Cai Linton was a Start-Up Presenter at Future Food-Tech London last year. We were keen to catch up with him, to find out their latest developments and to see what advice he would give to aspiring start-ups ready to disrupt the food system.
Can you tell us a bit more about Multus Media, and how you are disrupting the food-tech industry? What are your latest innovations in cell culture?
At Multus Media, we’re creating the key ingredient for cultivated meat companies that enables them to bring their products to market affordably and profitably. Soon, cultivated meat will take a single sample of animal cells to grow literal tones of meat, giving the same taste and experience as conventional meat, just with only a fraction of the environmental impact and without the need to kill animals or use antibiotics. One of the key challenges holding back this industry is the cost of production, where the feed, or growth media in this case, takes up more than 80% of production costs. Traditionally, animal blood serum is used to grow stem cells for biomedical research, but this is not only very expensive but clearly goes against the ethical and sustainability aspirations of the cultivated meat industry. That is why we’re focussing on creating animal-free serum replacements that are designed to meet the cost, scale and performance requirements of the emerging cultivated meat industry. Our first product – Proliferum M – is a high-performance animal-free serum substitute to foetal bovine serum for growing mammalian cells.
How have partnerships and collaborations helped you in your mission to develop next generation growth media for animal cells? Can you give any examples?
Although we cannot disclose any partnerships or collaborations at the moment, our products will be developed through collaboration with select partners to ensure that our in-house development translates to our customers cell lines and production systems. We have benefited from a strong support network built through events such as Future Food-Tech and continue to strive for engagement and collaboration across as many stake holders as possible in order to help bring cultivated meat and seafood to the world as soon as possible.
What advice would you give to an emerging start-up who has a vision, like you do, to transform the sector? What could they gain from attending the Future Food-Tech summit?
I think distributed innovation within this industry is really important and there are a number of challenges that remain including those surrounding technology, regulation and consumer perception. My advice would be to have a clear focus and break down your ‘big vision’ into business and product milestones that you can pursue in the short term. The cultivated meat industry is still small, so asking for advice, feedback and guidance will usually be met with people that are happy to offer their help so I advise you to make the most of that.
How do you think the current global pandemic will impact your priority to build a sustainable future by tackling the short-comings of conventional livestock farming? (over the short, medium and long-term)?
The global pandemic has really highlighted the fragility of the existing meat industry and has pushed food security concerns into the minds of policy makers. I think this concern, coupled with increasing appreciation of the climate crisis we are facing and the contribution by industrial farming, has favoured public and government perception for cultivated meat as a viable solution for stable, sustainable meat supply. Aside from delays in technological development and scale-up caused by the coronavirus, it seems the timescale for commercialisation may have shortened due to more support from policy-makers and greater market demand.
What’s next for Multus Media?
Right now, we have the funding and lab space to develop our first proof of concept and patent our technology, which we can use to create our first product – Proliferum M. Following our upcoming seed round, we will bring to market a complete solution for mammalian and avian cells that will help bring the first cultivated meat products to the world. Our goal is to develop a catalogue of serum-replacements across mammalian, avian and fish cell lines to cover not only cell proliferation and growth, but also the differentiation steps that occur further down in the production process to turn the stem cells into muscle and fat. The real value we are providing here is that cultivated meat companies will be able to buy our products to meet all of their growth media needs, and can be assured that we can meet the performance and scale requirements using food-grade ingredients. This eliminates the need for each company to have their own internal R&D division entirely focused on growth media development, and we can use the know-how and data that we generate to create a superior product than they could do on their own. This will shorten routes to market for cultivated meat companies, lower entry barriers to new innovators entering the space, but most importantly, accelerate the forefront of an industry that will replace the devastating impacts of livestock agriculture.
Find out more about Multus Media at multus.media