Last week a group of Japan-based companies announced the official launch of the CulNet Consortium, an open innovation platform for the development of cell-cultured meat in Japan and beyond. The announcement, made by Japan cell-based meat startup IntegriCulture, details the member companies and outlines the activities of the group.
The group’s platform is centered around an open innovation framework developed by IntegriCulture, one of Japan’s most visible and active startups in cellular agriculture. The Uni-CulNet framework and the Consortium plans were originally announced in May of 2020, when IntegriCulture described the framework as “a standardized cellular agriculture infrastructure” that “rapidly establishes the foundation for democratized cellular agriculture.”
The consortium’s member companies plan to cooperate across five different areas to help accelerate the sector’s overall advancement: cell source, culture medium, CulNet hardware, product bioreactor, and product processing.
- Standardized culture media: Recipes that are fundamentally different from the existing media (basal media). Basal media are the raw material for all cultured cell products, and a different type is required for each kind (food, material, medical, etc.).
- CulNet SystemTM hardware: Hardware that lets people use the CulNet SystemTM across a broad spectrum of uses, whether it’s in mass production or just at home.
- Product bioreactors: Bioreactors that are used to make things like the products’ edible parts. We estimate that a variety of animals used as agricultural products will be a source for the cells.
- Cell product processing: The process control that is needed to meet the products’ processing and safety requirements (cell components and culture supernatant).
- Cell sources: The process that is used to extract and culture cells from livestock and fishery resources and the systems that enable the whole sequence of processes to be completed right where the cell sources are produced—tailoring them to their intended use, source animal species, etc.
It’s not surprising IntegriCulture and its founder Yuki Hanyu are a driving force behind a standardization push around open innovation. Hanyu has been the most visible evangelist for cell-based meat in Japan over the last few years, and his company’s ethos for open innovation was signaled by the efforts he put into building a DIY cultured meat initiative with the Shojinmeat project.
The CulNet Consortium isn’t the only industry organization gaining momentum as the cell-based meat industry matures. The Alliance for Meat, Poultry & Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation), an industry group focused on market education and industry advocacy, just announced an eighth member, Orbillion Bio, who joins Eat Just, Upside and Blue Nalu, among others. AMPS has been working to influence US policy to support the cultured meat industry, including a recent joint industry letter to the FDA after its call for input into the labeling framework for cell-based meat.