'Lab Meat' Leader Memphis Meats Announces $17 Million Investment From Bill Gates, Richard Branson - And Meat Industry

The company described supporters as an 'unprecedented coalition'
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The team at food tech company Memphis Meats (Photo: Memphis Meats)

The team at food tech company Memphis Meats (Photo: Memphis Meats)

One of Silicon Valley's pioneers when it comes to cultured meat has announced a massive cash injection from an unlikely group of investors.

Memphis Meats, which has already produced beef, chicken, and duck directly from animal cells, received $17 million in its recent funding round, taking its total funding up to $22 million.

Clean meat - known as lab, bio, or cultured meat - is built using animal cells. Some scientists also use foetal blood plasma harvested from unborn calves (though some brands say they have developed technology to avoid this).

Clean meat is therefore not vegan, though some vegans choose to support the concept, as it has the potential to reduce the number of animals slaughtered for food.

Money

Investors included computer magnate Bill Gates and Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, as well as meat giant Cargill.

New Crop Capital, SOSV, Fifty Years, KBW Ventures,
Inevitable Ventures, Suzy and Jack Welch, Kyle Vogt, and Kimbal Musk also participated. Multiple
research institutions joined the round.

The company described the meat industry's involvement as 'the first public commitment to the clean meat movement by top venture investors or meat industry leaders'. 

WATCH: PBN asks vegans what they think of lab meat

WATCH: PBN asks vegans what they think of lab meat

'Delicious'

A spokesperson for the company said: "Memphis Meats plans to use the funds to continue developing delicious products, to accelerate its work
in scaling up clean meat production, and to reduce production costs to levels comparable to – and
ultimately below – conventional meat costs. 

"The company expects to quadruple its headcount, and has
already begun growing its team of chefs, scientists creative people and business people." 

Affordable

Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, added: "We’re going to bring meat to the plate in a more sustainable, affordable and delicious way.

"The world loves to eat meat, and it is core to
many of our cultures and traditions. Meat demand is growing rapidly around the world. We want the
world to keep eating what it loves. 

"However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates
challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. 

"These are problems that everyone
wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent. This
group will help us accelerate our progress significantly."

 The famous cultured meatball created by the company in February 2016 (Photo: Memphis Meats)

The famous cultured meatball created by the company in February 2016 (Photo: Memphis Meats)

Sustainable

Sonya McCullum Roberts, President of Growth Ventures for Cargill Protein, added: "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.

"Our investment in Memphis Meats is an exciting way for
Cargill to explore the potential in this growing segment of the protein market. 

"Memphis Meats has the
potential to provide our customers and consumers with expanded protein choices and is aligned with
our mission to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way."

'Momentous'

According to Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of the Good Food Institute - an organization that supports the growth of non-animal protein - the investment marks a 'momentous' occasion.

He said: "This is a momentous occasion for anyone who wants to see a food system that is safe, good for the
planet and animals, and completely satisfying to consumers.

"Memphis Meats is doing amazing work to make this vision a reality. 

"We are
excited to welcome a meat industry leader into the fold, and I believe they have enormous potential to
support and accelerate this work. For animal welfare and environmental advocates, today is a huge step
forward."

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