High-protein ice cream brand Wheyhey has raised £3m in a funding round backed by food & drink heavyweights to battle mounting competition in the category.

The business, launched in 2013 by Damien Kennedy, secured the cash from UK investment syndicate Adjuvo. The raise includes support from a group of high-profile, experienced individuals, including former Weetabix CEO Giles Turrell, Saga CEO Lance Batchelor and Mothercare chairman Alan Parker and Bob Wigley, chairman of the new financial services trade association.

Wheyhey plans to use the investment for marketing, in-store activity and NPD, including the launch of its first ambient product - a brownie that is naturally low in sugar and high in protein.

The funding comes after low-calorie US ice cream sensation Halo Top hit UK shores earlier this month with listings in Tesco and Ocado. Halo Top has grown its US market share to 5% since launching in 2012 after reinventing indulgence as ‘healthy’ and eating into sales of Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.

“Receiving such significant backing at this stage in our journey is testament to not only the strength and uniqueness of our products, but also the fact that we are relentless in our pursuit to transform the face of food for the better,” Kennedy said.

“Our newly announced funding from a group of influential investors who share Wheyhey’s spirit and passion for changing the way we eat, means that we have the pieces in place for a massively exciting year ahead.”

Wheyhey has secured product listings for its 500ml chocolate and vanilla ice cream variant in Sainsbury’s and its 100ml four-pot multipacks in vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel flavours in Tesco. The business also exports to Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Ireland, with plans to expand out of the EU this year.

Wheyhey’s brownies will be available in chocolate coconut, chocolate peanut and chocolate orange flavours in retailers from March.

John Stapleton, co-founder of Covent Garden Soup and Little Dish, has acted as a mentor to Kennedy. “Damien and the Wheyhey team are now gearing up for massive growth and expansion, both in the UK and internationally,” he said. ”Category growth and consumer demand for healthy tasty alternatives is enormous. This is exactly the type of challenge that I love to be involved with, leveraging my own experience and expertise.”