USA – The University of California Davis has received a grant of up to US$3.55m from the US-based National Science Foundation (NSF) Growing Convergence program to explore the long-term sustainability of cultivated meat.
The NSF-funded project, which will run over five years, has a number of goals to include developing stable stem cell lines from which cultivated meat can be grown.
Also, its focus is to develop inexpensive, plant-based media in which to grow the cells and assessing the nutritional value, stability and sensory qualities of cultivated meat products.
The project aims to look at both “unstructured” products such as for sausage or burger patties and “structured” products that look and cook more like natural cuts of meat or fish.
“What we want to know is, will cultivated meat be a viable supplement to traditional agriculture?”Principal investigator Professor – David Block.
The grant grew out of the UC Davis Cultivated Meat Consortium, established in 2019 in conjunction with the biotechnology Program, after conversations with the Good Food Institute and several cultivated meat companies throughout California.
The consortium acts as a hub for exchanging knowledge on related research on campus, and also to train graduate students interested in this new industry.
The campus has expertise in cultivating stem cells, biomanufacturing and chemical engineering, as well as in food science and fermentation, noted Denneal Jamison-McClung, director of the Biotechnology Program.
The NSF grant represents the US government’s biggest investment in cultivated meat research to date.
It’s also the first cultivated meat grant that the US government has awarded to a university and not to a company, according to the Good Food Institute.
The investment builds off of UC Davis’ track record of growing industry through its on-campus programs.
“I hope we can do for the cultivated meat industry what the Department of Viticulture and Enology has been able to do for the California wine industry,” says principal investigator Professor David Block.
He is also the chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.
“The societal need is to feed nine billion people,” Block underscores. He adds that he doesn’t see cultivated meat as replacing conventional agriculture, but rather as adding more production and flexibility.
Potentially, if the conditions are right, farmers might find it advantageous to operate cultivated meat production alongside conventional agriculture, he affirms.
“What we want to know is, will cultivated meat be a viable supplement to traditional agriculture?”
According to MarketsandMarkets, the global cultured meat market is estimated to be valued at US$ 214 million in 2025 and is projected to reach US$ 593 million by 2032, recording a CAGR of 15.7% from 2025 to 2032.
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