Cell-based protein startup Avant Meats announced this week it had closed a $3.1 million seed round of funding. The round included participation from China Venture Capital, AngelHub, ParticleX, Lever VC, CPT Capital, Loyal VC, Artesian, and 208 Seed Ventures. PTG Food and Regal Springs Chairman Markus Haefeli also participated.
Avant said in a press release posted to the company’s LinkedIn page that it will use the new funding to “fuel R&D and commercialization of its cultivated fish products.” The Hong Kong-based startup uses fish cells to make cultivated seafood products, including fish maw and sea cucumber. Avant held its first taste test of its fish maw product in November of 2019.
Fish maw and sea cucumber are both considered delicacies in Chinese cuisine, and Avant’s decision to start with those is strategic in terms of attracting its target demographic: consumers in China and Hong Kong. There are environmental reasons, too. Fish maw is in such high demand the species hunted for it are on the brink of extinction.
In addition to the above delicacies, Avant has also debuted a prototype for Asia’s first cultivated fish fillet, which was recently featured in a cooking demonstration from Hong Kong culinary star Chef Eddy.
In this week’s press release, Avant said part of its new funding will go towards lowering production costs of its cell-based seafood products. The company hopes to bring products to market in 2021.
That date, while right around the corner, actually seems feasible given the recent developments in the cell-based protein space. Most notably, earlier this week Eat Just became the world’s first company to get regulatory approval for selling cultured meat products. The company will start in Singapore.
Eat Just’s regulatory milestone paves the way for other startups, including Avant, to start the journey from successful prototype to mainstream commercialization. That’s not to say Avant will be selling its fish maw on grocery store shelves next year. But we Hong Kong residents and those in other parts of Asia may see it at more testings and demonstrations and on restaurant menus in the months to come.