Chinese cell-based meat company CellX has raised $10.6 million in a Series A round, increasing its total funding to over $15 million and becoming the highest-funded cultured meat company in China.
With this injection of money, the start-up hopes to develop its production technologies to prepare it for mass-scale production, working specifically on its cell lines, bioprocesses and growth media to improve its final products. The funds will also be used to drive recruitment.
The CEO of CellX, Yang Ziliang, said: “”Cultivated meat has by far the largest market with the most carbon reduction promises within cellular agriculture, and it is also CellX’s current focus. We started with [pork] and have quickly expanded to beef and poultry.
“For cultivated meat products, CellX has a multi-species approach and is focusing on developing R&D platforms across the four major technologies – cell line, media, bioprocess, and end product.
“This new round of funds will be used to expand and optimize their platform technologies in order to create a production system that is safe, consistent, and with the potential for large-scale production at a low cost.”
Three months later, the company now hopes to be the first to launch a range of cultured meat in the country, which would include beef, pork, and poultry.
The latest investment round was led by returning supporters Better Bite Ventures, Lever VC, and Agronomics, and new investors SALT, and Joyvio.
Alternative protein production is a sharp focus in China right now. Earlier this month, the country published its Five-Year Plan for Bioeconomy Development, calling on the nation to “develop synthetic biology technology, explore and develop new foods such as ‘synthetic protein,’ realise iterative upgrading of the food industry, and reduce the pressure on environmental resources brought about by conventional animal agriculture.”
“Cellular agriculture uses next-generation technologies to create new proteins and new materials in a more sustainable way,” Ziliang said in a statement. “Compared to traditional animal agriculture, cellular agriculture uses significantly fewer resources and emits less carbon.”
CellX started creating its cultured meat products in 2020 and showcased its prototype products for the first time in Shanghai on September 3, 2021. These included deep-fried parcels with cultivated minced pork, pork chunks, meat strips and 3D bioprinted salmon pieces.
The start-up is the first in China to show an application of biological scaffolds technology to cultured meat production.
In recent months, the company has partnered with the Chinese research institutions East China University of Science and Technology and Zhejiang University to help it develop its technologies.
In April 2022 CellX also partnered with the German cultivated fish start-up Bluu Seafood to support one another along the value chain, by sourcing raw materials, explore sales partnerships and building regional production facilities.
Other major investments have been made in the cultured meat sector globally, including in Israel, where the company Future Meat raised $347 million – the largest investment in the country’s start-up industry so far.