South Korean cultured meat startup CellMEAT raised a $4.5 million Pre-Series A round of funding at the end of last month (hat tip to Green Queen). The round was led by Korea-based NAU IB Capital, with participation from BNK Venture Capital, DT & Investment, Ryu Kyung PSG Asset Management, JNU Holdings, Yonsei Technology Holdings, and U.S.-based Knollwood Investment Advisory, as well as existing investors Strong Ventures, Primer Sazze Partners, and Primer.
Founded in 2019, CellMEAT’s cultured meat technology involves an original cell culturing medium that acts as an alternative to the controversial fetal bovine serum. The company said that this round of funding will go towards continued research and development to bring production costs down and accelerate scaling to mass production. CellMEAT has R&D center in the cities of Gwangju at the Cheonnam National University and Seoul at Ewha Womans University’s Mokdong Hospital.
We are only two months in to 2021, and already investment in cultured meat startups is downright frothy. CellulaREvolution raised $1.37 million, BlueNalu raised $60 million, New Age Meats added another $2 million to its coffers, Vow Foods raised $6 million, Mirai Foods raised $2.4 million, and Future Meat raised $26.75 million.
There are still a number of hurdles before cultured meat can go mainstream, however. Chief among them, the price to create cultured meat needs to come way down. Mosa Meats, which just closed an $85 million Series B round this week, famously made a $325,000 cultured meat burger back in 2013. The price for Mosa’s meats has dropped 80x since then, thanks in large part to the elimination of fetal bovine serum in its process.
Thankfully, as you can see, there are a number of startups, including CellMEAT that are working on that issue.