemakers with previously unavailable quantitative chemical data to support and enhance their decision-making throughout the winemaking process, from the vineyard to the wine bottle. Marama Labs’ customers use CloudSpec’s unique scientific data to produce quality and consistent wines that reflect their brand’s identity in the market.


Marama Labs’ CloudSpec spectrophotometer for analysing opaque liquid samples


“CloudSpec Insights is designed to give a busy winemaker colour and phenolic data on their wines at all stages of production that is easy to access, understand and act upon,” explained Dr Brendan Darby, CEO and co-founder of Marama Labs.


“Before CloudSpec, colour and phenolic analysis was time-consuming, expensive, and overly complex. We’ve simplified the process and are seeing our customers gain valuable business insights by using this data in the vineyard, the winery and through to the retail market.”

CloudSpec-Insights couples the CloudSpec hardware device with a wine-specific web application, where data generated by the device on wine samples are visualised in the cloud. Winemakers can make informed decisions around winemaking production, blending, vintage consistencies, consumer targeting and new brand development.

The new funding will allow Marama Labs to scale up hardware manufacturing capacity in New Zealand for its patented CloudSpec spectroscopy instrumentation and further develop its CloudSpec-Insights data platform. The platform enables opaque liquid samples, like fermenting wines and nano-medicines, to be analysed in a fraction of the time it takes with existing instrumentation, giving customers chemical data to optimise and improve production processes. The company will also expand its global footprint in the wine industry and launch its first product to the life-sciences market in 2024.

The investment was led by The Yield Lab, a European agritech venture capital firm with participation from existing investors, including New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, Icehouse Ventures, Quidnet Ventures and angel groups from New Zealand. New investors DeepIE, Radar Ventures, NZVC and angel and high-net-worth investors from New Zealand, Ireland and Germany also participated in the round.


Marama Labs co-founders (left to right) Dr Brendan Darby, CEO, Dr Matthias Meyer, CTO, and Professor Eric Le Ru, CSO

Marama Labs’ customers include New Zealand wineries Giesen and Cloudy Bay, who have used the platform for three years. In the US, clients include ultra-premium small producers in Napa and top-10 large producers who have deployed the technology across multiple production facilities.

John Carrigan, investment director at The Yield Lab (Europe), was “delighted” to be backing Marama Labs.

“We’ve been really impressed by the Marama Labs team’s progress to date, taking a highly complex technology out of the lab in New Zealand and now gaining significant traction in global markets like winemaking and life sciences. This is a technology and company that we see creating real benefits to the planet.”

“This oversubscribed funding round demonstrates the conviction new and existing investors have for Marama Labs’ vision of optimising the world’s liquid resources through spectroscopy analysis,” said Dr Darby.  “2024 will be a seminal year for Marama as we continue creating value for our winemaking customers and expand CloudSpec into the rapidly growing life-sciences market.”

Marama Labs is also partnering with third-party testing labs to make the technology available to smaller wineries. These labs offer CloudSpec analysis as a service to wineries, and wineries subscribe to the CloudSpec Insights platform through Marama Labs, giving them access to the power of CloudSpec data analytics without the need to own a device. The CloudSpec testing lab network is growing rapidly across the United States, with partners in Napa, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

With this new funding in place Marama Labs will invest further in developing its CloudSpec-Insights software platform, adding new features such ferment prediction algorithms and regional phenolic benchmarking. A US version of its popular “Market Wines” benchmarking tool will also be launching in February, allowing clients to visualise their own wine styles against competitive styles and brands in the market.

For more on Marama Labs and its revolutionary deep-tech spectroscopy technology, see CloudSpec will also be on show at the 2024 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (exhibition booth #2520) on January 24 & 25 in Sacramento, California.

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