SCiFi Foods Hits Major Milestone in the Cultivated Meat Race to Price Parity

SAN FRANCISCO – Bay Area-based food tech startup, SCiFi Foods, which officially emerged from stealth just last month, has publicly announced its first major R&D milestone today. The company, which focuses on the development and growth of cultured beef cells, has achieved a massive breakthrough by becoming the first organization in the world to announce edible beef cell lines that grow in single-cell suspension. This not only validates SCiFi Foods’ cell line engineering strategy and platform, but also allows the company to reduce the cost of growing its beef cells at scale by at least one thousand times—the biggest zero to one in cultivated meat.

Without single-cell suspension, companies must attempt to grow their cells adherently (attached to a surface), or using microcarriers. With microcarriers, cells are cultured on the surface of tiny plastic beads. While this enables adherent cells to be grown in bioreactors, it is more expensive, limits the cell density that can be achieved, and has never been demonstrated at large scale. With single-cell suspension, cells can be grown in standard large-scale bioreactors, enabling major economies of scale in established hardware.

Prior to this, organizations have achieved single-cell suspension in chicken and fish cell lines. Beef has been attempted by a number of companies in the space, but it has proven challenging to cross the difficult technical hurdles required to achieve single cell suspension for bovine cells, until this recent breakthrough by SCiFi Foods. Now, with a proprietary combination of CRISPR technology, as well as with its high-throughput cell line engineering platform, SCiFi Foods has developed truly scalable cell lines. This landmark achievement unlocks a 1000x price decrease to produce their cultivated beef at scale compared to growing adherent cells—a landmark milestone for the entire space.

SCiFi Foods is now projecting that it will be able to produce its blended plant-based and cultivated meat burgers for under $10 a burger in its upcoming pilot facility, and is forecasting that it will be able to decrease this to $1 a burger in the first large-scale production plant—an unprecedented feat. R&D efforts have been led by CTO and co-founder, Kasia Gora, PhD., a scientist with a decade’s worth of prior experience in the synthetic biology space, most recently at Bay Area’s Zymergen.

Gora expressed her excitement around the breakthrough, “Cultivated meat has the potential to disrupt the trillion dollar meat market and help build a more sustainable future, but cost has always been its biggest challenge. With this milestone, we’ve proven that potential is realistic with our ability to engineer beef cells that grow at low cost and large volumes.” She continued, “a decade ago, when the first lab-grown burger debuted in the press, it seemed like a pipedream. So we are proud to be taking a major leap towards making cultivated meat a reality for everybody.”

The company, whose lab and headquarters are based in San Leandro, will first be releasing a blended plant-based and cell-based meat burger, although no official launch date has been announced. However, it is likely this recent development will move any go-to-market date up—drastically.

“We’ve known from day one that by opting to work on cultivated beef, we were choosing a much bigger challenge in terms of the science and technology required,” said CEO and co-founder, Joshua March. He continued, “however, beef is the ultimate prize—with both the biggest market demand and the biggest climate impact. This breakthrough illustrates the power of our bioengineering strategy, and is a huge testament to our team and the platform they’ve built.”

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About SCiFi Foods:

SCiFi Foods is working to be the first in the world to bring cultivated beef to market. Already, it has successfully grown cells in suspension, which at scale will reduce their cost of production by 1000x—a massive milestone. The company will first launch a blended plant-based and cell-based meat burger with a drastically realistic, meaty taste. SCiFi Foods leverages cutting-edge bioengineering technologies, such as CRISPR, to solve the primary obstacles currently keeping cultivated meat from reaching price parity with conventional meat. It was co-founded by CEO Joshua March, who previously co-founded and led both Conversocial and iPlatform, and CTO Kasia Gora, PhD., who, while at Zymergen, pioneered a high-throughput approach to engineering cells. To date, it has raised $29M from leading investors including Andreesseen Horowitz, Valor Siren Ventures, BoxGroup, Entree Capital, and Prelude Ventures, amongst others.