London-based biotech startup Hoxton Farms has raised £2.7 million (approx. US$3.75 million) in a seed funding round for its cultivated fat technology. Using cell biology and mathematical modelling, the company grows a slaughter-free and sustainable “better kind of fat” directly from animal cells in bioreactors. Hoxton Farms says their cultivated fat ingredients will help elevate the sensory and functional properties of alternative proteins.
Hoxton Farms has announced a £2.7 million (approx. US$3.75 million) seed funding round led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm Founders Fund created by Peter Thiel, with participation from Backed, Presight Capital, CPT Capital and the dedicated alternative protein rolling fund on AngelList, Sustainable Food Ventures (SFV). Several angel investors also joined the seed round.
The London-headquartered biotech says that the capital will go towards expanding its interdisciplinary science team in their new lab in Hoxton, where it will continue developing its cultivated animal fat production platform.
Our mathematical approach drives everything we do at Hoxton Farms. We simulate the entire process computationally, from biopsy to bacon.Ed Steele, Co-Founder, Hoxton Farms
It plans to use its proprietary computational models to reduce the cost of manufacturing its purified animal fat in bioreactors, with the aim of building customer partnerships to supply its product to the alternative protein industry, starting with plant-based meat firms who are looking for better-tasting alternatives to plant oils.
“Our mathematical approach drives everything we do at Hoxton Farms. We simulate the entire process computationally, from biopsy to bacon. This “digital twin” allows us to optimise every raw input in parallel, massively improving the cost-efficiency and performance of our cultivated fat for our customers,” explained Ed Steele, co-founder of Hoxton Farms.
Hoxton Farms’ technology is aimed squarely at solving the challenge of finding low-cost, effective yet sustainable alternatives to traditional animal fat – often described as the crucial ingredient in meat that gives the sensory experience that consumers crave. Cultivated animal fat, which is grown directly from the cells of animals, would also offer the functional textural, cooking qualities and appearance that alternative proteins producers have struggled to replicate using plant-based oils and fats.
Cultivated fat is the hero ingredient for meat alternatives, and it will solve a huge problem in this growing industry. We believe the future of meat alternatives will be a blend of plant-based protein and cultivated fat.Dr. Max Jamilly, Co-Founder, Hoxton Farms
“We want to bring back fat: it’s the single most important ingredient in the meat that we eat. The technology we’re developing will allow us to customise fat for any application – and we’re making it healthier too,” said Dr. Max Jamilly, co-founder of Hoxton Farms.
“Cultivated fat is the hero ingredient for meat alternatives, and it will solve a huge problem in this growing industry. We believe the future of meat alternatives will be a blend of plant-based protein and cultivated fat.”
Commenting on the decision to back Hoxton Farms, Eric Scott, principal at leading investor Founders Fund, said: “The market for plant-based meat has exploded in recent years, especially during the pandemic. But plant-based meat has a long way to go – and that’s because it’s missing out on real cell-based animal fat.”
“The team’s ability to tailor the precise sensory and functional properties of fat allows them to produce exactly what their customers need. Hoxton Farms has the potential to change an industry,” Scott continued.
Plant-based meat has a long way to go – and that’s because it’s missing out on real cell-based animal fat.Eric Scott, Principal, Founders Fund
While the number of startups educated to offering solutions to animal fats remains small, Hoxton Farms is by no means alone. Belgian B2B startup Peace of Meat, for instance, produces cultivated fat and texturing ingredients and has recently been bought out by Israeli cultured meat firm Meat-Tech 3D as part of its commercialisation strategy to launch hybrid alternative meats made from both plant and cell-based ingredients on the market.
Another food tech, Cubiq Foods, based in Barcelona, is creating cell-based fats that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. According to some reports, Cubiq Foods are already in talks with cultivated companies such as Mosa Meat for a potential collaboration.
Motif FoodWorks, on the other hand, are aiming to create a plant-based fat that has the attributes of animal-derived fats, which will help elevate the taste, texture and appearance of vegan meat and dairy alternatives.
Lead image courtesy of Hoxton Farms.