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A cell-cultured beef burger patty being fried.
One of Mirai Foods' non-GMO cultured wagyu patties in the skillet. Image credit: Mirai Foods

Swiss cellular meat startup Mirai Foods raises $4.5m with second seed close

March 16, 2021

Mirai Foods — which claims to be Switzerland’s “first and to date only cultivated meat startup” — has raised $2.2 million in a second close of its seed round.

The second tranche followed an earlier seed capital injection that closed in January this year, bringing the company’s total for the seed round to $4.5 million.

New and existing investors in Mirai Foods’ seed funding included German family office FRIBA Investment, Swiss VC firm Skyviews Life Science, German venture builder Team Europe, and PINC – the corporate VC arm of Finnish food and beverage company Paulig.

Swiss serial entrepreneur and tech investor Ulf Claesson — who has previously served in executive roles at Hewlett-Packard and IBM, and has managed spin-outs from Ericsson and Intuit — also participated in the round in an individual capacity.

Mirai Foods co-founder and CEO Cristoph Mayr told AFN that he believes the oversubscribed seed round is now pretty much closed.

“We have already raised more money than planned. We see continued strong interest from investors and might take on a very small additional allocation from the right investor,” he said.

The Zurich-based startup is cultivating meat products in the lab using animal stem cells, driven by the objective of addressing the negative environmental and ethical implications of live animal agriculture.

It says its product development efforts are guided by “EU consumer preferences,” with a “focus on producing a healthy product.”

Mirai is working on cultured beef in the first instance, given that particular meat’s greenhouse gas footprint; in the longer term, it aims to produce a variety of different meat products. For its first offering, it’s using cells derived from wagyu cattle – the group of high-value breeds originating in Japan.

While Mirai may be unique in Switzerland, it feels as if there’s no shortage of cell-based meat startups entering the fray on a global basis.

Also in Europe, Netherlands-based Mosa Meat — the first company in the world to create a ‘lab-grown’ burger, back in 2013 — closed out its Series B round at $85 million earlier this year, with high-profile investors including Merck, Mitsubishi, and Nutreco coming on board.

Farther afield, companies like Aleph Farms in Israel and Memphis Meats in the US are also making strides in getting cellular beef products closer to consumers’ mouths.

What sets Mirai apart from the competition, in Mayr’s opinion, is its strict adherence to its own first principles around health and environment – down to its avoidance of using any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its products.

“We are non-GMO, we are strong in operational execution, and we are laser-focussed on [developing] a healthy nutritional profile for our meat. We also have proprietary technology around our production process,” he said.

Mirai will use the seed funding to expand its headcount, enhance its in-house lab capabilities, and construct a pilot production plant.

Mayr said a test market launch of the startup’s cultured beef product is planned for the latter half of next year. But if you’re interested in being among the first to give it a try, be prepared to pay a pretty penny – for the time being, at least.

“The price points at that time will be on the expensive side [but the main objective] is to create awareness and to offer early adopters a truly special experience. Mass-market price points should be achievable around 2024 to 2025,” he said.

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