Birmingham, UK, 23rd January 2024 – Quest Meat, a pioneering leader in cultivated meat technology and stem cell bioprocessing, and the University of Birmingham (UoB), a globally recognised institution for their skills and knowhow in food manufacturing and engineering, have joined forces in a groundbreaking Research and Development (R&D) partnership. The collaboration will accelerate the development of Quest Meat’s highly regenerative cell culture ingredient platform that will revolutionise cultivated meat production.

The ambitious project, backed by a £520,000 investment, is set to propel the growth of cultivated meat production on an industrial scale. Co-funded by Innovate UK’s Novel Low Emission Food Production Systems competition, the initiative seeks to develop Quest Meat’s exciting scalable, food-grade ingredients technology.

The project will bring University of Birmingham’s world leading expertise in formulation engineering for food stability/storage to the cultivated meat sector for the first time. The partners will work together to advance Quest Meat’s product lines NEUTRIX and NEUSOL, based on the proprietary ingredients platform. These ingredients promote meat cell growth more consistently and at lower cost than traditional cell culture ingredients, increasing process intensification and speed of production, with radically reduced manufacturing costs. Within the project, stability and storage conditions of the product lines will be tested to determine shelf life and to identify conditions permissive for ambient storage/shipping, thereby driving down cost and emissions, and increasing feasibility of cultivated meat.

The global food system, valued at $8 trillion, currently incurs $12 trillion in negative externalities, as reported by the World Bank in 2019. The cultivation of meat, if successfully scaled, is projected to improve land use efficiency by 60-300% for poultry and an astounding 2000-4000% for beef, as per data from the Good Food Institute (2018). This groundbreaking technology holds the potential to mitigate environmental impact, counteract biodiversity loss, and reduce the risk of zoonotic pandemics.

However, there are still major bottlenecks to scaling cultivated meat. These include replacing bovine serum and ensuring adequate scaffolding for stem cell attachment, growth, and maturation into meat tissue. The project will address these challenges, by offering two novel approaches; NEUTRIX, a nutrient-rich edible physical scaffolding for cell culture, and NEUSOL, a low-cost soluble media supplement that overcomes the cost, bioavailability and efficiency challenges of engineered proteins/growth factors.

Quest Meat Co-founder and CEO, Ivan Wall, said:

“We are delighted to be working with our neighbours at the University of Birmingham to advance our NEUTRIX and NEUSOL ingredient platforms for low-cost meat cell culture. At Quest Meat we strongly believe that partnerships are critical for solving the big challenges in scaling up cultivated meat. Through our partnership with the University of Birmingham, combining our unique experience in stem cell bioprocessing alongside their advanced expertise in food manufacturing, we will pioneer novel, food-safe, cell culture ingredients platforms that not only enhance process efficiency but also mitigate some of the major critical scale-up challenges facing the cultivated meat industry. This will ultimately be a solution to the inefficiencies and destructive environmental impact of industry scale meat production.

Associate Professor, Dr Thomas Mills, at the University of Birmingham, said:

Our partnership with Quest Meat aligns with our commitment to food manufacturing research and sustainable development that has a tangible impact on society. By developing a cost-effective cell culture ingredients platform, we aim to catalyse the adoption of cultivated meat as a sustainable and ethical alternative in the global food landscape.”

The £520,000 investment, supported by Innovate UK, is poised to fast-track the availability of Quest Meat’s ingredient platforms, propelling industrial-scale cultivated meat production and contributing to a more sustainable future. As the project unfolds, Quest Meat and the University of Birmingham anticipate redefining the future of food production and inspiring positive change across the industry.

About Quest Meat

Quest Meat is a UK start-up set up by stem cell bioprocess experts. They create low-cost, sustainable cell culture raw materials for the cultivated meat sector. They are advancing a patent-pending multi-format ingredients platform and licence-free primary cell lines that are validated in scalable bioreactors. Quest Meat supports customers to accelerate scale-up and cost reduction in cell production that includes cultivated meat producers, value chain companies, and research organisations.

About the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a globally renowned institution committed to advancing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and contributing to societal well-being. With a focus on food manufacturing and sustainable development research, the university plays a pivotal role in addressing global challenges and shaping a brighter future through education and innovation.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. We provide targeted sectors with expertise, facilities and funding to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth. Join our network and communities of innovators to realise the potential of your ideas and accelerate business growth.