Companies have received €1.2 million in additional funding from EIT Food to develop innovative products to reduce the cost of producing cultivated meat within the next two years.

CC-BY_Uncommon_Bacon and pancakes 2_credit Higher Steaks and Tailored Brands

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Bacon (served with pancakes and in a BLT) , tasted in July 2020. Access & Permission: CC BY

EIT Food has awarded funding to research teams from the UK, Germany and Israel to slash the cost of cell culture media – one of the most significant barriers to commercialising this food – after their plans were originally put forward in the Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge backed by international nonprofit the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe. 

EIT Food funding will support these companies to pursue further market testing and commercialisation in order for these innovative products to reach European consumers.

Cultivated meat

Cultivated meat is the same as the beef, pork, chicken and seafood people enjoy today but made in cultivators instead of by farming animals, and could cause up to 92% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat. 

Cell culture media – the nutrient-rich brew that feeds the cells as they grow in a cultivator – remains the most expensive element of cultivating meat. 

Each of these companies will use ‘food grade’ cell culture media – far less costly and energy-intensive to produce than the pharmaceutical-grade media used by biotech companies – and plans to develop commercial products that cultivated meat companies can use to produce higher cell yields.

  • The UK’s 3D Bio-Tissues Ltd, a spin-out from Newcastle University producing human corneas for eye transplants, plans to scale up production of their existing formula, which is synthesised from the byproducts of agroforestry and other industries, by expanding their manufacturing facilities. They also plan to develop an innovative media mix by combining this technology with other low-cost, food-grade ingredients that can be sold to cultivated meat companies as ready-to-use, recyclable products.
  • Israeli company BioBetter uses technology that ‘teaches’ tobacco plants to produce the growth factors cells need to reproduce – in a process similar to that which is already used to create vaccines and other medicines. The company describes the plants as ‘ecofriendly bioreactors’ because the protein can be extracted from the entire plant, which can then be harvested up to four times a year. They have already completed work on their pilot plant, plan to scale up production this year and aim to begin supplying their product to cultivated meat companies in 2024.

Dr Adam M. Adamek, director of innovation at EIT Food, said: “This is such an exciting time for cultivated meat innovation, and we’re delighted to be awarding new funding to the most cutting-edge startups in the industry.

“The cost of cell-culture media is a significant barrier to scaling cultivated meat, and we hope that reducing this will bring us one step closer to seeing these innovations on the market – and to achieving a more healthy, sustainable food system.”

Seren Kell, senior science and technology manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “It’s very exciting to see these innovative ideas turned into plans that could be brought to the market within the next two years, helping cultivated meat companies across the world to drive prices down and turn this more sustainable way of making meat into a commercial reality.

“This work could have a major impact on how quickly we can scale up production and create a more sustainable food system.”