1 May, 2020 by Niamh Harris
Billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson have both invested in a start-up that wants to ‘revolutionize the future of food’.
The five-year-old startup said in January that it had raised another $161 million in a new round of financing with the latest round of fundraising led by SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek.
High profile backers have been pouring their money into ‘Memphis Meats’, a San Francisco-based company that is developing meat from stem cells.
The start-up is part of a growing ‘clean meat’ movement which aims to produce a variety of lab-grown meat products using animal cells, and without having to actually feed or slaughter animals in the process.
Forbes reports: As socially-conscious investors, Gates and Branson likely saw a disruptive opportunity in Memphis Meats, which could not only capture share in the near trillion dollar global market for meat, but also create a new product that, according to Memphis Meats, arguably could be better for the environment, animals and public health.
Consider it an opportunity to make money and do good at the same time, wrapped together in a technologically-disruptive way.
“I’m thrilled to have invested in Memphis Meats,” Branson said in an email in response to questions from Bloomberg News. “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.”
Alternative Food Production: A Growing Trend
Memphis Meats is seeking to meet consumer demand for meat that is organic, more sustainable, and less reliant on “feed, water and land.”
Memphis Meats says it can produce its products with only 1% of the land and 1% of the water compared to traditional meat producers.
“We’re going to bring meat to the plate in a more sustainable, affordable and delicious way,” Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, said. “The world loves to eat meat…However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. These are problems that everyone wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent.”
Gates and Branson were not the only investors to share in this vision.
Memphis Meats assembled a Series A roster that includes DFJ (which led the round and has invested in Skype, Tesla and SpaceX), Cargill, Suzy and Jack Welch, Kimball Musk (Elon Musk’s brother), Atomico, KBW Ventures, New Crop Capital, Inevitable Ventures, Fifty Years, Kyle Vogt (co-Founder of Twitch) and SOSV, among others.