In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.

At a glance

Founders: Irina Miller, Nikki Freed, Emily McIsaac

Business: Daisy Lab

Founded: 2021

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Daisy Lab’s mission is to produce dairy-identical protein without cows. We use precision fermentation technology which uses microorganisms to make dairy proteins in a process similar to brewing beer. The resulting microbial dairy proteins are identical to traditional dairy proteins. By developing this technology in New Zealand, we can build on New Zealand’s 100 year heritage in traditional dairy innovation, while diversifying and future-proofing the industry.

 Our dairy identical proteins can be used to make products like milk, yogurt, and cheese that replicate the texture, consistency and taste of traditional dairy unlike current vegan dairy alternatives. Daisy Lab aims to make it easy for all consumers, vegan and non-vegan alike, to make an ethical and environmentally sustainable choice without having to compromise on taste and texture. This technology allows NZ to continue to expand our biggest exporter, the dairy industry, but in a future-proof and sustainable way.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

Daisy Lab was the idea of Irina Miller, who had heard of precision fermentation technology and thought it made a lot of sense. She was sure that the technology would take off in New Zealand, but after years of watching and waiting, she decided to do something herself. She approached Dr Nikki Freed, a molecular biologist, and together they started Daisy Lab. To get the research off the ground, masters student, Emily McIsaac joined as the third cofounder. Since then, the team has grown with the addition of three other passionate research scientists.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

We were lucky enough to be the winners of the Got Nous? competition, which awarded us a monetary prize as well as ongoing support and mentoring. The advice from the Got Nous team has been invaluable in helping us develop our business. 

Additionally, we have received several other grants such as the Westpac Government Innovation Fund, Callaghan Research Grant and SFFF grant. There has been a huge amount of support from both organisations and individuals, offering expertise on fermentation, scientific processing, capital raising and more.


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