Lab-made meat startup SuperMeat raises $3M seed to develop ‘clean’ chicken


by Steve O'Hear, TechCrunch

Jan 2, 2017


SuperMeat, an Israeli biotech and food-tech startup that is developing lab-made chicken meat, has raised $3 million in seed funding, as it becomes the latest of a crop of so-called ‘clean meat’ companies to get off the ground. Others in the space include Bill Gates, Atomico and DFJ-backed Memphis Meats, and Hampton Creek, which is also exploring lab-grown meat.


Backing SuperMeat are U.S.-based venture capital fund New Crop Capital, and “mission-oriented” VC firm Stray Dog Capital, in addition to strategic investment from PHW, one of Europe’s largest poultry producers. The latter signals less disruption and more transformation, SuperMeat CEO and co-founder Ido Savir told me in a call last week.


Savir, who has been an ethical vegan for the past 20 years, says that PHW’s investment is proof that the food industry is ready to embrace new technology, specifically in enabling food production to further scale and in a more sustainable way.


That’s the longterm, though not yet realised, promise of ‘clean meat,’ which is produced in a lab by growing real animal cells. In SuperMeat’s case, those extracted from a chicken. Put over simply, the process involves feeding the cells the correct nutrients to produce muscle and fat, as would ordinarily happen were they grown inside an animal’s body.


If lab-made meat could replace the need to rear (and slaughter) animals, it would be hugely beneficial in reducing the environmental impact that industrial farming has, as well as reducing the spread of food-borne illnesses. “The potential benefits for public health and animal welfare are considerable,” says the SuperMeat CEO. I agree, pointing out that the widespread use of antibiotics in farming is frightening, especially in light of fast-developing antibiotic resistance.


The company also cites research conducted by Oxford and Amsterdam Universities that says switching to clean meat will...


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