Lab-grown meat has received $17 million in fresh funding from billionaires, agriculture companies and venture firms. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, and Richard Branson have invested in Memphis Meats. Cargill and DFJ, a venture capital firm, have also invested in Memphis Meats. The company is working on growing meat in a lab rather than raising animals for slaughter.
Memphis Meats has synthesized duck, chicken and beef in the lab.
The company’s next step is to find a way to grow meat at scale for mass production, according to chief executive and co-founder Uma Valeti.
“We envision this to be a production facility where people can walk through and see where the meat is growing, where it is being harvested and where it is being cooked. You don’t get to visit feed lots or visit slaughterhouses,” Valeti told TechCrunch.
Lab-Grown meat addresses the agriculture industry’s largest hurdle: sustainability. The poor treatment of animals, often put on conveyor belts or packed into small spaces, has led to several companies trying to find ways to change the 10,000-year-old industry.
Gates, known for his philanthropy, is known for backing lab-grown meat and alternative companies. He has backed Impossible Foods and Hampton Creek in the past five years. The companies offer alternative-protein options.
“This will accelerate our work on moving products to lower costs, developing a production environment and getting a much better handle on the multiple species we’re working on,” said Memphis Meats CEO Uma Valeti.
Memphis Meatballs, a company that’s been around since 2015, has offered private taste testing of their fried chicken and beef meatballs. Valeti reaffirms that the company will continue to refine the meats they’ve successfully synthesized.
The investment marks the first time a large meat industry company has invested in lab-grown meat. “Clean meat,” as Memphis Meats calls their products, is meat that is synthesized by cultured animal cells.