Novel Farms, Inc., a Berkeley-based food technology startup, has secured a significant Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Valued at $999,967 over two years, this grant recognizes Novel Farms’ contributions to the cultivated meat production field, particularly its proprietary scaffolding platform. The platform employs microbial fermentation and tissue engineering techniques and aims to revolutionize cultivated meat production by slashing production costs.
“We are […] grateful for NSF’s recognition of the disruptive potential of our scaffolding platform”
Novel Farms claims its technology enables it to produce the marbling and texture of real muscle cuts combined with the ability to scale more efficiently than other cultivated meats due to its highly customizable scaffolds.
Dr. Nieves Martinez Marshall, CEO of Novel Farms, commented, “We are proud to be rooted in fundamental research and are grateful for NSF’s recognition of the disruptive potential of our scaffolding platform.”
The primary obstacle faced by the cultivated meat industry has been the high cost of cell culture media, Novel Farms claims. To tackle this challenge head-on, Novel Farms’ Phase II initiative is geared toward further reducing media costs by refining its scaffolding technology.
Leveraging funding for operational expansion
Last year, Novel Farms successfully raised $1.4 million in a pre-seed round for its marbled cultivated pork loin. The round received backing from Big Idea Ventures, Joyance, Sustainable Food Ventures, and CULT Food Science Corp.
The additional funding will enable Novel Farms to expand its scientific team and shift its operations from bench scale to bioreactor scale. This transition is pivotal in establishing an efficient and scalable cultivated meat production system and helping Novel Farms reach its goal of opening its first production plant by 2026.
Dr. Michelle Lu, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Novel Farms, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “Our Phase I efforts demonstrated the feasibility and potential of our innovative structuring platform, exemplified by the creation of a marbled and structured cultivated pork prototype. This progress, combined with our unwavering commitment to scientific rigor, has laid a strong foundation that has garnered recognition through this competitive award.”