Manchester-based foodtech start-up Bright Biotech has raised $3.2M (around £2.6M) in an oversubscribed funding round led by FoodLabs.
The money raised will go towards further development of its plant-based growth factor technology, which the company says can help significantly reduce the cost of producing cultured meat.
One of the biggest obstacles in the race to commercialise lab-grown meat is its expense. Growth factors, necessary proteins that promote cell differentiation, growth and proliferation, usually make up at least 55% of the cost of producing cultivated meat.
To make its proteins, Bright Biotech relies on chloroplasts found in plants – the protein-rich part of plant cells which help turn sunlight into oxygen.
Plants are selectively bred on a large scale, and the chloroplasts are extracted from the harvested leaves once they have reached maturity. From the collected chloroplasts, proteins are then separated and purified, ready for use within growth factors.
Bright Biotech says this technology is inherently sustainable, because the process for deriving proteins is light-driven, as well as animal-and microbial-free. Additionally, it says it is highly scalable.
For cultured meat to truly compete with its traditionally reared counterpart, Bright Biotech predicts up to three tonnes of various growth factors will have to be produced annually for any one company.
The race is on to find more sustainable and cost effective growth factors – Bright Biotech is one of several companies working in the field.
Israeli start-up BioBetter is working to produce growth factors using tobacco plants, while 3D Bio-Tissues Limited recently won recognition in the EIT and GFI-run Cultivated Meat Challenge for its animal-free growth serum.
Beyond FoodLabs, other investors in the funding round included CPT Capital, Big Idea Ventures, the FoodHack syndicate and other business angels.
“With the fresh funding and our growing team of experienced scientists and production experts we are set for rapid commercialisation,” Mohammad El Hajj, Co-Founder and CEO of Bright Biotech said.
“Our technology is very timely for the cultivated meat industry, and we are thrilled to be working with our partners and investors to have the first products from our robust, ultra-scalable and sustainable technology available on the market in 2023.”
Christian Guba, Senior Associate at FoodLabs, added: “Bright Biotech’s approach to harnessing chloroplasts for manufacturing growth factors in plants can be a game changer for the cultivated meat industry and will be a key enabler to achieve price parity.
“Mohammad and his team have impressed us not only with their deep expertise but also with a pace and progress rarely seen in terms of getting to market. We are very excited to support them in building a global champion.”