Cultured beef from Future Meat Technologies. Photo: Yaakov Nahmias

Today Future Meat Technologies announced it has closed a $14 million Series A funding round led by S2G Ventures and Emerald Technology Ventures, with participation from Manta Ray Ventures, Bits x Bites, and investor Henry Soesanto. This brings Future Meat’s total funding to $16.2 million.

Israel-based Future Meat makes a variety of meats, including beef and chicken, directly from animal cells. The company made waves in 2018 when it snagged a $2.2 million investment from Tyson Ventures. Future Meat’s Series A is the second largest investment round in the cultured meat sector to date, after Memphis Meats’ $17 million fundraise in 2017.

According to a press release from the company, Future Meat will funnel their new funding into R&D as well as construction on what they call “the world’s first cultured meat pilot production facility,” which they hope will begin operations in 2020. The startup is aiming to start selling what it calls “hybrid products,” which I’m guessing will be a combination of cell-based and traditional or plant-based meat, at a competitive cost level with traditional meat by 2021. It’ll then follow that with cultured meat products priced at under $10 per pound by 2022.

Future Meat’s cell-based chicken vs. farmed chicken. (Photo: Yaakov Nahmias)

One thing Future Meat didn’t mention in the press release, however, is how it plans to deal with regulatory hurdles. As I discussed with Lou Cooperhouse of BlueNalu and David Kay of Memphis Meats at SKS 2019 this week, a lack of regulatory standards is the main thing standing in the way of bringing cultured meat to market. At least in the U.S., where the FDA and USDA will jointly regulate the new technology, we have a few years to go before we’ll be able to purchase cell-based meat.

But that’s where its location — Israel — could be a major boon. Israel is a leader in tissue engineering, which means it could be more willing to speed up the regulatory process and get cultured meat to market faster. The country also currently imports the majority of its meat, despite its prioritization of food security and safety. Accelerating the entry of cultured meat and seafood to market could help the country bring more of its protein development within its borders.

Israel has yet to establish any regulatory guidelines for the sale of cultured meat, though it’s currently home to two other later-stage cultured meat startups: the aforementioned Aleph Farms and SuperMeat. The latter company has partnered with Israeli meat producer Soglowek to receive a share of its profits for product development.

Building the world’s first cultured meat production facility in the next few years is an extremely ambitious goal. However, as someone who covers this space a lot, it’s refreshing to see companies deviate from the company line of “we’ll see” and give concrete go-to-market timelines and pricing details. Future Meat may be reaching for the stars, but at least they’ve got $14 million to help them get that much closer.

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