Multus Biotechnology set to build “world’s first” growth media production plant after netting new investment
19 Jan 2023 --- Multus Biotechnology has announced the close of a Series A funding round which has ended with the start-up receiving US$9.5 million. Multus, which produces ingredients for affordable cellular agriculture scaleup, will use the investment to build a UK-based production plant to produce growth media at commercial scale.
“The investment will allow Multus to build a world-first production plant in the UK to accelerate the cultivated meat industry toward price parity with affordable food-safe growth media at commercial scale,” Cai Linton, CEO of Multus, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“It will also accelerate product development in advanced growth media formulations and food-grade raw materials over the next 18 months.”
This investment round was led by Mandi Ventures, with key investors including SOSV, Big Idea Ventures, SynBioVen and Asahi Kasei Corp. Linton outlines how Multus will use the investment to expand its capabilities.
“We are investing in a state-of-the-art growth media screening platform combining data science and automation to screen our library of non-conventional growth media ingredients to unlock affordable, high-performance growth media formulations that scale. The funding will also be used to build out our commercial and production teams as we bring several new products and services to market.”
The financial benefits of producing cultivated meat match the environmental and wellness benefits, says Linton.
“While cultivated meat promises to benefit human and planetary health, there is also a significant financial opportunity. The cultivated meat market is projected to reach up to US$140 billion by 2030, according to AT Kearney,” explains Linton.
“Our goal is to make cultivated meat the affordable and sustainable choice for everyone. There is no silver bullet in growth media. Every aspect, from amino acids and growth factors to formulation optimization and manufacturing, is considered in our interdisciplinary approach.”
“The cellular agriculture industry has the opportunity to make animals redundant in the production of meat, leather, dairy and more,” he concludes.
Linton continues, outlining the critical elements produced by Multus and the process involved in generating them.
“The key ingredients in growth media are growth factors and basal nutrients. With growth factors, similar proteins are already produced at a much larger scale and lower price point than we will ever need in the cellular agriculture industry by companies in the industrial enzyme industry,” he explains.
“The difficulty with growth factors is that they inherently have a short half-life due to their function as cell-to-cell signaling molecules in dynamic systems, such as humans or animals. When the system is stable, as it is in a large bioreactor, the rapid degradation of growth factors creates an expensive problem.”
Multus found a solution to this issue by leveraging scalable precision fermentation technology, says Linton.
“Therefore, we decided to utilize readily scalable and affordable technology in precision fermentation and focus our innovation in computational protein design to create biodesigned growth factors with enhanced potency and prolonged activity,” he explains.
Linton outlines other areas within this space in which Multus will invest.
“Another area we are investing heavily in is nutrient-rich plant-derived ingredients that are food-safe, affordable and scalable using well-established food-manufacturing practices,” he says.
“These complex ingredients allow us to design high-performance growth media for various cultivated meat-relevant cell types with no animal serum and a clear route to scale.”
Linton outlines the trend of relationships developing between cultivated meat producers and specialist solution providers.
“Developing growth media internally is complex, expensive and time-consuming. As such, we are already seeing a trend across the industry of companies leveraging partnerships with specialist solution providers to reduce the cost and timeline of delivery,” he illustrates.
“For example, by getting access to Multus’ novel ingredients and screening capabilities, companies don’t have to invest in their own growth media R&D and can instead leverage our food-safe production capabilities.”
For Linton, these relationships make good business sense.
“Particularly in the current macroeconomic environment, cultivated meat companies transitioning to commercial production with several products in development are under increasing pressure to differentiate their product offerings and allocate resources to consumer requirements such as taste and texture. Outsourcing growth media will reduce their time to market and increase differentiation,” he concludes.
Cultivated meat production is gaining momentum, with Believer Meats publishing its process in Nature Foods just after breaking ground on what will become the largest cultivated meat factory in the world. Project Eaden managed to net funding towards development of its ultra-realistic cultivated meat steak, and the world’s first cultivated meat butchery debuted cell-based cuts from Just Eat’s cultivated meat division Good Meat.
By James Davies
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