Following a strong start to the year, this February continued the cellular agriculture field’s momentum from the end of 2022 to build the future food field. From advancements across both cell-cultured meat and acellular (also known as precision fermentation) industries, the field continued its great start to the year after January.
While January highlighted some of the struggles the industry may face this year, such as New Age Eats letting go of its facility due to funding reasons, February highlighted different ways companies and players in the field could come to support its broader goals.
From new funding rounds and partnerships to a new regulatory approval and ecosystem hub, we look at all the major announcements from the cellular agriculture field this February 2023.
Belgian startup Paleo announced the company raised €12 million in Series A funding to produce heme proteins, specifically myoglobin, via precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture). Paleo believes that its cell-cultured proteins can improve the taste and flavor of plant-based foods and plans to work with food manufacturers to integrate them with its protein.
In addition, Paleo intends to use the funding round to scale up the production of its myoglobin protein and to file for regulatory approval in specific markets. Paleo aims to have its cell-cultured myoglobin on the market by 2025.
Canadian company Future Fields announced raising $11.2 million in funding to produce growth factors for the cell-based meat industry. Instead of using steel bioreactors to produce recombinant proteins, Future Fields produces its proteins in fruit flies through its EntoEngine platform. The company claims that using fruit flies can help address the future supply-demand gap for steel bioreactors and produce growth factors much faster with minimal investment to scale production.
Future Fields plans to use the funding round to expand its team as well as build its production facility to produce recombinant proteins at a kilogram scale in Edmonton, Canada. Future Fields shared that it services more than 60 companies in the cellular agriculture field.
For companies looking to produce acellular products via precision fermentation, selecting the right type of host microorganism is crucial to optimize their production process. New startup Wild Microbes raised $3.3 million in pre-seed funding to support the precision fermentation field by identifying ‘wild’ microbes with unique traits and domesticating them through gene editing. The startup aims to support fermentation players by identifying the best microbes to produce their protein of interest efficiently.
Founded in 2022 by Ben Kramer and Tim Wannier, Wild Microbes’ funding round was led by Climate Capital and featured investments from Freeflow Ventures, Agronomics, and Fall Line Capital.
The Every Company announced that actress Anne Hathaway invested in the cellular agriculture egg protein company. From launching the first cell-cultured pepsin protein product in March 2021 to a range of product partnerships, like macarons and green juice smoothies, The Every Company believes it has showcased how its cell-cultured proteins can be used in a wide range of products. Hathaway’s first investment in a B2B company, Hathaway was drawn to impact investing after making personal lifestyle adjustments. In December 2021, The Every Company previously raised a massive $175 million in Series C funding to scale the production of its cell-cultured protein platform.
Based in Israel, Remilk produces its cell-cultured whey proteins via precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture). By designing microorganisms to produce the same whey protein found in cow’s milk, Remilk aims to make the same dairy products more sustainable.
In addition to the approval in Singapore, Remilk received a letter of no objections or questions from the FDA in the US for its cell-cultured whey protein. Remilk received its self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for its whey proteins in the US in June 2022.
Remilk becomes the second cell-cultured dairy company to receive approval to launch in both Singapore and the US. US-based company Perfect Day previously launched its cell-cultured whey proteins in Singapore and the US in August 2022 and May 2020, respectively.
As the only country in the world where consumers can buy both meat and dairy products produced via cellular agriculture, Remilk’s regulatory approval further strengthens Singapore’s position as a leader in the future of food field.
At the time of the announcement, Remilk did not share a timeline on when or how the company plans to launch its cell-cultured whey protein product in Singapore. Earlier in February, Remilk was one of the founding members of the newly launched Precision Fermentation Alliance.
At the same time, Remilk paused its plans to build its first fully-owned facility in Kalundborg, Denmark. According to the company, Remilk instead partnered with a contract manufacturer partner (CMO) in Western Europe to scale up production of its cell-cultured whey protein. The company claims working with a CMO helped it reach its production goals more rapidly and at a fraction of the capital investment. Remilk also clarified that it did not lack the funds to finance the facility. After raising the largest Series B round to date for a cell-cultured dairy company in Asia in January 2022, Remilk first announced its plan to construct a facility in Denmark in April 2022.
Earlier this year, Remilk also paused its plans to build its first fully-owned facility in Kalundborg, Denmark. After raising the largest Series B round for a cell-cultured dairy company in Asia in January 2022, Remilk first announced its plan to construct a facility in Denmark in April 2022.
UK-based Multus Biotechnology announced the launch of its latest cell culture media product: Vitronectin. According to the announcement, Vitronectin is a protein found in animals. Multus claims that it can be used with cell culture media to accelerate the growth and proliferation of cells.
In January 2023, Multus Biotechnology announced that the startup raised $9.5 million in Series A funding to develop a production plant in the UK.
Cellular agriculture infant nutrition company Biomilq announced the launch of a consumer breast milk testing services arm. Called Milq IQ, the platform aims to be an educational tool to democratize knowledge of breast milk by allowing parents to understand more about their milk. The platform lets parents send their breast milk to Biomilq’s milk experts to be tested for macronutrients, micronutrients, allergens, and overall composition. In addition, according to the website, Milq IQ offers users the option to contribute their breast milk to Biomilq’s lactation and breastfeeding research.
Australian company Vow shared it became the first cell-based meat company to begin the regulatory approval process with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). As part of the regulatory process, FSANZ will need to conduct a scientific and safety assessment to confirm the safety of Vow’s manufacturing process, stability of the cell line, ingredients, and final product.
Following the regulatory process, Vow aims to launch its first product, a Japanese cell-cultured quail called Morsel, in restaurants in Australia by 2024. When launching its cell-based meat facility in Sydney in October 2022, Vow shared the company also filed for regulatory approval in Singapore.
UK startup 3D Bio-Tissues (3DBT) shared that the BSF Enterprise subsidiary produced the first cell-based pork steak in the UK. According to the company, the fillet pork steak prototype “exceeded expectations” in taste, texture, and product appearance. Interestingly, compared to other product prototypes that use plant-based components and ingredients, 3DBT claims its cell-based pork steak compositionally was 100% pig animal cells.
The fillet pork steak was made using 3DBT’s proprietary serum-free cell culture media supplement, City-mix. The company believes its growth supplement can significantly reduce the cost of producing cell-cultured meat. In May 2022, special purpose acquisition company BSF Enterprise announced a reverse takeover of 3D Bio-Tissues.
Swiss startup Mirai Foods showcased its first cell-based beef tenderloin steak prototype. Calling its technology platform ‘Fibration Technology,’ Mirai Foods claims its technology platform can cultivate meat products that match conventional steaks of almost any thickness. For example, Mirai Foods stated that its tenderloin steak prototype is 1.5cm thick. Moving forward, Mirai Foods filed three patents for its platform. In addition, Mirai Foods shared that Swiss food and meat producer Angst AG has invested in the company and has raised more than $5 million in total funding.
Early in February, the cell-based meat field and stakeholders in South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop an ecosystem hub for the field in the country.
According to the announcement, the MOU consisted of 28 different signatories to initiate the formation of a cell-based meat cluster within the North Gyeongsang province to address the industry's critical scaling and commercialization challenges.
The different signatories in the MOU included the provincial North Gyeongsang government, cell-cultured meat startups and corporates, universities, research and technology institutes, and city governments.
As part of the MOU, the different cities plan to develop research and development facilities in partnership with the other stakeholders to advance the cell-cultured meat field.
For example, the consortium plans to establish a regulation-free zone in Uiseong where companies can showcase cell-based proof-of-concept prototypes. Uiseong will also develop industrial facilities for cell-based meat research and production.
The South Korean government previously shared its intention to establish a unified regulatory framework for alternative proteins in the country in its National Plan 2022, including for cell-based meat.
South Korean food company Pulmuone announced a partnership with the startup Simple Planet to produce and commercialize cell-based meat products in the country. According to the partnership, the two companies will co-develop and commercialize hybrid products containing cell- and plant-based ingredients.
Pulmuone aims to launch the hybrid products by 2025. In June 2022, Simple Planet shared that the new startup produced cell-based meat with a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids.
Based in Shanghai, China, CellX aims to use cellular agriculture to develop a range of cell-based meats, such as pork, and previously showcased its cell-cultured pork prototype in September 2021.
According to the announcement, the companies will leverage Tofflon’s expertise in biological equipment and production capability to develop innovative equipment, including bioreactors, and CellX’s cell-cultured meat technical knowledge to make China's first cell-based meat pilot facility.
Both companies will finance the facility construction together, with Tofflon providing financial capital for the project.
As part of the facility design, CellX shared that the pilot plant will feature multiple 1,000-liter bioreactors to scale up its suspension cell line to that scale in its serum-free cell culture media.
With an interactive public tastings space, CellX envisions its facility will be China’s first ‘transparent food space’ for visitors to understand cell-cultured meat research, production, and product tasting.
Moving forward, CellX shared that construction had already begun for its pilot plant facility and aims to be operational by mid-2023. In the future, CellX plans to work further with Tofflon to bring its cell-based meat to consumers across China and around the world.
South Korean company Seawith announced a partnership with Singapore cell-based meat contract manufacturing organization (CMO) Esco Aster to explore using Seawith’s proprietary microalgae technologies. Having raised its Series A funding round in February 2022, Seawith aims to develop cell-based meat products using its proprietary microalgae technology platform to develop its own scaffolding and cell-culture media formulation without requiring fetal bovine serum (FBS).
As companies look to scale and reduce the cost of producing cell-based meat, a critical part of the formulation will be eliminating FBS. According to the announcement, the partnership enables Esco Aster to explore using Seawith’s microalgae-derived scaffold and cell culture media to reduce the cost of producing cell-based meat products.
As a CMO focusing on the cell-based meat industry, it’s promising to see Esco Aster announce a partnership with Seawith to optimize its own supply chain to support the broader industry.
Singaporean cell-cultured seafood company Umami Meats announced a partnership with biotech company Triplebar. According to the announcement, the companies signed a letter of intent to collaborate on developing cell lines for cell-cultured seafood, starting with Japanese eel. Through Triplebar’s microfluidics platform, Umami Meats aims to identify and test different cell lines for properties that the cells need to grow well in bioreactors. Umami Meats also plans to expand the collaboration to other fish species.
In January 2023, FrieslandCampina Ingredients also announced a strategic partnership with Triplebar to develop and scale the production of bioactive proteins via precision fermentation.
Shiok Meats announced a partnership with consultancy group Beyond Builders to co-create an end-to-end Impact Dashboard. The dashboard will define, measure, and monitor the critical social and environmental impacts linked to Shiok Meats’ cell-cultured seafood and meat.
According to Shiok Meats, the company aims to develop an Impact Dashboard to help track its ESG data proactively. In July 2022, Shiok Meats announced a partnership with Vietnamese shrimp company Minh Phu Seafood.
Precision fermentation companies from around the world announced the launch of the Precision Fermentation Alliance to represent and advocate for the precision fermentation (also known as acellular agriculture) field as a part of a sustainable future food system.
According to the announcement, the Precision Fermentation Alliance was founded by nine precision fermentation companies focusing on a range of products that can be produced directly from cell cultures, such as egg proteins, meat proteins, and dairy protein products.
The Precision Fermentation Alliance will serve as an industry voice and global convener for the precision fermentation industry. Along with promoting an understanding of the foodtech field, the alliance aims to educate and engage with key stakeholders across the food industry value chain, including regulators.
The alliance also plans to establish global transparency around ingredients and foods made with precision fermentation to promote understanding and build trust with the food technology.
As the first trade organization representing the sector, it is promising to see the cell-cultured protein companies come together to launch the Precision Fermentation Alliance after seeing many cell-cultured meat players do the same.
In August 2019, several American cell-based meat companies announced the formation of the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation (AMPS innovation) to advocate for cell-based meat products.
Similarly, the organizations APAC-Society for Cellular Agriculture (APAC-SCA) and Cellular Agriculture Europe launched to represent the cellular agriculture fields in Asia-Pacific and Europe, respectively. However, their members consist almost entirely of cell-based meat players.
It will be interesting to see if the Precision Fermentation Alliance fosters further collaboration among the companies in the alliance.
In September 2022, Onego Bio and Perfect Day announced a partnership to scale the production of Onego Bio’s cell-cultured egg white proteins through nth Bio, Perfect Day’s enterprise biology business. The partnership was the first time two acellular agriculture companies announced a collaboration.
Cell-based meat company Aleph Farms announced a new facility acquisition and partnership to help the Israeli company scale and launch its cell-based beef steaks in Israel and Singapore, respectively.
Aleph Farms announced acquiring a manufacturing facility in Modi’in, Israel, and the related equipment from biotechnology company VBL Therapeutics for $7.1 million. The facility will be paired with technology from Aleph Farms’ pilot plant in Rehovot to produce large quantities of cell-cultured meat by late 2024.
In addition, Aleph Farms signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Singaporean contract manufacturing organization (CMO) Esco Aster to produce its cell-based beef steaks in Singapore. Through the partnership, Aleph Farms aims to start production in the country in 2025.
As part of the MOU, Aleph Farms shared that Esco Aster will work with religious authorities to obtain a halal certificate for its facility, meaning the resulting cell-cultured meat could be permitted for consumption by Muslims under religious dietary law.
An important stepping stone for the field’s cultural acceptance, the question of whether cell-cultured meat can be considered kosher or halal is essential for wider global acceptance of the products by the world’s Jewish and Muslim populations, respectively.
In January, Aleph Farms announced that its cell-based beef steaks would be considered kosher under the category of ‘pareve’ following a ruling made by the Chief Rabbi of Israel, opening the door for Aleph Farms to receive a kosher certificate ahead of market launch.
Considering that Esco Aster previously partnered with Dutch startup Meatable to produce its cell-based pork meat in its facility, it will be interesting to see if the CMO can receive halal certification for its facility. Consumption of pork meat is forbidden under both Jewish and Islamic dietary laws.
Moving forward, Aleph Farms aims to launch its thin-cut beef steaks at restaurants in Israel and Singapore later this year, pending regulatory approval, from its pilot facility in Rehovot, Israel. The company also shared it is scouting sites in the US to establish a larger-scale facility.
In a new report by the startup Synonym Bio, the company highlights the need for more fermentation facilities to meet the demand for future precision fermentation (acellular agriculture) and biomass fermentation production.
Published on Capacitator bio, a free online database developed by Synonym with Blue Horizon, the Good Food Institute, and the Material Innovation Initiative, the database documents over 150 facilities in over 30 countries with various fermentation capacities. The report highlights global fermentation capacities as well as the requests the Capacitator receives from its users in terms of desired facility features. It is important to note that the report is only partially comprehensive and is based on data points uploaded to the platform.
A spinoff from Pluri (formerly Pluristem Therapeutics), Israeli startup Ever After Foods (formerly Plurinova) aims to address the scaling challenges of cell-based meat through its proprietary technology platform. With patents covering its cell lines, bioreactor design, and harvesting process, Ever After Foods aims to be a technology enabler for the field claims its platform can reduce capital expenditure and provide a “700% increase” in productivity compared to other production platforms.
Ever After Foods started in January 2022 following a partnership agreement between Israeli food corporate Tnuva Group and Pluri to leverage the latter’s technology platform to produce cell-based meat.
Motif FoodWorks, which currently uses precision fermentation to produce its cell-cultured myoglobin protein, announced a partnership to explore using molecular farming to make its protein product.
Announcing a partnership with the startup IngredientWerks, Motif FoodWorks will explore whether using corn as a plant expression system might make more economical and environmental sense to produce its cell-cultured myoglobin protein, which is branded as HEMAMI.
Other companies in the future of food field are also using molecular farming to make their animal proteins, including proteins to support building the cell-based meat supply chain.
The FDA in the US published a draft guidance stating that plant-based products sold as alternatives to conventional dairy milk can call themselves milk. The FDA recommends that producers identify the plant source of the product, like oats or soy, and also include a voluntary nutrient statement that states how the product compares to dairy milk, such as lower amounts of vitamin D.
It will be interesting to see how the guidance impacts cell-cultured dairy products as more companies look to launch.
From new funding rounds and a wide range of partnerships to advance the field, February continued the cellular agriculture field’s strong start to the year. In particular, similar to February 2022, this month presented many new advancements by companies in the precision fermentation industry.
From funding rounds for Wild Microbes to develop the fermentation supply chain to Remilk exploring cell-cultured heme proteins, this February also featured the launch of the Precision Fermentation Alliance and Remilk receiving regulatory approval for its dairy proteins in Singapore.
The advancements in precision fermentation players highlight how the broader cellular agriculture field is moving forward to transform the food system to be more sustainable. At the same time, similar to New Age Eats letting go of its facility in January, Remilk also halted its plans to develop its own large-scale fermentation facility in Denmark.
In addition, February showcased steps across the Asia-Pacific region to advance the cell-based meat industry. From Aleph Farms partnering with Esco Aster to Vow starting its regulatory process in Australia, the initiative to develop a cellular agriculture hub in South Korea signifies how the field has grown in the country.
Beyond the partnerships announced by Simple Planet and Seawith this month, South Korean startup Space F and its partners received a government grant of $15 million to research developing and scaling cultured meat production in May 2022.
More recently, in September 2022, the startup TissenBioFarm raised $1.6 million in pre-Series A funding to develop cell-cultured meat through its 3D-bioprinting platform. In addition, CellMeat showcased its cell-cultured shrimp products in Seoul in various dishes in July.
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