Birmingham, UK, 9th January 2024 – UK companies Quest Meat and Multus have formed an R&D partnership to co-develop a cell culture ingredients platform for cultivated meat production. With support from world-leading researchers from the Dept. of Biochemical Engineering at University College London (UCL), the project will deliver CULT-GRO, a technology that enables cultivated meat production scale-up at a fraction of the current cost. 

A £1 million investment in the project, co-funded by Innovate UK’s Novel Low Emission Food Production Systems competition, will accelerate the availability of cell culture ingredients, powering industrial-scale cultivated meat production as an alternative to the existing meat industry. 

The current global food system – worth $8 trillion and causing $12 trillion in negative externalities – is very inefficient (World Bank, 2019). If scaled effectively, cultivated meat is expected to increase efficiency of land use by 60-300% for poultry and 2000-4000% for beef, addressing issues of environmental impact, biodiversity loss and reducing the risk of zoonotic pandemics (Good Food Institute, 2018). 

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, through a combination of nutrients for cell growth and physical scaffolding that is edible and forms part of the final meat product. Quest Meat will screen formulations in stirred bioreactors. UCL will support with validation studies, testing the formulations in bioreactors based in the state-of-the-art facilities at the Department of Biochemical Engineering. 

The partnership will complement and build on both companies’ existing product portfolios, which, for Quest Meat, includes licence-free primary cell banks and fit-for-purpose microcarriers and, for Multus, as an enabling partner for growth media development and supply in the cultivated meat industry.  

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

“We are delighted to be working with Multus and UCL to develop CULT-GRO for low-cost meat cell culture. Partnerships are critical for solving the big challenges in scaling up cultivated meat. This partnership with Multus, and with support from a world-leading university, will create a low-cost solution that helps our customers increase yields whilst driving down costs, which in turn will speed up the availability of cultivated meat products in supermarkets.”

Multus Co-founder and CEO, Cai Linton, said:

“It’s fantastic to be Quest Meat’s growth media partner of choice to demonstrate that cultivated meat can be affordable using food-grade input materials. Collaboration is crucial for overcoming the bottlenecks around scaling cultivated meat and cutting key costs. This project will accelerate the process of getting cultivated meat products from research to market and driving the crucial sustainable transition of the global food system.

Assistant professor at UCL and Quest Meat Co-founder and CSO, Petra Hanga, said:

“Our team at UCL is incredibly excited to be a part of such a collaborative and multi-disciplinary project that will address some of the current challenges that the cultivated meat industry is facing: cost and scalability. Together, we are an exceptional team that brings expertise from multiple fronts and combines it to make a unique product to support the industry: CULT-GRO.”

About Quest Meat

Quest Meat is a UK start-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 Multus

Multus specialises in growth media development and supply for cultivated meat companies. The company uses a groundbreaking combination of artificial intelligence, high-throughput lab automation and FSSC22000-certified manufacturing to develop and supply high-performance growth media quicker, cheaper, and safer. Companies partner with Multus to accelerate product development and make breakthroughs in affordable and profitable scale-up.

About UCL

UCL is a global top 10 University and was ranked 2nd in the UK for Research Power by the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). UCL has also recently been named The Sunday Times University of the Year 2024. The UCL Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering (ACBE) hosts the largest academic bioprocess group in the world and provides state-of-the-art facilities for manufacturing biologics. UCL hosts or is a spoke in several Manufacturing Hubs including the £12m EPSRC Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA).

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. Innovate UK: inspiring business innovation.