Multus Media, a startup working on a replacement for animal serum used in cultivating meat, announced today that it has raised a £1.6 milliion (~$2.2M USD) Seed round of funding. Investors in the round include SOSV, Zero Carbon Capital, Marinya Capital and angel investor Sake Bosch. The round also includes an equity-free grant of £106,000 (~$146,000 USD) from the UK Research and Innovation Council.
Founded in 2019, Multus Media was spun out of SOSV’s IndieBio program and is developing a new type of growth medium for use in creating cultured meat that is more economical that current solutions. Serum is what cultivated animal cells are placed in, allowing them to grow and form cultured meat. Serum is also an expensive part of the cultivation process with the controversial fetal bovine serum costing $200 per liter. But it’s not just the cost of the serum itself, it’s how much is used to culture meat.
As Cai Linton, Multus Media CEO explained to me last week, part of the issue is how quickly existing serum formulations deplete. Linton said that because of this depletion, serums need to be replaced every two to three days in order to keep the meat cells growing. Multus is developing a formulation that will last twice that, saving cultured meat companies money because they don’t need to buy as much of it.
Right now, Multus has identified the formulation of proteins, compounds and other ingredients it needs to make its serum. The next phase will be producing the serum, dubbed Proliferum M. Linton said that the company is looking to bring its first product to market by the end of this year, and ramp up production by the end of 2022. Multus’ formulation is not animal free at this point, though Linton said it will be as they scale up production. By 2026, the company projects that Proliferum M will cost less than $1 per liter.
There are a number of startups working on novel replacements for animal-based growth serums. In South Korea, Seawith is using algae to create both growth serum and scaffolding in cultured meat. In Canada, Future Fields is developing an animal-free serum designed to cultivate chicken.
Bringing the cost of cultured meat into parity with animal meat is a critical part of the market gaining widespread adoption. We’ve already seen companies like Mosa Meat and Future Meat both slash the production costs of their cultured meat over the past year. Perhaps Multus Media can help them, and other players in the space, bring those costs down even further.