SCiFi Foods Brings Price and Taste Parity - Raises $22M for Hybrid Plant-Based-Cellular Meat
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media
Bay Area food tech startup Artemys Foods has rebranded under its new name, SCiFi Foods, and has closed on $22 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
This round brings total funding to-date for the company to $29 million, which has been committed from a cadre of investors that includes Valor Siren Ventures, BoxGroup, Entree Capital, Prelude Ventures, and others.
Joshua March, co-founder and CEO, SCiFi Foods, said, “I believe it’s important to be open and authentic about what we’re doing, and our new name reflects exactly that. Consumers value transparency, and I would rather be bold than hide behind a bland, corporate moniker.”
A Hybrid Approach
Conventional methods of beef production require 3,500 square feet of land, 1,451 liters of water, and 25 kilograms of feed to produce just 1 kilogram of beef. Driven by a need to address the environmental cost of such production, plant-based meat alternatives have been in development in recent years - but not without their fair share of challenges in regard to factors such as taste and texture profiles.
Co-founded by CEO Joshua March and CTO Kasia Gora, Ph.D., SCiFi Foods is setting itself apart by taking a novel approach - the creation of transformational alternatives made by combining plant-based and cellular ground beef cells to make burgers that taste and feel dramatically closer to their full-beef counterparts.
By leveraging cutting-edge bioengineering such as CRISPR technology, SCiFi Foods is able to overcome the main obstacles that have been keeping cultivated meat from reaching price parity with conventional versions - enabling the company to grow meat from cells at scale and at an affordable price point. Then, by combining cultivated meat with plant-based meat alternatives to create a hybrid burger, the company was able to reinforce the affordability of the final product.
"We've devised the technology to grow real meat without the need for an animal — an astounding feat,” said March. “This innovation is the future we once only imagined could be a reality. As a company creating food, there are two things we absolutely can never compromise on: trust as a brand and the taste of our products."
The company stated that it intends to use the capital from this round to support its substantial R&D initiatives, employ new marketing strategies, and to hire new, additional talent.
"We've accomplished an extraordinary amount in just over two years and I'm immensely proud of the world-class team and platform we've built,” said Kasia Gora, Ph.D., co-founder and CTO, SCiFi Foods. “Since last April, the pace of our R&D has truly been unprecedented and we have already achieved tremendous, groundbreaking results. We're grateful to have such incredible investors like a16z and advisors like Myra on this journey with us."
Given Andreessen’s track record, having the investor identify your company as one with potential is highly meaningful. Over the last 20 years, Andreessen has backed some of the world’s most iconic brands including Facebook, Airbnb, Lyft, and Pinterest, building a reputation along the way of picking winners from an early stage.
Vijay Pande, who led this investment in SCiFi Foods for Andreessen, stated that there were multiple factors that highlight the startup’s unique position in its category, and that make it a good fit for the fund.
“Cultivated meat will disrupt the trillion-dollar global market for meat products, with huge benefits to the planet,” said Pande. “However, there are major cost hurdles, and SCiFi’s technology and approach was the first we felt that truly has the potential to both scale quickly and to drastically reduce cost.”
~ Lynda Kiernan-Stone is editor with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, as well as HighQuest Group’s Unconventional Ag. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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