World’s Billionaires Back US Synthetic Meat Startup Raising $17M

San Francisco-based synthetic meat company Memphis Meats has raised a $17 million Series A round from business tycoons like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and others.

In addition to the billionaire investors, the company, which produces lab-grown meat directly from animal cells, announced it had been backed by a number of venture capital firms and leading agricultural companies like Cargill Inc.

The company produces beef, chicken and duck from animal cells, “without the need to raise and slaughter animals”.

The funding round was led by by venture capital company DFJ, which had previously invested in Tesla, SpaceX and Skype.

With the new investment, the total funding the company has raised to date has reached $22 million.

The company plans to use the proceeds to increase production and cut costs ”to levels comparable to – and ultimately below – conventional meat costs”.

After the investment, Richard Branson made bold predictions about the future of the so called “clean meat” movement.

I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone”, said he quoted by Bloomberg.

The world loves to eat meat, and it is core to many of our cultures and traditions. Meat demand is growing rapidly around the world”, says Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats”. “However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. These are problems that everyone wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent.”

Carolina Brochado, partner at London, UK- based investment company Atomico, also talked about the resource-intense nature of meat production. Atomico, also part of the investment pool backing Memphis Meats, was founded by Skype’s founder Niklas Zennström.

Meat production today uses one third of Earth’s fresh water and land surface and generates nearly one fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions”, Brochado said. “With a projected demand growing by nearly 70% by 2050, we know we are in desperate need of a solution”.

At the beginning of 2016, Memphis Meats claimed to have released the world’s first clean meatball:

“Cultured meat”, “synthetic meat”, “lab-grown meat” or “clean meat” have been used interchangeably to denote tissue engineered meat grown inside of a cell, as opposed of a living animal.

The first trials were carried out a few years ago witch technology improving and costs decreasing exponentially in the past three years. The innovations have been encouraged by various initiatives on the part of governmental institutions and advocate groups. Only in the past year or so, have they become relatively more commercially acceptable in terms of price, taste and wider perception.