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Korea’s Seawith, developer of cultivated beef, has announced a ₩1 billion investment from Mint Venture Partners. It follows previous backing from Hg Initiative, Daesung Startup Investment and Daily Partners.
Founded in 2019, Seawith has made fast progress. The company claims it will be in a position to make cultivated steak for $3 per kilogram, by the end of the decade. Initial meat products are slated for launch by the end of this year, as part of the startup’s Welldone brand.
Ready to scale
Seawith uses seaweed-based cell culture mediums and scaffolds to create its beef products. This has allowed for reduced production costs straight off the bat, making commercial sale viable as soon as it is legal. Last year it was reported that the company had ambitions to bring fully realised cultivated meat to consumers in 2022, pending regulatory approval.
Plans for investment raised include the purchase of a large bioreactor that will facilitate scaled industrialisation. Registrations, certifications, and other approval-specific red tape is earmarked for any capital remaining. If Korea proves slow to accept cultivated meat, Singapore is being eyed as a potential launchpad. The 2022 deadline for release looks firm in Seawith’s mind, meaning international reach might come ahead of domestic.
The new ₩1 billion investment from Mint Venture Partners will help Seawith continue to scale its operation. “Seawith has developed a key technology that is important for commercialization of cultured meat,” Lee Hee-jae, Seawith CTO said in a statement. “Many foreign protein alternative food development companies are also interested in our technology; we are preparing for cooperative research and development with them now. We will focus on investing in production facilities and commercialization so that engineering technology using marine plants can be used for the environment and life.”
Recognition for innovation
December 2021 saw Seawith celebrated for its innovative use of marine resources. It was declared the fourth ‘National representative of 1000 Innovative Companies’ by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. This is the latest external accolade, following previous recognition for technological excellence that claimed top prize in a Ministry of Science and ICT contest.
Korea’s rising stars
Space F, hailing from South Korea, just announced a breakthrough. Having successfully developed cultivated pork alongside Sejong University last year, the company has now debuted chicken and beef. The startup claims to have improved on its initial pork offering as well, by reducing scaffolding and better replicating the fibrosity of conventional meat. Space F is looking to 2025 as a potential launch year for commercial products.
Seoul-based DaNAgreen revealed last year that it was starting as it meant to go on. Its 3D scaffolding for cultivated meat offers an affordable alternative to other freely-used alternatives. Dubbed Protinet, the startup claimed that it paves the way for commercial scale meat production, as and when the market is ready. It is not looking to stop with scaffolding, however. DaNAgreen intends to become a go-to source for all main components of cultivated meat manufacture. This will span harvested animal cells to growth mediums and bioreactors.
CellMEAT is leading Korea’s cultivated seafood sector. Its successful recreation of Dokdo shrimp last year, coupled with release of an ethical cell culture media, ahead of others that claimed to be the first, has made it a name to watch.