Cultivated meat has a scale-up problem. Extracellular is here to help

Founded by Kiren Baines and Will Milligan, they’re using their decades of combined experience in biopharmaceutical process and product development to develop the food of the future.

Extracellular is a team of 11 scientists and engineers with experience developing complex biologics and food products. The team, led by Kiren, has experience working with cells from more than a dozen species, and running bioreactor processes from 200mL to 200L. Kiren’s expertise in cell biology gives her a unique insight to the challenges facing the industry:

“Understanding and characterising cells and their behaviour, for example in response to certain growth factors, helps us create a pool of knowledge we can reliably draw from, translating that into reduced costs and scaled-back timelines for processes and ultimately making the technology more commercially viable.”

Sustainability and quality is key to developing more sustainable food of the future. Taryn Fletcher, Extracellular’s Sustainability and Lab Manager, is responsible for facilitiating research and minimising the company’s impact on the planet. “One of the biggest challenges facing science is what to do with the single use consumables that typically fill every lab up and down the country? For example, we have introduced a plastics and glove recycling program which has significantly reduced waste to incineration or landfill.”

Scale-up is one of Extracellular’s main focuses, and scale needs the right kind of infrastructure. Jamie Thompson joined Extracellular from Unilever to design the facilities and processes needed for cultivated meat. ” At Extracellular we’re building the capability to become the largest cultivated meat manufacturer within the UK through our efforts to expand our facilities here in Bristol into bioreactors of 1000L capacity and beyond, bridging the gap between research and full-scale manufacturing. I’m excited about what I can contribute to an industry which has such considerable power to make a meaningful, positive change in the world”

Scale-up is the next big hurdle for cultivated meat, and Extracellular plans to grow to support the sector. With his experience in biotech contract manufacturing, Extracellular CEO Will Milligan understands the challenges facing start-ups.

“Start-ups know they need to scale, but investors don’t like companies spending money on capex, especially before the products have been developed more fully. It’s a valley of death for most companies. Extracellular is building the scale-up capabilities to help these cultivated meat companies, and we think we can help de-risk the entire sector. Our aim is to help them get to market years faster and millions of dollars cheaper by partnering with us.”

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