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Cultured meat company Vow wow’s venture capitalists

Cultured meat

Australian cultured meat company Vow has secured $7.7 million (US$6 million) seed funding from some of the country’s leading venture capital companies.

Led by Square Peg Capital, the over-capitalised series seed round was joined by existing investors Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures (the investment office of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes), and new investors Tenacious Ventures. This round will also see the appointment of James Tynan from Square Peg to the Vow board of directors.

Tynan says the team at Vow had “the most audacious” vision for the future of food. “They’re tackling one of the biggest problems on the planet and have delivered results with less than one per cent of the resources of its competitors.” 

Vow was co-founded by former Cochlear design lead Tim Noakesmith and George Peppou from start-up accelerator Cicada Innovations.

In 2019, it received a $25,000 grant from the New South Wales Government after creating the first ever cell-cultured kangaroo meat grown from stem cells. It was a world first in making a food product from the cells of an undomesticated animal. 

Since then, Vow has grown its “Noah’s Ark” cell library to 11 animals and plated six of them in another world first product demonstration with one of Australia’s most renowned chefs, Neil Perry.

Instead of using animals, Vow can leverage not only standard livestock cells such as pork and chicken, but the cells of less conventional animals like kangaroo, alpaca, and water buffalo.

In August 2020, Noakesmith – Vow co-founder and chief commercial officer said the company was looking at the new paradigm of food. “We don’t just have to think about the animals that we can domesticate, but we can start to think about any animal which has cells, which is literally all of them. Our cell library gives us a chance to start to explore all those other culinary secrets that are kept in nature,” Noakesmith said.

“The actual ethics around working with animals is abstracted from the process once it’s in our library.

“We’re looking at ways we can further remove the animals from the process, by using a certain type of stem cell, taking a harmless part of an animal, say a feather, or a part seen as a waste product like a discarded umbilical cord, and reprogramming that to express the cells available in meat, such as muscle, fat, or connective tissue.”

In December, the industry took a big leap forward with the Singapore Food Agency announcing a cultivated meat – US-based Eat Just’s cultured chicken nuggets – met its food safety standards and was safe for human consumption. The industry called the decision a game changer.

This latest round of investment allows us to focus on the culinary opportunity and make food that really excites people.

Vow co-founder and CEO George Peppou says: “There’s no doubt that cultured meat is becoming available and will soon be mainstream. This is about so much more than an alternative to animal agriculture, it’s about a category of products totally distinct from, and better than, what animals are capable of producing.”

Noakesmith says: “We believe that the only way to change the behaviour of billions of people is to make many products that are simply better than what we have today.

“This latest round of investment allows us to focus on the culinary opportunity and make food that really excites people. It’s a bonus to know that these are the same foods that will allow us to live in harmony with our planet and move away from the climate emergency associated with our current food systems.”

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

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