Estonian start-up Gelatex has a bold vision of starting a new chapter in the futuristic story “Cell-cultured meat cheaper than ever: how did it happen?”
Gelatex has found a solution to scale and enhance the production of nanofibrous material that could be used to grow cell-cultured meat. Within their innovative team composed of materials science and business development professionals, they found an opportunity to use multi-purposeful, cheap, and easy-to-use nanofibrous 3D scaffolding in the manufacture of cell-cultured meat (but also in medical tissue engineering).
Scaffold is needed for manufactured cell-cultured meat production in order to give the meat structure. Without the scaffold, meat would just be a paté-type of mush. Currently popular electrospun and hydrogel solutions that are used to enable cell-cultured tissue products are 90% more expensive than what Gelatex can do with their technology. If the currently popular manufacturing solutions persist, lab-grown meat will only be affordable for the richest of enterprises and individuals.
Yet, by 2040, cultured meat is estimated to make up 35% of global meat production. The demand for meat will only increase in growing Asian markets. As of now, cell-cultured meat is battling with the stigmas of “wrong texture” and “too expensive to produce it en masse”.
Gelatex’s scalable scaffold will hopefully annul those stigmas in the near future. They gained confidence from the USA Techstars accelerator to find worthy investors for their cause. The 1.2M seed round led by Change Ventures and Crosslight Partners is proof that early trend investors have faith in their vision and team. The question remains, however: are the cell-cultured meat producers ready to take a significant step in the manufacture of meat?
Rait Ojasaar, Investment Partner at Change Ventures said that there’s a “gold rush” ahead of us and Gelatex’s nanofibrous scaffolds resemble the ‘picks and shovels’ that cultured meat producers need to succeed. “Clean water is more expensive each year. Fertile land is more valuable than ever. We need both in large quantities to grow livestock for the food industry. This isn’t a sustainable model for our planet and farmers alike. Cell-cultured meat which would also be cheaper than the industrialized beef you get from the meat market - now that could be a sustainable pathway to optimize Earth’s resources,” said Ojasaar.
Crosslight Partners was convinced by Gelatex’s team build. “We believe that Gelatex has an experienced and strong development team which is integral in the quest of creating cell-cultured meat,” said Vilhelm Sundström, Partner at Crosslight Partners.
CEO of Gelatex, Märt-Erik Martens, emphasized the fact that the seed round is an early milestone for the start-up, but there are already multiple reasons to be proud of their achievements. “We are running multiple pilot projects with 8 out of 10 world’s leading cultured meat producers. We have run enough tests to know that our cheaper nanofibrous materials can make a true difference in the texture of cell-cultured meat. Currently, one kilogram of scaffolding material costs about 100 000 euros. Today, because of our technology, we are able to produce nanofibrous scaffolds at a price less than 1000 €/kg easily. If we stay true to our ambitions and keep scaling our technology, it will cost only 40 euros in less than 5 years. 20 euros in less than 10 years. This is less than one euro of scaffold per kg of meat. These high-performance materials have never been as accessible as they are today, because of our technology.” said Martens.
Gelatex Technologies is an experienced materials technology company from Estonia and inventor of cost-effective technology for nanofibers production. Their scalable platform technology enables the implementation of nanofibers in applications that were inapproachable until now such as scaffolds for cell-cultured meat, scar-reducing wound care materials, bio-based filtration materials, and more. Gelatex was founded in 2016 and makes materials of tomorrow available today.