Last week Shojinmeat announced on Twitter that it had received a flash grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. Shojinmeat was nominated for the $5,000 grant by Isha Datar, a Shuttleworth Fellow and the Executive Director of cellular agriculture non-profit New Harvest.
If you’re not familiar, Chris Albrecht covered Tokyo-based Shojinmeat a few months ago for the Spoon:
“Shojinmeat is now an active Slack channel that connects roughly 30 DIY citizen scientists from across Japan. They gather to talk about their homegrown meat experiments and related topics such as tissue engineering, animal welfare, and regenerative medicine. Shojinmeat has also put out ‘zines with articles and pictures about their work, and recently made a move to the West by creating an English-speaking Slack channel.”
Essentially, Shojinmeat is an informational platform for DIY clean meat enthusiasts — more like a club than an actual company. So it’s easy to see why the Shuttleworth Foundation, who supports open knowledge resources, would want to support them.
Shojinmeat isn’t founder Yuki Hanyu’s only project. He also created Integriculture; a startup which is making clean meat infrastructure for B2B sale. On our call Hanyu said that Integriculture is gearing up for their first product launch this fall: a food-grade culture media, which is the “food” which clean meat needs to grow. This plant-based media is composed of sugars, amino acids, and vitamins, and Hanyu said he anticipates customers will range from companies to biohackers.
Clearly, Hanyu and his team have their fingers in quite a few pies. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors.) Shojinmeat is also developing incubators for their members to “grow” their own cultured meats. He’s planning to launch these incubators, which will market for roughly $100, at COMITIA125, a manga event in Tokyo, on August 18th. (See top image for a look at the incubator, which will be distributed with a clean meat ‘zine detailing how it can be used to grow animal tissue.) Afterwards, he’ll make them available online and put the blueprint on open source development platform GitHub.
Hanyu told me that they would use the money to buy new equipment for DIY clean meat research and fund travel to biohacking conferences, so they could share their message to a wider audience.
Interestingly, he also mentioned that Shojinmeat would also use the grant to support a project they’re working on with local high schools. Hanyu is collaborating with a group of government officials (among others) to launch a high school class focused entirely on cell cultures.
Clean meat has sparked quite a bit of controversy as of late. With the government and groups like the National Beef Cattleman’s Association attempting to exert influence over and regulate the clean meat space, a virtual army of people working on affordable, attainable solutions around the world (or at least in Japan) is pretty cool. It’s also a sign that the steady march towards cultured meat can’t be stopped.
The Shuttleworth Foundation website says it awards Flash Grants to companies that are “social change agents.” There’s no question that Shojinmeat — with its mission to make cultured meat open and accessible — is exactly that.