“One cell can change everything” – Meet Meatable, innovators of a new method for alternative protein
Interview with Krijn de Nood (CEO) and Daan Luining (CTO) of Meatable.
Imagine a world where food security never comes into question. Where massive animal farms can be downsized and utilized for better outcomes, not only for animal welfare, but to help curb climate change and better our home. This is what the team at Meatable is envisioning with their innovative approach to cultured meat.
Using just the animal cells, they can create muscle and fat tissue to create real “guilt-free” meat. This way, Meatable can produce meat, without needing to slaughter animals, within 3 weeks. The ScaLABle-MEAT project aims to develop a technology to produce lab-grown meat based on Nobel prize winning stem cell technology.
The ultimate goal? To provide a viable alternative to industrially farmed meat.
The ScaLABle-MEAT project received a 3 year 1.2 million EUR award from the Eurostars programme, which supports R&D performing small- and medium-sized enterprises in international collaborative ventures. Selection is highly competitive, making the award a testament to both the strength of the Meatable business, and the excellent partnerships formed for the project consortium. Catalyze played a vital role during the process of attaining key consortium partners for long-term collaborations with Meatable.
We caught up with Meatable CEO Krijn de Nood and CTO Daan Luining this last autumn at the DSM in Delft, getting an intimate insight into their work with Meatable, which could change the way we look at food, forever.
The challenge of interdisciplinary R&D: building an effective consortium
With an excellent business plan, Krijn and Daan needed complimentary expertise in order to bring the ScaLABle-MEAT project to life.
Krijn: “In the end, it is a very multi-disciplinary field. We utilize many technologies, from cell line development, to tissue engineering and development of the growth medium. I don’t think you can do all of these things alone. Some research areas require external expertise, and I think that is what Catalyze have brought.
Of course, the funding is essential, but we see great value in the connections that we have forged, especially since our Eurostars award. Now we see companies are putting in funds and effort to adjust their expertise to what we need. And that’s something that we wouldn’t have had without you [Catalyze].”
Consisting of four partners, Meatable (the Netherlands), Bit Bio Ltd (United Kingdom), HCS Pharma (France), and Ebers Medicals (Spain), the ScaLABle-MEAT consortium represents a diverse and ideally suited interdisciplinary team. The consortium met for the first time at the project kick-off meeting on November 27th 2019, at the DSM Delft. For the project leaders Krijn and Daan, this moment was another chapter on their Meatable mission. We asked them if there was a time where they thought, “Wow, now it’s really happening!”.
Daan: “The moment it started for me was when I was getting equipment for the first lab that we had. It was a very special moment for me when things got up and running”
Krijn: “About a year ago, with the first seed investment round. I believe that this idea will change the world forever, and finding people who want to change the world with you in an amazing feeling.”
Since forming in 2018, there has been impressive growth
Achieving the Eurostars award was a major milestone, but as Daan explains, their journey over the past year has been full of highlights. From opening the lab, to speaking at external events and building excitement about their future contributing to alternative proteins.
Daan: “ Working on this project, it really is just a joy. You get to go to work, you don’t have to go to work. The first day the lab became operational and the first hire were both of course very exciting. As was the first cells grown in the lab, and the first high-end equipment coming in. Also attending and talking in conferences, and still everyday, talking to new people, hiring new people, seeing the team grow.
At first it was just the two of us, myself and Krijn. In the beginning we didn’t even have an office so we worked from my laundry room! Then we moved to a small office in Leiden and now we are in our larger DSM offices. It’s just been so incredible to see such fast growth and how everyone has put in the effort to make this happen.”
A project with global significance…
Krijn left his last job as a strategy consultant due to not feeling enough excitement about what they were doing. After analyzing the mega-trends and needs of where the world is going, he describes how he “learned about how alternative protein aims to remove animals from the food chain, and saw this as the most impactful thing to work on.” Now he never questions if what they are doing matters.
Daan: “People don’t want to give up meat- so we’re making a product that is exactly the same. You can enjoy it without the guilt. It is similar like an electric car. You don’t have to give up the things you love and need if there are better alternatives.”
Looking towards the horizon…
For Krijn and Daan, the successful start of the Meatable enterprise and the onset of the ScaLABle-MEAT project was just beginning of their journey. What comes next?
Krijn: “We’ll be utilizing our funding and support and turning our attentions now to regulatory processes and continuing our search for the right people to grow the team. We’re in a situation where people want to work with us and support us. For start-ups that’s not always the case. We’re lucky to be in this position and we make use of it as best we can.”
Daan: “And so much has happened already that it really feels like a lifetime working on it, in the best sense! And I really have to thank Krijn for pulling us up and getting this show going. It’s been the joy of a lifetime doing this.”
Closing remarks on a bright future
Daan: “Cultured meat has great potential, we are creating a new natural way to produce meat that is delicious to eat.”
Krijn: “Agriculture is a big factor with the Paris Accords, for example. It’s difficult to innovate with that, but with us, Eurostars and the consortium built with Catalyze’s support, we are now able to show concrete traction. Catalyze and Meatable teaming up to battle these large societal questions is a huge step. Ultimately, here we hope your takeaway is that cultured meat is a very important way to answer how we’re going to effectively tackle climate change.”
Catalyze is proud to have played a role in initiating ScaLABle-MEAT and to facilitate Meatable’s progress through our Project Management service. This project demonstrates the importance of receiving funding through the Eurostars program to get innovative ideas more quickly to market. Get funding, make impact.
Win: Eurostars 1.2 million EUR
Learn more about Meatable: https://www.meatable.com/