Cultivated Meat Startup Evolved Meats Raises $2 Million in Seed Round, Led by Funders Maple Leaf Foods and Big Idea Ventures
Evolved Meats (“Evolved”; formerly known as CaroMeats), a Canadian biotechnology startup, has raised $2 million in its seed round to accelerate its product development and to support the initial scale up of its production processes. This round is led by Canada’s leading protein company, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., and financing is joined by a global protein fund, Big Idea Ventures, and investors Garage Capital, Saltagen Ventures, the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Fund, and strategic angels.
Worldwide demand for meat is expected to double by 2050, and new forms of production will be needed to help service it. In addition to that supply challenge, global meat production drives ~15% of total carbon emissions and is a key driver of climate change. By growing meat directly from stem cells, Evolved’s technology represents a sustainable path forward to mitigate both of these challenges. Evolved’s species agnostic platform grows whole cuts of meat that are structurally and biochemically identical to conventional cuts of meat butchered from animals (eg. steak, pork belly, chicken breast, fillet of fish, etc). In addition, Evolved can leverage its ability to grow functional tissue to create a unique production system that gives it the opportunity to become a low cost operator in the space.
Evolved’s unique approach is enabled by provisionally patented innovations in tissue engineering, which its CEO Alireza Shahin developed during his PhD and post-doctoral work in Dr. Ravi Selvaganapathy’s lab at McMaster University. Through his novel approaches to cell sheet engineering, Shahin discovered that he was able to create functional tissues that could then be arranged to replicate any cut of meat from any species. This allows Evolved to recreate the fibrous texture, marbling, taste, mouthfeel, and nutrition of conventional meat directly from cells, and this is achieved without the need for any exogenous materials, such as scaffolding or binders.
“Our ambition is to recreate meat in a way that is identical to nature by biofabricating functional muscle tissues and capturing the entire muscle to meat transition. The proprietary technologies underlying our modular system allow us to do exactly that. However, recreating whole cuts of meat is only part of the challenge. Our unique ability to create functional tissues will help us scale out our production while driving towards price parity with conventional meat,” said Shahin. “This mix of familiar cuts and affordable prices will enable Evolved to lead a massive transformation of the food system, and we are excited to work with Maple Leaf Foods and Big Idea Ventures to usher in that change.”
“Maple Leaf Foods’ vision is to be the most sustainable protein company on earth. We are committed to supporting promising new technologies with the potential to nourish people and protect the planet,” said Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. “We are excited to invest in Evolved, as they pursue their vision to produce cultivated meat production using their unique technology.”
“Evolved Meats are working to solve important scale-up challenges to cell-based meats,” said Andrew D. Ive, Founder and Managing General Partner of Big Idea Ventures. “By removing the need for scaffolding, Evolved Meats technology breaks down not one but several barriers in the cultivated meat production process and makes non-processed meat cuts possible. We are excited to invest and support the company, and as an active board member I look forward to working with the Evolved Meats team.”
Added John Cappuccitti, co-founder and COO, “We have a once in a generation opportunity to reimagine our relationship with natural food, and we owe it to ourselves, the planet, and nature to make sure we do things sustainably. By creating whole cuts of meat directly from cells, we are enabling consumers to enjoy meat without compromise. We encourage anyone who wants to join this mission to reach out.”