Enabling competitive prices for high quality cultivated meat
Multus Media is one of our 2019 award winning participants. They didn’t lose any momentum and aim to have their first product ready by autumn 2020. What they do? They enable the cultivated meat industry to flourish by developing next generation low-cost growth media for animal cells. In short: they bring down the cost for high quality clean meat, so it can compete in the supermarket. They are on a mission to accelerate the forefront of an industry that will replace the devastating impacts of livestock agriculture.
Solid business case: high quality, affordable & sustainable
“After ClimateLaunchpad we got accepted into the IndieBio Accelerator, that came with $250,000 investment.”
We talked to co-founder Reka Tron about their entrepreneurial adventures since last year’s Global Grand Final. She explains a bit about the technology behind their business: “We use a proprietary machine learning platform to optimise a variety of growth factor proteins to meet the requirements for growing different animal cell types and tissues at scale. Taking a data-led approach we design animal-free growth media that is tailored for different cell types. The best part about our product? It is affordable, high-quality and sustainable.”
“The most powerful way to reduce climate change is to cut meat consumption.”
Reka continues: “It all got started when we met through synthetic biology society. As scientists and engineers, we shared the same belief: the single most powerful way to reduce climate change is cutting meat consumption. As the vegetarian and vegan trend is not gaining traction quickly enough, we need cultivated meat to really make a difference. Funding was available for an open lab at the university and we jumped at the opportunity to start working on our ideas.”
Switching to cultivated meat
“To be clear, we don’t grow meat ourselves, our business model is to provide the cultivated meat industry with an affordable, high quality growth medium. To have a single cell grow into meat, you need a growth medium. It’s a liquid with the right mix of vitamins and proteins, that you can bath the meat in to make it grow. We are improving our product, molecularly you get the meat that is exactly the same and it tastes exactly the same. But structure is still a big challenge for the industry, so unstructured meat is going to be first to really hit the markets. Our aim is to bring down the price of clean meat to compete with traditional meat. Currently, the production of cultivated meat is still very expensive, and growth media determines 80% of the production costs. The current price is about €100 per litre. We found a way to reduce that with a very large percentage, getting it very close to being able to compete with regular meat.”
Livestock agriculture is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions (which is more than the entire transportation sector). Cultivated meat brings an 87% reduction in CHG (CO2eq) emissions, along with a 96% reduction in fresh water use. And an astonishing 99% drop in land use to produce the same amount of meat.
It has only been half a year since Multus Media rocked the stage during our 2019 Global Grand Final in Amsterdam, but a lot has happened for them. Despite the COVID-19 crisis they have been able to meet all their milestones. Things have been moving so fast that they are now in contact with potential first clients, while at the same time still figuring out their go-to-market strategy. They expect to have their first product Prolifirm-M ready by September. Interested parties can already sign up for a sample. A seed investment round will open up in October.
“Another exciting thing that happened was that we got accepted into the IndieBio Program. Nine teams were chosen and it came with a $250.000 investment. It is the largest biotech accelerator in the world. At first it looked like we would not be able to join, as it is based in New York. But the entire program was brought online, which made it possible for us to accept the invitation.”
The current crisis did not slow the team down: “We were lucky to have just moved into our own lab facilities in February, just weeks before the lockdown. We have a separate entrance and it is just two or three people working there. We did have to close for 2 weeks, but were able to continue the work after that.”
“We are developing a cheap, animal-free and sustainable culture media that will accelerate the fight against climate change.”
“It has been an amazing journey so far. One of the ClimateLaunchpad awards was getting into the follow-up ClimateLaunchpad Accelerator. That kicked off a month ago with a 3-day intense online training module.
We accelerated so much already. We acquired so much new knowledge and skills. About how to set up and run a business, how to operate as sustainably as possible. We even got an accountant. We have our own lab now, we just hired our first employee and have been able to pay ourselves a salary for the first time this July. We are truly becoming a real business.”
“It has been an amazing journey so far.”
Doing a start-up of course is not all fun and play. Reka: “Believe me, there are lots of struggles, you work constantly. But I really enjoy it, I love what I do. It is somewhat hard on the people around me though. Family and friends have to put up with me working all the time. But the journey is exciting, I get to learn a lot about a lot of things.”
“Joining ClimateLaunchpad really gave us global attention and traction. We got access to a network of impact-focused journalists. A lot of people showed their interest in what we are doing. As it is a global competition, supported by EIT, it is a perfect way to show how great your team is. We loved the experience and the training during the Boot camps helped us explore questions which we didn’t think of before.”