This week, Israel-based biotechnology startup Aleph Farms announced that it has raised $12 million in investment capital. The Series A funding round was led by VisVires New Protein (an investment firm focused on funding disruptive technologies) with participation from Cargill Foods—the world’s third largest meat company behind Tyson Foods and JBS. Aleph Farms specializes in using 3D-technology to create slaughter-free meat similar to a “minute steak” from a small amount of animal cells in a lab setting. Jon Nash, President of Cargill Protein-North America, explained that the investment is an important move to feed a growing world population sustainably. “We all need to work together to address the increasing global need for protein in the coming years, especially as more consumers move into the middle-class and the demand for protein increases,” Nash said. “We have a responsibility to look at all innovations that can help us feed the world.” According to Bruce Friedrich, executive director of nonprofit Good Food Institute, the company’s investment round puts it in the top three highest-funded cell-based companies behind California-based Memphis Meats and Spanish startup CUBIQ Foods, which have raised $22 million and $14 million in capital, respectively. “Cell-based meats have the potential to transform how the world eats, delivering consumers real meat with far fewer costs,” Friedrich said. “Because cell-based meat is so much more efficient, the products will be less expensive at scale. This is an immense investment opportunity.” Since 2015, the emerging cell-based industry has attracted more than $73 million in investment capital, a number Friedrich predicts will grow exponentially once startups come closer to commercialization. “These mutually beneficial partnerships between entrepreneurs and big meat companies enable meat companies to diversify their portfolios and offer more options to consumers, while cell-based meat companies are able to benefit from meat science expertise, distribution networks, and production infrastructure,” Friedrich said. As the cell-based industry develops, the plant-based meat sector continues to attract substantial investment interest, raising more than $16 billion in the last decade—with $13 billion raised in 2017 and 2018, alone.
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