Jacinda Tutty, 13 April 2016

A PROBIOTIC water has made the leap from the lab to supermarket shelves after securing $4 million in funding to take on the world’s $50 billion market.

PERKii, developed by scientists at the University of Queensland, won over investors at Uniseed, UniQuest, Brisbane Angels and start-up gurus at Woolworths to fund a deal to stock their world-first drink in more than 300 Woolworths Caltex outlets in Australia.

The team behind the business hope the flavoured water-based drink, which delivers one billion live probiotics to the digestive system, will take on Australia’s growing “functional drinks” market.

Chief executive Randy Milne, a former Coca-Cola Amatil business manager, said he hoped the drink would strike a chord with health-conscious consumers and help the Brisbane-based start-up expand even further on to supermarket shelves around the country.

“I came across what the team at UQ had been doing and I knew I had to give it a crack,” he said.

“I left my high-paying job for three shampoo bottles of this liquid and made a plan to bring it to life.”

PERKii was nurtured by Woolworths’ new start-up program WStart after the supermarket giant noticed a consumer shift towards “functional drinks”.

“Their data showed that’s what people are now after,” Mr Milne said.

“People are more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies and there’s a movement away from sugar, but your average kid isn’t going to put down his Fanta for a kale shake.

“We saw PERKii as a great opportunity to bridge the gap between taste and health.”

The Brisbane-headquartered business has partnered with Bevco to produce the products, which are only 26 calories each drink.

They hope to conquer the Australian market before exploring export options down the line.

“My vision is to bring something different to the $50 billion probiotics industry that hasn’t changed much at all in the last 30 years,” Mr Milne said. “Once we prove ourselves to consumers then we can really get on the dance floor and develop even more products.”

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.