Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Ashton Kutcher Group Teams with Bioprinted Alt Meat Startup MeaTech 

ST Medical Devices

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At the forefront of the cultured meat revolution, MeaTech develops 3D bioprinting technologies to produce premium industrial animal cell-based meat cuts as a sustainable alternative to industrialized farming. In just two years, the Israeli company went from startup to becoming a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq exchange. Now MeaTech has announced a partnership with a collective led by two renowned technology investors, actor Ashton Kutcher and entertainment manager Guy Oseary.

Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary at a Sound Ventures event.

Guy Oseary and Ashton Kutcher at a Sound Ventures event. Image courtesy of Sound Ventures via Instagram.

The entrepreneurial partnership will focus on accelerating the company’s development and commercialization of its proprietary cultured meat production technologies. MeaTech is creating a sustainable alternative to industrialized animal farming by developing its proprietary cultured meat production processes based on advanced 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering technologies for various species offerings.

Kutcher described the initiative as “in line” with his group’s mission to provide sustainable solutions through company building, investment, and acceleration of companies and technologies across various sustainability domains. He expects MeaTech will become the market leader in cultured meat production thanks to its innovative 3D printing processes.

“We intend to work closely with MeaTech’s management to help MeaTech implement its strategy and achieve its goals and global success by leveraging our marketing, strategic expertise, and network,” commented Kutcher, who has been investing in some of the most successful technology startups for over a decade. The celebrity is a founding partner of A-Grade Investments and Sound Ventures and a philanthropist, having founded the anti-human trafficking nonprofit Thorn to help fight the sexual exploitation of children.

MeaTech's vision of a factory of the future for cultured meat.

MeaTech’s vision of a factory of the future for cultured meat. Image courtesy of MeaTech.

MeaTech believes cultured meat technologies hold significant potential to improve meat production, simplify the meat supply chain, and offer consumers a range of new product offerings. Like other competing startups in this niche cultured meat market, the business is relying on bioprinting to create alternative meats, particularly premium, center-of-plate meat products, such as structured marbled steaks.

But the company is not stopping at red meat alternatives. In 2021, MeaTech revealed plans to establish, own, and operate a pilot plant to scale up cultured chicken fat production in 2022. By leveraging its cultured chicken fat technologies, it aims to expedite its market entry while developing, in tandem, an industrial process for cultivating and producing real meat cuts, such as steak or chicken breast, using 3D bioprinting. Ultimately, MeaTech plans to incorporate its 3D bioprinting technologies in the pilot plant to manufacture real meat cuts from cellular agriculture.

Additionally, it is expanding its research and development activities to include pork as part of its strategy to develop a broad cellular agriculture technology offering. Porcine cellular agriculture, if successfully developed, has the potential to expand MeaTech’s potential addressable markets, as pork is the most consumed meat across the globe. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly 36% of the global population eats pork, followed by poultry (33%) and beef (24%).

MeaTech's cultured meat.

MeaTech’s bioprinted cultured meat. Image courtesy of MeaTech.

Working towards these goals, MeaTech CEO Sharon Fima says his company has not only been developing a suite of high-throughput bioprinting systems to produce cell-based alternative protein products, but he has also expressed a vision of creating a cultured meat “factory of the future.” The site would comprise the inputs, processes, and equipment underlying a flexible cultured meat manufacturing facility.

To meet future demand for meat consumption, expected to double by 2050, MeaTech’s Business Development Executive Simon Fried said there will be a need to “grow more food in the next 30 years than in all of human history.” But making meat production sustainable means the industry needs to adopt new cellular-agriculture technologies, and that’s where companies like MeaTech come in.

MeaTech's cultured meat steak vision

MeaTech’s cultured meat steak vision involves bioprinting technology. Image courtesy of MeaTech.

The key to its success is growing cells in the lab, which are then differentiated into fat and muscle cells. First, the scientists collect samples of umbilical cords from newborn calves without harming the animals. Once differentiated, the cells are placed in bioreactors to grow. Then the cell lines and unique scaffolding materials are transformed into bioinks and loaded into the company’s 3D bioprinter, which will assemble cells as they would be found in a conventional cut of muscle. Finally, the printed product is incubated to mature and form tissue before turning it into a meat cut.

Eventually, the goal is to standardize this process and make it industrial. Fima believes that the new strategic collaboration with the visionary group led by Kutcher and Oseary will accelerate the company’s journey to becoming the next meat production powerhouse. “We will leverage their expertise and relationships with key industry players to help us propel our strategy, go-to-market activities, and brand.”

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