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Good Food Institute and EIT reveal winners of the Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge

young woman with glasses smiling
3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Cell cultured lab grown meat concept for artificial in vitro production with packed raw minced meat on side of red background

The Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe and EIT Food have named the winners of the Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge, set up to bring down the cost of producing cultured meat.

Launched earlier this year, the competition promised to award four organisations from around Europe €100,000 each for projects that could make cell culture media more affordable. Growth media is an essential part of growing cell to create cultivated meat, but its high cost ­is one of the major hurdles preventing companies producing it at a commercial scale.

Foetal bovine serum (FBS) for instance, a growth factor (GF) originally used by many companies, is not only harmful to animals but can cost more than £1,000 per litre.

While many developers of cultivated meat are swapping to animal-free cell culture media, according to a GFI report from 2020, their price is still high, costing around $377 (£300) per litre.

GFI Europe and EIT Food have selected four winners of the challenge, which they believe show promise in bringing down the cost of cultivated meat GFs:

  • Israeli start-up BioBetter, which develops cell growth media for cultivated meat production using tobacco plants.
  • Portuguese research organisation S2AQUAcoLAB, which is researching how microalgae can be used to produce the ingredients needed for cultivating seafood.
  • Düsseldorf-based biotech company LenioBio, which will use its technology to produce proteins at a fast pace by stripping material from rapidly-growing plant cells. It will partner with food producing giant Kerry Group to determine how the tech can be used to develop growth media for use in the production of cultivated meat.
  • British 3D-Bio Tissues Ltd (3DBT), which started in 2019 as a spin-off at Newcastle University, now develops a FBS-free serum for culturing fat and muscle cells, and was recently acquired by BSF Enterprise. The company will team up with the donor-funded cellular agriculture research institute New Harvest to combine 3DBT’s product with growth factors produced by Cambridge-based QKine to reduce the amount of growth media needed to produce cultured meat.

On top of the prize money, the teams will be supported by GFI and EIT Food to get their ideas to market.

Seren Kell, Science and Technology Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “It’s fascinating to see the sheer diversity of these ideas and the wide range of organisations that have come forward to crack one of the biggest challenges preventing cultivated meat from becoming affordable to all.

“These teams now have a huge opportunity to drive prices down, and their work could have a major impact on how quickly we can scale up production – potentially slashing the carbon emissions of our food system while satisfying rising global demand for meat.”


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