Hong Kong-headquartered cell-based marine protein startup Avant Meats has announced a strategic partnership with Guangdong-based biotech firm QuaCell, which will enable a 90% production cost reduction. With more cost-efficient production, Avant says its scale-up plans will be pushed forward by “at least 12 months”, as the company continues to work towards commercialising its cell-based seafood products.
Partnering up with Chinese biotech QuaCell, Hong Kong’s cultivated seafood startup Avant Meats will be able to reduce its costs by 90%, the company announced on Monday (March 8). The collaboration will see Avant’s cell cultivation technology platform used in the 7,000 metre-squared bioreactor-equipped facilities operated by QuaCell in China to supply FDA-compliant customers around the world.
After reducing costs by 90% using Avant Meat’s FBS-free cell culture media, the two firms will target an additional cost cut of 75% from current levels. Much of the savings will come from converting ingredients from pharmaceutical grade to food grade, and optimising Avant’s formula for QuaCell’s large-scale bioreactors, which have a capacity of up to 2,000 litres.
“Optimising serum-free media formula to a food grade environment contributes vastly to scaling up, which is an important step to industrialising our patent-pending cell cultivation technologies,” explained Dr. Mario Chin, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Avant Meats.
The race for cost reduction amongst cultivated meats companies has entered a new phase. With this partnership, we can leapfrog into a larger scale sooner and can make a better CapEx plan ahead.Carrie Chan, Co-Founder & CEO, Avant Meats
Avant Meats added that the new strategic partnership will accelerate its scale-up plans by “at least 12 months” – shortening the timeline for the startup to take its range of cell-based proteins to market. In February, the startup entered the skincare industry, introducing a cultivated bioactive functional protein that contains marine protein peptides, offering an animal-free alternative to common anti-aging compounds such as collagen.
Avant has previously debuted several prototypes of cultivated seafood, including the regionally prized delicacy, fish maw, as well as Asia’s first-ever cultured fish fillet in a recent cooking demonstration led by prominent Hong Kong Chef Eddy.
Commenting on its latest feat, co-founder and CEO of Avant, Carrie Chan, said: “The race for cost reduction amongst cultivated meats companies has entered a new phase. With this partnership, we can leapfrog into a larger scale sooner and can make a better CapEx plan ahead.”
Optimising serum-free media formula to a food grade environment contributes vastly to scaling up, which is an important step to industrialising our patent-pending cell cultivation technologies.Dr. Mario Chin, Co-Founder & CSO, Avant Meats
“We are excited about this partnership to work with Avant to accelerate commercialisation of cell-cultivated animal protein leveraging on our infrastructure,” added QuaCell co-founder and CEO Fai Poon.
It’s not the only collaboration that Avant has forged in recent months, with the startup having recently formed a strategic partnership with Vinh Hoan Corporation (VHC), the world’s largest pangasius fish producer based in Vietnam.
The partnership will see Avant Meats leverage VHC’s global sales network and manufacturing capabilities, with the view to accelerate the go-to-market strategy of its cultured fish products – the timeline for which has been set for 2021, Avant previously said after it bagged US$3.1 million in a seed round in December 2020.
Lead image courtesy of Avant Meats / Chester Ong via Reuters.