Dutch cell-grown meat startup Mosa Meat raises US$55m in funding for licensing in Europe

NETHERLANDS – Mosa Meat, a Dutch company that made the world’s first lab-grown meat burger back in 2013, has raised US$55 million in new funding led by Luxembourg’s Blue Horizon Ventures, which it hopes to use to bring the burgers to actual customers.

The funding will be used to expand Mosa Meat’s facility in Maastricht into an industrial-sized production line, as well as getting European licences for the products.

Having secured funding, Mosa Meat’s next hurdle is getting regulatory approval for the product.

“In Europe, it’s determined by a Novel Foods approval process, which is expected to take at least one and a half years,” Mosa Meat’s head of production Sarah Lucas said.

“We’re working as hard as we can to get to market, because we want to start making a real impact as soon as possible. We aim to pioneer a cleaner, kinder way of making real beef, and ultimately reshape the global food system.”

“In the next 3 years, we aim to scale up to one industrial-sized production line, work with regulators to demonstrate the safety of cultivated meat, and introduce the first cultivated beef to consumers,”

Sarah Luca – head of production, Mosa Meat

The raise comes amid a flurry of interest from investors and consumers for alternative meat products. Much of the early interest has been in companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible making burgers made of plants which look and taste like meat.

But Mosa Meat is creating actual meat, just a type made in a lab rather by a living animal, which is seen as the next frontier in food technology.

“In the next 3 years, we aim to scale up to one industrial-sized production line, work with regulators to demonstrate the safety of cultivated meat, and introduce the first cultivated beef to consumers,” Lucas said.

The startup now has 50 scientists working on the burgers and they’ve managed to bring the cost of an individual burger down 88 times compared to what it was back in 2013. The first burger cost €250,000 (US$290,787) to make – it was funded by Google cofounder Sergey Brin — but the startup now projects that each burger will cost €9 (US$10.47).

The hefty price of Mosa Meat’s first burgers was down to the serum the cells were grown in, fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is found in cows’ foetuses. One litre cost between £300 (US$382) and £700 (US$892), and it took around 50 of them to make one burger.

But the team’s scientists have now managed to remove FBS from the process.

“Our team successfully removed FBS by ensuring that the essential elements of FBS are in the growth medium, but sourced animal-free,” Lucas says. So far, the FBS is replaced with pharma-grade component equivalents, but the team is working on agricultural grade replacements, which are much cheaper.

Mosa Meat is part of a wider, very active lab-grown meat startup scene in Europe, and the companies are racing to bring animal-free meat to the table.

Startups working on lab-grown meat have reported the difficulty of securing funding from investors, given the significant time between investment and return.

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