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SCiFi Foods Ceases Operations Amid Funding Challenges – vegconomist

SCiFi Foods Ceases Operations Amid Funding Challenges – vegconomist

SCiFi Foods, a startup engaged in developing cultivated meat, has ceased operations and initiated the sale of its intellectual property and assets through an advisory firm.

The San Leandro, California-based company, originally founded as Artemys Foods in 2019, had rebranded to SCiFi Foods in 2022. The company aimed to produce a hybrid burger combining cultivated beef and plant-based ingredients to reach price parity with conventional beef.

“We did not make this decision lightly, but it was the best option”

The company had raised approximately $40 million from various venture capital funds and notable investors, including the British band Coldplay, according to AgFunderNews. SCiFi Foods distinguished itself by utilizing CRISPR technology to accelerate the cultivation process and by aiming to produce hybrid burgers containing around 10% cultured meat and the remainder plant-based proteins.

©SCiFi Foods

Technological breakthroughs

The company reported achieving a 1000x cost reduction in producing cultivated beef by growing edible beef cell lines in single-cell suspension. This method allowed for the use of standard large-sized bioreactors, streamlining the scaling process. SCiFi Foods then partnered with Michigan State University to test the scalability of its hybrid burgers, seeking to expedite production and gain insights into the manufacturing process.

Despite these advancements, SCiFi Foods faced funding obstacles. The founders explained in an announcement, “Last week, we shut down SCiFi operations and handed off to an advisory firm to run a sale process of our IP and assets. We did not make this decision lightly, but it was the best option as we reached the end of our runway. Unfortunately, in this funding environment, we could not raise the capital that we needed to commercialize the SCiFi burger, and SCiFi Foods ran out of time.”

SCiFi Foods
© SCiFi Foods

The founders expressed disappointment in not being able to bring their product to market, noting the broader challenges faced by the cultivated meat and meat alternative markets. The founders hope that other companies can utilize their intellectual property and cell lines to further the development of cultivated meat. “SCiFi Foods was founded out of a sense of optimism for a better future, and we remain optimistic that one day, cultivated meat will be part of a sustainable food system,” the company stated.

Industry reflections and future hopes

SCiFi Foods’ journey began with an aspiration to create 100% cultivated meat. Initially, the technology was not advanced enough to realize this vision, leading the company to pursue a blended product strategy. Over the past five years, SCiFi Foods achieved a significant reduction in the cost of producing their burger, from $20,000 to under $15, due to advancements in cell line performance and media cost reduction.

The company’s scientific team developed beef cell lines that grow in single-cell suspension, 100% serum-free, in low-cost culture media, with a 24-hour doubling time, and achieved titers of 10 g/L in a fed-batch process. Despite these technical successes, the company was unable to secure the necessary funding amid a challenging market environment and shifting regulatory landscape.

“We remain optimistic that one day, cultivated meat will be part of a sustainable food system”

The founders concluded their message with a reflection on the broader industry challenges and the need for continued innovation to achieve commercial viability for 100% cultivated meat. They remain hopeful that their contributions will aid in the future success of the industry.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” the company concluded.

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