This startup wants to end lab-grown meat’s reliance on cow fetal blood. Get an exclusive look at the pitch deck it used to raise $2.1 million.

Multus Media: COO Reka Tron, CEO Cai Linton and CTO Kevin Pan
  • Billions of dollars are being poured into the development of cultured meat.
  • Lab-grown meat is developed by taking animal cells and growing them in a controlled environment.
  • Multus Media aims to drive down costs by removing the industry’s reliance on fetal bovine serum.

As the world becomes more conscious of climate change and eco-friendly food practices, investors have poured billions of dollars into lab-grown or cultured meat.

Unlike plant-based proteins, cultured meat is real meat, but doesn’t necessitate the slaughter of a live animal. Instead, it’s developed in a controlled environment from animal cells.

It’s been eight years since cultivated meat’s first proof-of-concept, but lab meat has not quite gone mainstream yet.

University friends Cai Linton, Kevin Pan and Reka Tron are on a mission to speed that up.

The trio formed Multus Media, a startup that aims to break the lab-grown meat sector’s reliance on fetal bovine serum.

“Cultivated meat really was the holy grail for moving away from what is a very broken system with industrial farming, and creating something where everybody can still have the same burger that they know and love today, but without the same impact on the environment,” Linton, Multus chief executive, told Insider.

The lab-grown meat sector has gone through immense growth in recent years with around $366 million raised by companies in the sector last year, according to The Good Food Institute (GFI), a charity focused on meat and dairy alternatives. For comparison, companies in the sector raised $60 million in 2019.

To grow meat in a lab, stem cells are taken from the animal and mixed with a cocktail of nutrients and proteins in “huge casks” that look more like a brewing process than a farm. This can be scaled up to mass produce meat alternatives including beef, chicken and seafood. 

Linton said he “very quickly realized” that the core challenge in taking this mainstream was the cost of production, and at the bottom of that was the cost of growth media.

Growth media refers to the liquid mixture of nutrients, fats, and salts that are fed to cells to make them grow. Currently, cow fetus blood, or fetal bovine serum, is commonly used for cultivated meat.

According to Wired, a liter of serum can cost up to $965, meaning a piece of meat the size of a burger costs thousands of dollars to produce.

Funded by their winnings from successful science competitions, Linton, Pan, and Tron began experimenting with their own serum in 2019. In March 2020, what started as a university project was incorporated as Multus Biotechnology, now known as Multus Media.

The founders, who believe their flagship product Proliferum M offers a “true replacement” to fetal bovine serum, have just raised a £1.5 million ($2.1 million) seed round to get to market by the end of the year. 

Linton expects Proliferum M, which is animal-free, to enable companies to grow cultivated meat at competitive costs, making it a viable alternative to industrial farming. The recipe is currently being perfected, with the startup looking at its ingredients and how they are made in efforts to drive down costs without compromising efficiency. 

The company bagged investment from SOSV, which runs the IndieBio development program for life sciences startups that Multus took part in, and UK-based Zero Carbon Capital, which exclusively invests in startups tackling climate change. 

Other backers include Australian family office Marinya Capital and angels Sake Bosch, of Prime Ventures, and biomedical CTO Alvaro Martinez Barrio, together with an equity-free grant of £106,000 ($145,700) from the UK Research and Innovation Council.

Multus saw an earlier cash injection of $250,000 at pre-seed, and over 50 people have reached out to the startup for a serum sample. 

Take a look at the redacted pitch deck the startup used:

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck

Multus Media pitch deck
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