Memphis Meats raises $17 million to advance lab-grown meat

Memphis Meats

Memphis Meats

Tallying US$17 million, the "clean" meat company said the round, led by American venture capital firm DFJ, included billionaire investors Bill Gates and Richard Branson as well as privately-held food giant Cargill and other industry players.

Venture capital firm DFJ led the round, which also included USA agri-food group Cargill, European venture-capital firm Atomico, two U.S. venture-capital funds - SOSV and Fifty Years - plus United States businessman Kimbal Musk also invested. Multiple research institutions joined the round.

Memphis Meats premiered the first cultured meatball past year and and has since grown chicken and duck in the lab using only animal cells. The latter, in particular, has backed a number of alternative-protein companies over the past five years, including Hampton Creek and Impossible Foods.

Uma Valeti, the company's co-founder and CEO, said the prominent new group of investors will help Memphis Meat accelerate its development as it works to ideal its processes and lower costs for its lab-grown meat. "These are problems that everyone wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent", explained Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats.

"We're going to bring meat to the plate in a more sustainable, affordable and delicious way ... the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare, and human health".

Our global focus on producing cheap meat, dairy, and other animal products has put the planet in an incredibly hard spot. The company says it harvests meat cells from animals and then grows them under laboratory conditions. "This group will help us accelerate our progress significantly".

To date, Memphis Meats has raised $22 million, signaling a commitment to the "clean-meat movement", the company said.

"We are committed to growing our traditional protein business and investing in innovative new proteins to ultimately provide a complete basket of goods to our customers", said Sonya McCullum Roberts, president of growth ventures for Cargill Protein, in a statement.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at investor DFJ, said: "Clean meat is an enormous technological shift for humanity, and an opportunity to invest in something so important does not come along often". While it hasn't released any products yet, Memphis Meats has already made meat balls, hamburgers, and even duck from its lab kitchen.

Memphis Meats contends that their new kind of protein is better for the environment than the typical feedlot-slaughterhouse scheme.

While some of the companies in the space -such as Memphis Meats - are trying to replicate meat cells, others have pursued a path to replicate the taste of meat with plants.

One sure-fire way of fixing real-world problems is to promise profits to any venture willing to come up with a viable and scalable solution - this applies to green energy companies and, indeed, lab-grown food firms such as Memphis Meats.

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