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This Midwestern startup just raised $ 1.6 million to make lab-grown lobsters

Madison, WI-based cellular agriculture startup Cultured Decadence recently raised $ 1.6 million in a pre-seed funding round to advance its mission to manufacture seafood from the laboratory. The company is working to grow seafood, especially lobster, from a small amount of animal cells to create seafood products in a new way that won’t harm the world’s oceans. Cultured Decadence’s laboratory-grown lobster is nutritionally the same as traditionally raised and wild-caught lobster, but is made with no waste products such as clams and organs, and may be available at a lower cost. So far, the startup has developed novel lobster cell lines and reduced growth media costs. His new funding will expand the team and continue development of a cell-based lobster meat prototype in preparation for a commercial launch.

Co-founders John Pattison and Ian Johnson met in San Francisco while working for other cellular farming companies, and while playing golf they discovered their shared passion for transforming the world’s broken food systems. While a number of startups are currently working on growing animal meat from cells on the West Coast, the duo moved to Wisconsin to found Cultured Decadence, the Midwest’s first cellular farming startup.

“The way we treat animals as a food source has to change if we are to thrive as a planet,” said Pattison, CEO of the startup. “Our team will be at the forefront of this change as we build the future of seafood a thousand miles from the nearest ocean. We are excited to partner with an experienced group of investors who share our vision and are committed to accelerating our technology to bring transformative seafood products to market. “

While Cultured Decadence starts with lobster, the startup’s technology can be applied to grow other types of seafood, including crabs, prawns, and scallops.

Seafood from the laboratory

Startups around the world are working on making laboratory-grown versions of chicken, beef, and pork. Some work in the seafood business, including BlueNalu from San Diego. In January, the startup secured $ 60 million in debt funding from international investors. This was the largest ever funding in the global cell-based fish industry. BlueNalu had previously outlined its plans for a laboratory-grown seafood manufacturing facility that would produce 18 million pounds of seafood on a large scale without the need to slaughter marine animals, and recently signed a lease on a 38,000-square-foot facility, a Six – times the size of the current BlueNalu range to make his vision a reality.

Emerging cellular agriculture must overcome several hurdles before laboratory-grown products can be brought to market, including regulatory approval. Singapore is currently the only country in the world where laboratory-grown meat can be sold. Eat Just’s cell-based chicken was approved for sale late last year. While the United States has not yet followed in Singapore’s footsteps, BlueNalu is working to get its first products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to test its cell-based fish in food service establishments, starting with Mahi Mahi. followed later that year by premium bluefin tuna.

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