Cambridge start-up’s bio-reactor means cultured meat will be made anywhere
Animal Alternative Technologies (AAT) is an engineering spin-out from the University of Cambridge creating a complete, scalable cultured meat manufacturing system: the Renaissance Farm.
The unique aspect of AAT is that it puts the production of cultured meat in the hands of anyone who can afford a Renaissance Farm including the bio-reactor at the heart of the process – which can also produce structured meat, such as steaks, rather than only mince.
Co-founders Clarisse Beurrier and Yash Mishra launched AAT out of stealth mode at Cambridge Innovation Summit last week.
Clarisse studied Biological Sciences at Imperial and then worked at Higher Steaks, also a cultured meat company, at the Cambridge Science Park.
Yash studied biochemical engineering at UCL and is now in the final year of his PhD in biotechnology and tissue engineering at the University of Cambridge.
"A lot of the PhD is creating in vitro models of the gut-brain axis," he says.
Animal Alternative Technologies was founded in June 2020, received £200k private capital funding earlier this year, and is now on the Accelerate Cambridge programme at Cambridge Judge, having previously participated in the Big Idea Ventures programme in Singapore. The start-up is based at the Clifford Allbutt research institute on Hills Road.
"What we offer is an end-to-end cultured meat manufacturing system, which includes bio-reactors, to democratise access to sustainable food production," says Clarisse.
"We're developing the bio-reactors ourselves," adds Yash, "to produce structured meats rather than mince. We've found a manufacturer [for the bio-reactor] in Malaysia. We build the system, supply the cells and all the raw materials, and the bio-reactors are run by our automated software; it's almost plug-and-play.”
"They adopt Renaissance Farm, a manufacturing system that works rather like a coffee machine," notes Clarisse. "Unlike most companies who sell their cultured meat, we provide a complete system for cultured meat production to any food producer wanting to make their own meat at commercial scales."
First on the menu is lamb, and the first market is likely to be in Singapore - where cultured meats are already approved for consumers - followed by the US, where approval for the chicken-based version is expected by the end of the year.
"That'll open the floodgates," says Yash. "Once the precedent is set, it gets easier."
A $2.5m seed round target is expected to be concluded in the next quarter. Investors will be interested to note that the system isn't cheap.
"If a client wants to make 2million kilos of meat a year, the initial, one-off cost estimated will be $5m," Yash says, "This includes all the capital investment to get up and running, including bio-reactors."
Renaissance Farm is run by automation software, with the upkeep handled by Animal Alternative Technologies. Their technology includes AI-driven software to reduce time, costs, and risks, and Bio-Electronic analytics, originally developed by the Bio-Electronic Systems Technology group at Cambridge University, for nutrition, safety and quality control. Tissue engineering expertise allows rapid development of various meats and control factors including texture, fat content and taste. The cells are taken from leftover meat at the slaughterhouse, and no animal suffers for the yield.
By making cultured meat accessible, Animal Alternative Technologies is addressing the $2trn global meat market predicted to double by 2050, and engineering a new era of global food security and sustainability. The meat cooks in the same way as the existing option, yet is produced without antibiotics, pesticides, or land use.
"We are the world’s first cultured meat company focusing on software and analytics for bioprocess development and scale-up," concludes Clarisse.
You'll be able to try out the new products at a tasting to be announced later this year.