With a predicted world population reaching just short of 10 billion by 2050 (3 billion more than there were in 2010), developing efficient, environmentally friendly and affordable food production technologies becomes a real challenge. Additionally, the livestock sector is already responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and uses 30% and 8% of the Earth’s terrain and freshwater respectively. There are also growing concerns regarding food safety and contaminants present in our meat e.g. anti-biotics, plastics, mercury etc. It is estimated that the global meat demand will increase by 73% by 2050, and therefore producing meat independently from livestock can be seen as a feasible and sustainable alternative. There are also growing concerns regarding food safety and contaminants present in our meat e.g. anti-biotics, plastics, mercury etc.
Cultured meat, which is a form of cellular agriculture, is meat produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals. Although this has been the subject of research since the 1970s, many commentators now believe cultured meat will soon enter the global processed meat industry which is projected to grow from $714 billion in 2016 to $1.5 trillion by 2022.
The rationale and business case of cultured meat mainly relies in the following reasons: i) it is more environmentally friendly; ii) It allows slaughter free meat consumption and iii) The meat contains fewer contaminants
Currently, cultured meat is produced by growing cells on a surface until no free space remains, at which point all the cells are detached and collected. The process is then repeated to produce the next batch. CellulaREvolution Ltd is developing a continuous approach by coating the surface with a functional coating (lipopeptides) before seeding with cells (1). After the cells grow, they “self-detach” from the lipopeptide coating, allowing other immature cells to take their place, so there is no need to chemically or enzymatically detach the whole batch. This novel approach facilitates a continuous or unremitting production of adherent cells without the need to reset the system i.e. not a batch process.
However, despite the great promise of cultured meat, scaling up its production is a considerable and costly hurdle for these companies. A small meat patty will contain about 10 billion adherent cells and using traditional batch processes could take a single 5000L bioreactor 1 month to produce. The technology being developed by CellulaREvolution could reduce the time down to one week whilst requiring significantly less media and space.
This in turn means that cultured meat companies using our technology will be able to solve three of the main issues currently present in the industry (i. Removal of serum from the production process, ii. Scale-up so that production capacity can meet expected demand, iii) Reduce cultured meat cost to become comparable to conventional meat products.
CellulaRevolution is still a nascent company, only to have become fully incorporated in July 2019. Since then, the company founded by Martina Miotto (CSO), Che Connon (CTO) and Leo Groenewegen (CEO), has managed to grow to a team of seven.
The short-term goals of the company are to use the prototype of its continuous bioreactor to start making first sales to cultured meat companies, many of whom we are currently in close collaboration with. The company is also planning a funding round mid-late 2020 which will allow the company to really gear up for uninhibited growth!
CellulaRevolution is also starting to become a real thought leader in the field of cultured meat and cell therapy. As such CellulaREvolution CEO, Leo Groenewegen has been invited as an expert speaker at two upcoming leading industry events (Industrializing Cell Based Meats and Advanced Therapies Congress and Expo) and soon both Martina Miotto and Leo Groenewegen will make their appearance on the Cultured Meat and Future Food Podcast, which is the leading podcast on cultured meat.