Cultured meat startup Vow raises $73 million and launches its first high-end culinary brand

Vow Factory 1 opening cultured meat

Vow founders George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith cutting the ribbon on Factory 1 with NSW Treasurer Matt Kean. Source: supplied.

Australian cultured meat startup, Vow, has landed US$49.2 million ($73.4 million) in Series A funding led by Blackbird and Prosperity7 Ventures. And part of the cash injection is going towards launching the world’s first cultured meat dining experience in Singapore.

Vow is Australia’s first cell-based meat company and it is on a mission to replace animal agriculture with sustainable cell-based meat. For the company, it’s a matter of global urgency.

“Meat production is deeply problematic. From land clearing to water use, to the rising zoonotic disease outbreaks, to the repeated mass culling of diseased animals, our growing appetite for meat is creating increasingly dire problems,” co-founder and CEO of Vow George Peppou wrote in an article in October.

“In 2021 alone, the global increase in meat production was a staggering 17 million tonnes. All of Australia’s meat exports were less than one-tenth of just one year of global growth.”

Part of the funding will go towards building its second factory as well as rolling out its first product. Vow hasn’t revealed what it is yet (but it assures us it’s very good) and that we can expect to see it “at a restaurant near you very soon”.

Peppou also confirmed with SmartCompany that it is planning to expand further overseas. According to Vow, it wants consumers all over the world to be able to try it.

“When Vow was founded, we knew to change the way billions eat we had to do more than recreate what we know,” Peppou said.

“By inventing new meats that are tastier, more nutritious and serve functions traditional meats can’t, we can have an enormous impact. We’re thrilled to be toe to toe with the best companies in this space, moving at speed to reach huge milestones with a fraction of the capital of other companies.”

Vow is bringing cultured meat to high-end dining

Blackbird partner, Samantha Wong, has been watching the Vow journey from the beginning and can also vouch for the flavour of the company’s next big adventure: Morsel. This is its first brand and it aims to bring cultured meat to fine dining. In an email to SmartCompany, Vow confirmed that it will be rolling out across multiple countries. But it will be first launched in Singapore with a Japanese umai quail.

“I first met George and Tim in 2019 when they were still working full-time jobs and we would spitball ideas about how the cell ag revolution might come about. I was so impressed by the singularity of their vision, their urgency and scrappiness, and ability to attract world-class talent that we led their pre-seed round when they were pre-product,” Wong said in an email to SmartCompany.

“Fast forward 3 years and their first product Morsel is about to launch in Singapore. It is delicious and unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before. I believe this is the moment that the world will wake up to the possibility of cultured meat as a new horizon for food that is more delicious, more creative and more sustainable.”

According to the Morsel website, this dish will be “for the daring few” and will take them on “a journey of cultured flavour previously unachieved”.

Morsel will launch in early 2023, though it is currently unclear which restaurants it will appear in. But interested parties are able to request an invitation from the website. I’m happy to volunteer as tribute on that one.

Opting for quail seemed like a big challenge, but according to Peppou, all cultured meat is difficult to tackle, but some more so than others.

“Large whole cuts are by far the most challenging effort we have worked on,” Peppou said to SmartCompany.

“We have the best scientists on the planet working on these problems day in and day out, so I’m very confident we will be able to scale up this very exciting technology.”

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