Ever After Foods Secures $10M to Scale Disruptive Meat Tech

Despite the current financial and optimistic drought in the nascent cultivated meat industry, it’s premature to dismiss its potential, asserts Israeli startup Ever After Foods. The company has recently secured a $10 million capital injection aimed at scaling its patented technology, which promises to dramatically reduce both capital and operational expenditures. This funding round was led by undisclosed multinational companies and Asian investors, along with existing backers Tnuva and Pluri.

Ever After Foods, a spin-off from regenerative medicine company Pluri, holds exclusive licensing rights to Pluri’s intellectual property related to cultivated meat and fish. The startup has recently pivoted to a B2B model, enabling other companies to leverage its technology. CEO Eyal Rosenthal told AgFunderNews that Ever After Foods is already collaborating with select cultivated meat and food companies. “We are not just offering incremental improvements but something that is truly disruptive in terms of productivity,” he emphasized.

CTO Dr. Barak Zohar elaborated on the cost advantages: “Even if you just look at media and depreciation costs, the cost of our system is dramatically lower than the equivalent stir tank approach, which is most commonly used by cultivated meat companies. We’re talking about production costs that are 90% lower. And that’s before you even consider factors like water use, plant area, and electricity.”

Rosenthal acknowledged the current market downturn, marked by over-promising and under-delivering. “Companies need to show investors that they can scale, which is where our technology comes into play,” he said. Although Ever After Foods was only formed in 2022, the IP underpinning it has been developed over many years, with patents covering cell lines, bioreactor design, and the harvesting process after the propagation stage.

The company’s approach involves a two-stage process using smaller packed bed vessels instead of the more common, and more expensive, stir tank bioreactors. In the initial cell propagation phase, adherent cells grow on non-edible carriers and are detached using patented mechanical vibrations. They are then transferred to larger production bioreactors where they seed onto edible scaffolding and mature into meaty tissue. This approach results in significantly lower capital expenditures and production costs. “We can produce more than 10 kilos of cultivated meat mass with a 35-liter production bioreactor, whereas others would need a 1,000+ liter bioreactor to produce that amount,” Rosenthal noted.

Zohar explained that the packed bed system allows for a high solid-to-liquid ratio, enabling more tissue to be produced in the same space and using less media. “We’re also recycling our media, which allows us to reduce costs dramatically. Our system is very compact, so the total volume of the system is lower and more cost-effective in terms of media and supplements both for cell growth and differentiation.”

The bioreactors are designed so that the media is cell-free, simplifying the process of recycling and sterilization. “In our system, the cells are inside the column and the media is in a reservoir and it’s circulated inside. This means we can use the media in a far more efficient way,” Zohar added.

The edible scaffolds used in the production bioreactors enable cells to differentiate and mature into meaty tissue, offering a significant improvement over the undifferentiated “cell slurry” many cultivated meat companies are planning to launch with. “We’ve proved we can get far higher levels of protein and lipids when we provide the conditions for cells to create tissues. We need fewer cells to initiate the process because the edible scaffolding allows the cells to continue to grow for at least four or five doublings before we push them to differentiate to muscle and fat tissue,” Zohar explained.

The differentiation process is highly efficient, with nearly 100% of cells differentiating to fat and producing significantly more lipids than if they were growing in suspension. Zohar pointed out that many companies use suspension methods because they are common in pharma, but these methods are not ideal for making cultivated meat. “If you want to make something like that, you could just work with yeast and bacteria. But we want to make meat with real muscle and fat tissue,” he concluded.

The latest developments at Ever After Foods signal a promising future for cultivated meat, showcasing technology that could address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

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