New Institute of Cellular Agriculture to Support Startups in the Cultivated Meat Industry

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A new strategic partnership between investment platform Cult Food Science, the University of Alberta, and New Harvest Canada, aims to provide support for startups in the cellular agriculture industry.

Based at the University of Alberta’s Agri-Food Discovery Place, the Institute of Cellular Agriculture’s goal is to provide space and support for “new startups, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and product development” in the emergent sector.

“We are at the horizon of an explosion of new ideas and ventures that will accelerate the global cellular agriculture industry,” Lejjy Gafour, CEO of Cult Food Science, said in a statement. “We are excited to be able to accelerate the launch and development of new ventures and ideas from individual founders, to supporting classic enterprises who want to adopt cellular agriculture as part of their strategy with our support.”

Cult Food announced another strategic partnership last year, joining forces with Singapore’s Umami Meats as part of a Seed funding round.

A ‘pivotal stage’

Isha Datar, Executive Director of New Harvest, says cellular agriculture is at “a pivotal stage” and needs the proper infrastructure to allow the co-creation of innovation to deliver on its promises.

The range of cultivated fish from Umami Meats
The range of cultivated fish from Umami Meats | Courtesy

“Canada, and Edmonton, Alberta in particular, can provide the optimal environment to support cross-disciplinary collaboration, and advance our research in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,” Datar said. “This new partnership will leverage the University of Alberta’s legacy in bioprocess engineering to bring novel technologies and innovations to the Canadian agri-food sector.”

Positioning the Institute at the University of Alberta allows companies working on cellular agriculture products, such as cultivated meat, access to research and innovation through the university’s broad network. It also helps to accelerate the advancement of experts in the space, providing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

“This partnership with New Harvest Canada and its innovation partners will be pivotal in how our research and teaching addresses climate change, industry sustainability, and food security issues” said Dr. Heather Bruce, Chair of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta. “New Harvest Canada and Cult Food Science will join a nexus of startup companies at the U of A’s Agri-Food Discovery Place that is launching agriculture and food production into the 21st century.” 

Prepping for approval

The move comes as the industry is poised to enter the mainstream. Cultivated meat in the U.S. got its first victory in November when Upside Foods earned GRAS status from the FDA for its cultivated chicken.

Upside Foods’ EPIC factory, Courtesy

Upside is also one of a growing number of cultivated meat producers with large-scale factories ready to go live once they receive regulatory approval. Upside operates a 53,000 square-foot California factory that it says can produce 400,000 pounds of cultivated meat a year.

The industry is also formalizing efforts around the naming convention for cultivated meat in order to smooth regulatory processes and appeal to consumers. A recent study found some cultivated meat terms including ‘lab-grown’ and ‘artificial’ to be off-putting.


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