Meatable brings government fund into $35m round for cultivated pork

Co-founder Daan Luining says the cultivated sausage and pork start-up wants to attract additional investors including strategics and plans to keep the round open through the end of the year.

Dutch cultivated meat producer Meatable raised $35 million in an investment round that included Invest-NL, a vehicle established by the Netherlands to support “societal transition tasks” through financing.

Invest-NL contributed at least $15 million to the round and was led by UK-headquartered Agronomics. The round was also backed by German venture capital firm Blue Yard; MilkyWay, a technology-focused venture capital firm headquartered in Italy; Royal DSM corporate venture arm DSM Venturing and Taavet Hinrikus, an entrepreneur and co-founder of currency exchange software provider Wise, among others.

Meatable co-founder and chief technology officer Daan Luining told Agri Investor that while the company considers the round its Series B, the recent slowdown in fundraising has made such distinction less important. He added the company has been encouraged by its reception against a challenging fundraising backdrop and expects strategic investors will play an important role in its effort to reach $50 million for the round, which it plans to keep open through the end of 2023.

Luining added that whereas Meatable may have preferred to raise a larger round, its strategy of building its investor base gradually has been shaped in reaction to market conditions.

“For the plans that we already had, $35 million was enough to show the progress towards market entry. We think that’s a very, very big inflection point which would allow us to go back again and raise the additional capital for the other part,” he said. “We just saw the VCs’ reaction to when we asked for big rounds and that’s why we started with $35 million.”

Meatable produces sausages and pork dumplings it expects to offer in Singapore next year and, over the long-term, in the US. It uses a proprietary process that it says produces real muscle and fat cells 30 times faster than rearing a pig on a farm.

“It’s closer to beer brewing than it is to animal rearing,” explained Luining, whose technical experience in cellular agriculture includes nine months as a researcher in a hamburger replacement projects at Maastricht University in 2014 and two years in a position as director of a unit within the Cellular Agriculture Society, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Luining explained that although Invest-NL invests on behalf of taxpayers and its benefits go directly back into the national treasury, it functions like a normal venture capital firm with no internal role played by the government. He added the public funding is part of a national strategy to support a broader ecosystem including universities and companies in cutting-edge sectors that can spur development benefitting the broader population.

“Of course, since it‘s taxpayer money, they are inclined to fund Dutch start-ups to create jobs, wealth and infrastructure and develop certain technologies inside of our country,” Luining said. “You can compare it to what the Danish have done with their windmill technology. They also have a state fund, they heavily invested in windmill technology and now Denmark is world-leading when it comes to windfarm technologies and development.”

Meatable’s latest investment round follows a $47 million Series A in March 2021 and brings total funding to $95 million. Capital from the round will be devoted to accelerating commercial launch through an optimization process aimed at reducing production costs compete with traditional meat.

Luining said the company currently works with Esco Aster as its contract development and manufacturing provider in Singapore. He added the company is in the process of determining its balance between outsourced and in-house production and manufacturing.

“We can see if there is a partner, or we can project finance or team up with other players, share facilities. All those flavors become available once you have a marketable product,” he said. “There are creative ways to combine efforts or partner up with someone to make sure you are not raising yourself into oblivion.”