UK bioprocessing company CellRev has published a white paper titled The Future of Commercial-Scale Cell Manufacturing, highlighting the challenges and opportunities faced by the cellular agriculture industry.
The paper gives the opinions of experts from across the industry, finding that innovation is needed in all areas. Increased scale will be necessary to make cultivated products mainstream and commercially viable; this will require facilities that can produce huge quantities of cells, which will only be possible with considerable investment. However, livestock farmers currently receive far more public funding than cultivated meat companies.
“The meta long-term challenge to the cultivated meat industry is cost”
More investment into large-scale facilities would allow for the automation of cultivated meat production, reducing the need for skilled labor. Furthermore, current processes and equipment are mostly designed for other biologic products, and are not ideal for growing whole animal tissues. Developing new, more suitable methods and bioreactors could help the industry scale up more effectively.
However, there are also several opportunities in the field of commercial-scale cell manufacturing. New technologies are helping to bring down the cost of both processing and consumables, while some governments are beginning to provide financial support for the industry. Additionally, more countries are exploring the possibility of granting regulatory approval to cultivated products, which has to date been one of the key barriers to mainstream adoption.
Overcoming long-term challenges
The white paper comes just weeks after CellRev announced a partnership with Saint-Gobain Life Sciences, with the aim of developing a solution to recycle cell culture media. This would help to reduce waste in the industry, bringing down production costs.
“The meta long-term challenge to the cultivated meat industry is cost and of course that’s linked to scale as well,” said Elliot Swartz, principal scientist in cultivated meat at The Good Food Institute. “There are two buckets for cost, one is the cell culture media and the other is infrastructure. Not just buildings, but the equipment in those buildings as well, such as bioreactors.
“We need investors or strategic partners, like large multinational corporations, to take on the funding of these initial scale-up facilities and governments to incentivize the infrastructure as they’ve done in other industries like renewable energy. Building a pilot factory is one thing, but building a full-scale commercial facility that can output thousands of tonnes of product per year is another story.”meat cellular