Yesterday, Integriculture was awarded a $2.2 million dollar grant by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a part of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that supports high-risk technologies that aim to resolve social issues.
NEDO awarded a total ¥5.77 billion ( $54.7 million USD) to eight Japanese start-ups. With each grant comes a spot in NEDO’s Product Commercialization Alliance (PCA) program, an accelerator for start-ups expected to achieve continuous sales within three years.
IntegriCulture’s will use the money for a commercial production site for cellular agriculture projects. Earlier this year the company outlined the specifics of its CultNet System, a general-purpose, large-scale cell culture technology. The system is intended to mimic the cell-to-cell communication that happens in vivo. The grow cells (muscle, fat, connective tissue) and cells that produce growth factors in adjacent bioreactors. In theory, the technology makes it possible to culture any type of animal cell in large quantities.
The coming production site will make it possible to scale, automate and integrate quality controls into the CultNet System, according to a press release from IntegriCulture. Ultimately, the site will be the launching pad commercial scale cellular ag projects possible, starting with IntegriCulture’s own cultured foie gras expected to be in restaurants by 2021.
The PCA grant comes just after Integriculture raised a ¥800 million (~$7.4 million USD) Series A round earlier this Spring to further development of its cell-based meat and also for building the company’s first commercial-scale bioreactor.
But the goal of the CultNet System was never to exclusively produce IntegriCulture products. CEO Yuki Hanyu’s plan is to create an infrastructure that IntegriCulture clients from every sector—food, supplements, cosmetics, materials—could use to to develop and execute cell-based projects.
Democratization of cellular agriculture has always been at the heart of Hanyu’s work. IntegriCulture was born out of the DIY cultured meat community he founded in 2015 called the Shojinmeat Project. Shojinmeat offers a step-by-guide for hobbyists who want to culture meat at home. And since IntegriCulture’s commercial scale foie gras is still a few years off, the fastest way to access to cultured meat might be growing it yourself.