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Cultivated meat startups win Prize Based Challenge at EIT Food Venture Summit 2022

Four projects awarded €100,000 each to reduce costs of cultivated meat

27 Oct 2022

Four innovative startups have been awarded €100,000 each at the EIT Food Venture Summit 2022 to develop new solutions to bring down the cost of cultivated meat.

Cultivated meat takes cells from real animals, and then replicates these cells in a cultivator, producing real meat without the need to farm or slaughter animals.

The Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge, in partnership with GFI Europe, was created to find pioneering new solutions to help drive down the cost of cell culture media which is essential for the production of cultivated meat, and thereby making cultivated meat more affordable and accessible to all.

The winners were chosen following an open call for applications, with projects having undergone a scientific review and judged on criteria including addressing unmet needs, feasibility, collaboration and contributing to the scientific community.

The four winners hail from across Europe, and each address at least one of two approaches: developing media recycling technologies, or developing a low-cost cell culture media for species-relevant cells: 

1. City-mix™ Cell-Boosters and Thermostable Growth Factors (UK)

      3DBio-Tissues will combine its unique food-grade City-mix™ supplements with Qkine’s world-leading, highly thermostable growth factors to maximise effectiveness of animal-free culture media, reduce reliance on other protein components, and accelerate commercialisation at lower costs.

      2. Optimal Growth Factor Expression in Tobacco (Israel)

          The BioBetter project is based on FGF2 gene expression optimisation, resulting in high and stable expression in tobacco plants, which function as an eco-friendly bioreactor that combines the advantages of low-cost, large-scale agriculture with those of eukaryotic vectors.

          3. Plant-Based Cell-Free Expression (Germany)

            LenoBio is developing a radically different way to produce recombinant proteins, plant-based cell-free expression at industrial scale, with ALiCE®, the first scalable eukaryotic cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) system.

            4. Microalgae Hydrolysates for Cellular Aquaculture (Portugal)

              S2AQUAcoLAB will assess microalgae hydrolysates (µCELLAQUA), a cost-effective source of nutrients, for their capacity to sustain fish cell growth toward animal serum replacement in culture medium. To promote a circular economy, the growth of microalgae on spent cell medium will also be tested.

              Realising the potential of cultivated meat

              “Many of us are aware of the impact that industrial agriculture is having on global issues such as climate change, antibiotic resistance and the spread of zoonotic diseases, and recognise the need to reduce our reliance on farming animals,” said Paola Giavedoni, Director of Innovation at EIT Food.

              “Yet despite this, demand for meat continues to grow, as taste and price – rather than environmental or health impacts – decide what most people eat. This is why cultivated meat has so much potential; it is exactly the same as the beef, pork, chicken or seafood that people already enjoy, but grown directly from animal cells, rather than needing to farm animals.

              “However, before we can scale up production and bring down prices, we will need to invest in more research and innovation focused on reducing the cost of cell culture media, increasing the availability of cell lines, and building larger and more efficient bioreactors for the cells to grow in.”

              The winners will now use the prize money to support the development of a viable project plan, supported by mentoring from EIT Food experts, with the ambition that the most promising projects will then be selected for further funding to bring the idea to market.

              The award follows EIT Food’s first Prize Based Challenge on Personalised Nutrition For All, where six winners were awarded €30,000 each to develop new solutions to reduce obesity and malnutrition.