Cultivated Meat

NZ’s Opo Bio Emerges From Stealth With $1.5M Seed for Cultivated Meat Ingredients

Opo Bio, a New Zealand-based biotech startup developing what it refers to as next-gen cultivated meat ingredients to supply producers of cultivated meat, announces the launch of its first product, Opo-Moo, a primary bovine muscle cell line.

“We want to accelerate the field by providing primary cells and cell lines for commercial use

Opo Bio concurrently announces a NZ$1.5 million Seed capital round led by Matū Karihi, syndicated with The University of Auckland Inventors’ Fund, Booster Innovation Fund, and angel investors.

Opo Bio science gif
© Opo Bio

Cell lines supplier

Opo Bio is a B2B cultivated meat biotech company founded in July 2022 by Dr. Olivia Ogilvie, Dr. Laura Domigan, and Dr. Vaughan Feisst using previous research carried out by Dr. Domigan at The University of Auckland. The company aims to become the leading developer and supplier of cell lines for large-scale cultivated meat production. Its initial focus is on cell lines –  derived from “high-health status New Zealand livestock” – forming cow and pig muscle, fat, and connective tissue.

Opo Bio’s CEO, Dr. Olivia Ogilvie, said: “We want to accelerate the field by providing primary cells and cell lines for commercial use. Our first product will allow researchers to focus on their big questions rather than spending time isolating cells.” 

New Zealand, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, plant-based food business
© Casey Horner/Unsplash

Developing cell lines is resource-intensive

Cultivated meat production at a commercial scale requires multiple ingredients, including culture media, growth mediums, and high-quality cell lines, which are the ‘seeds’ that grow meat, Opo Bio explains. The company adds that only a few cell types relevant to cultivated meat are commercially available, leaving a gap in the cell lines supply market.

In New Zealand, cultivated meat is still in its very early stages, but food tech interest has been growing using other biotech technologies. Fermentation companies NewFish, which makes seafood from fermented microalgae, and Daisy Lab, which develops microbial whey proteins, have recently entered the alternative proteins sector.  

“New Zealand has traditionally had a strong agricultural sector with high animal health and welfare standards, making it an excellent place to establish a cultivated meat company and build positive relationships with suppliers,” the company says.

Opo Bio’s primary cow cells are available for purchase via the company’s website. Opo Bio has plans to expand its portfolio by developing commercial bovine cell lines capable of growing in suspension bioreactors using serum-free growth by 2023.

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