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    UK cultivated meat investments shoot up 400 per cent in 2022

    Photo: iStock

    New data reveals the UK’s cultivated meat sector raised £61 million in 2022 – nearly five times more than in the previous year – despite strong economic headwinds.

    The Pitchbook figures, released by international nonprofit the Good Food Institute (GFI), show British companies dominated European cultivated meat investment – with companies in the rest of the region raising £45m in 2022.

    Examples include Newcastle’s 3D Bio-Tissues, who recently announced they had developed the world’s first 100% cultivated steak. Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Roslin Technologies have achieved a breakthrough that could reduce the cost of cell culture media – one of the biggest barriers to commercialising cultivated meat. And Oxford’s Ivy Farm moved into a new headquarters last year featuring expanded R&D facilities and a test kitchen.

    GFI’s figures show that plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation companies across the UK and Europe raised a combined total of £510m in 2022 – nearly 24 per cent more than the previous year.

    However, global investment in sustainable proteins decelerated last year, from a record-breaking £4.1 billion in 2021 to £2.3bn last year – reflecting a marked decline in wider venture capital investment.

    British plant-based companies raised £43m in 2022 – more than the sector raised in the five years to 2019.

    The UK’s fermentation companies, which use microbes like yeast to produce meat, eggs and dairy, attracted £33m – the second highest figure on record.

    Investor confidence in sustainable proteins has held up well against a backdrop of investment halving across the UK’s wider biotech industry, from £2.5bn in 2021 to £1.2bn in 2022.

    However, GFI has called on the UK government to match the record level of investment in British cultivated meat companies with a supportive policy framework, including a clear path to market and boosting public investment in sustainable protein research and development.

    Concern is mounting within the UK’s sustainable protein sector that planned cuts to R&D tax credits for small companies will hold Britain’s nascent industry back.

    According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, plant-based proteins have the highest CO2e savings per dollar of invested capital of any sector – but investment in sustainable foods is only a fraction of that committed to areas like renewable energy.

    A new paper from University College London, co-authored by the economist Mariana Mazzucato, finds public research and development funding helps encourage further private investment, accelerates the pace of innovation, and delivers long-term economic benefits.

    “The UK has the potential to become a world leader in cultivated meat and other sustainable proteins,” Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the GFI Europe, said.

    “But right now, sustainable proteins are where solar panels were in the 1990s. They exist, and they’re available for eco-conscious consumers who are willing to pay a premium – but they need investment to improve quality and bring down prices.

    “With countries like the US beginning to invest in sustainable proteins, the UK government must urgently deliver the promised £120m of investment to keep Britain competitive and create future-proof jobs.”

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