Commercializing cell-based products such as cultivated meat remains challenging due to the substantial costs and ethical implications of fetal bovine serum. To find solutions, EIT Food, the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community, and the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe launched the Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge to develop a more affordable and efficient animal-free cell culture media.
The winners, UK biotech company 3D Bio-Tissues, Israeli biotech startup BioBetter, and German pharmaceutical company LenioBio have received €1.8 million from EIT Food. With the funds, the companies will continue their R&D efforts in developing lower-cost alternatives to bovine serum. Moreover, they will produce cultivated meat products using their innovations.
Dr. Adam M. Adamek, director of innovation at EIT Food, said: “The cost of cell-culture media is a significant barrier to scaling cultivated meat, and we hope that reducing this will bring us one step closer to seeing these innovations on the market – and to achieving a more healthy, sustainable food system.”
Animal-free cell media
Over the next two years, the research projects undertaken by the companies will focus on creating more efficient products that enhance cell growth and achieve higher cell yields. Additionally, the companies will conduct extensive market testing to commercialize their innovations in the European market.
To date, the winning companies have achieved significant milestones:
3D Bio-Tissues, a subsidiary of BSF Enterprise, plans to scale the production of its cell-boosting media Citi-Mix. The company recently opened an office in Hong Kong, aiming to expand to the dynamic Chinese market where it plans to manufacture its cell media. Moreover, it intends to develop an innovative media mix, combining Citi-Mix’s tech with other low-cost, food-grade ingredients.
BioBetter uses molecular farming to grow in tobacco plants the proteins to make growth factors, such as FGF2 and insulin. Its platform transforms plants into efficient bioreactors that can be harvested up to four times yearly. BioBetter recently opened its first pilot plant with commercial-scale cultivation and processing capacities. The company is set to supply its products in 2024.
LenioBio aims to redefine biopharma manufacturing. The company claims it has developed a tech to grow plant cells that produce proteins within 48 hours. According to LenioBio, cultivated meat companies can use its novel technology to create any protein at speed anywhere in the world without cell engineering expertise using only standard equipment. LenioBio plans to launch a spin-off company to scale and distribute its product globally.
A commercial reality
Before selling cultivated meat products in EU member states, the products must undergo approval from the European Food Safety Authority, overseen by the Novel Foods Regulation.
Today, The Cultivated B, the cultivated meat subsidiary of Germany’s Infamily Foods, became the first company in the world to register a cell-cultivated meat product with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). But the first company to seek novel foods approval in Europe is Aleph Farms, which submitted a dossier to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO)in Switzerland this July.
In the UK, cultivated meat startup Ivy Farm Technologies and the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI) have been advocating for more agile cultivated meat regulations. The UK government has announced that it will update the country’s Novel Foods Regulations to support cultivated meat and alt proteins in general.
“It’s very exciting to see these innovative ideas turned into plans that could be brought to the market within the next two years, helping cultivated meat companies across the world to drive prices down and turn this more sustainable way of making meat into a commercial reality,” commented Seren Kell, senior science and technology manager at the Good Food Institute Europe.meat protein cell-based alt