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Cultivated Meat hitting the mark. Credit: Higher Stakes and Tailored Brands

food | water

New dawn for guilt-free meat

Meat eaters might soon find themselves having their cake and eating it by eating meat in a way that is better for the environment and the welfare of animals.

That is because the future of cultivated meat: slaughter-free meat made directly from cells in cultivators, and with 92% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat, looks very promising. With the winners of the first ever Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge, designed by EIT Food in partnership with the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe, providing a taste of what is to come.

The focus of the challenge was on cutting the cost of cell culture media, the bit critical to growing the cells.

And the four challenge winners will now each receive €100k to support the development of their solutions, with the new investment expected to mean these innovations will hit the market within three years.

“It’s fascinating to see the sheer diversity of the ideas and the wide range of organisations that have come forward to crack one of the biggest challenges preventing this sustainable food becoming affordable to all – potentially slashing the carbon emissions of our food system while satisfying rising global demand for meat,” said Seren Kell, science and technology manager at the Good Food Institute Europe. “These teams now have a huge opportunity to drive prices down, and their work could have a major impact on how quickly we can scale up production as part of a more sustainable food system.”

The four winners are:

  • Israeli company BioBetter, which 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.
  • Portuguese research organisation S2AQUAcoLAB, which will assess whether microalgae can produce the ingredients needed to cultivate seafood, which could help to prevent problems such as overfishing. Microalgae can be grown in large tanks, making production of this growth factor incredibly efficient if it proves effective.
  • German pharmaceutical company LenioBio, which will use their existing technology to quickly produce proteins by stripping material from rapidly-growing plant cells. They will be partnering with leading food producer Kerry Group to demonstrate how this can be used to develop the growth factors needed for cultivated meat.
  • The UK’s 3D Bio-Tissues Ltd, a spin-out from Newcastle University producing human corneas for eye transplants, which will use their existing formula synthesised from the byproducts of agroforestry and other industries. Working with the global donor-funded research institute New Harvest, they will combine this product with growth factors produced by Cambridge-based QKine to reduce the amount of cell culture media needed to cultivate meat. 

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Written By

Iain is an experienced writer, journalist and lecturer, who held editorships with a number of business focussed publications before co-founding and becoming editor of Innovators Magazine. Iain is also the strategic director for OnePoint5Media.


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