UK start-up raises $30M to scale cultured meat using RNA technology

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Uncommon
Image: Uncommon

Related tags cell-based meat cultivated meat cultured meat

Uncommon, formerly called Higher Steaks, leverages RNA, the molecule that contains the chemical instructions that direct cells’ natural machinery into making a protein, to create cultivated bacon and pork belly from animal cells.

The Cambridge-based company said this unique approach enables the company to more quickly reach price parity with conventional meat, scale faster and create safer, healthier products without the use of gene editing, opening up a much wider global market than its competitors.

Uncommon claims that its novel approach to cellular agriculture promises to radically accelerate the availability of cultured meat. Extensive research, based on Nobel Prize-winning findings and pioneering biomimicry, utilises exceptional insights to build complex proteins and fats that are packed full of authentic flavour and nutritional benefits. This technology does away with the need for antibiotics, animal products or toxic small molecules and drastically reduces the raw materials needed for alternative protein production.

From a young age, I have always been aware of how diets and food choices can have a disproportionate impact on our health. This led me to found Uncommon, a biocreation company that uses the power of cells to tackle the most pressing challenges to our health, starting with cultivated pork,”​ said Benjamina Bollag, founder and CEO of Uncommon.

As the only cultivated meat leveraging RNA technologies, we believe we have a competitive advantage that could help us become the largest protein company in the world. I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made so far as a company and look forward to working closely with our new and existing investors to continue to build on this progress and make a difference to global health.”​ Once achieved at scale, Uncommon claims its products will be able to be delivered more quickly than farm reared meat, providing quality food to consumers worldwide. The cellular alchemy unlocked by Uncommon’s unique and adaptable technology heralds a cost efficient future for cellular agriculture that sidesteps regulatory hurdles to deliver a sustainable and delicious product.

Furthermore, with over a third of the world’s total antibiotics used solely on pigs in China, and antibiotic resistance predicted to kill more people than cancer by 2050, cultivated meat offers a sustainable solution. Uncommon aims to own 5% of the global pork market by 2035, and claims the cultivated meat sector is expected to reach $427B in value by 2040, although only Singapore and the US have approved it.

It also claims that where the plant-based market has failed to win over consumers, cultivated meat is set to have an impact and wrestle share from the meat industry.

To support its development, the company has raised $30 million in Series A funding, bringing the total raised to $35 million. The funding will be used to continue to bring the cost of goods down, apply for regulatory approval, and scale up production at its pilot manufacturing facility at Cambridge Technopark, whilst doubling the team over the next 18 months to further expand the company's capabilities.

The Series A round was led by Balderton and Lowercarbon, with participation from Red Alpine, East Alpha and previous investors Max and Sam Altman, Miray Zaki and Sebastiano Castiglioni.

The cultivated meat industry faces significant challenges, from the cost of materials to regulation and scaling. We’re convinced that Uncommon has the formula to become a global leader that will transform how we eat and enjoy meat. We’re excited to be backing Uncommon and look forward to working with Benjamina and the team as they embark on this next growth stage,”​ said Daniel Waterhouse, Partner at Balderton.


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