Israel’s BioBetter Secures $10M to Cultivate Meats Using Tobacco Plants

Israeli food tech startup BioBetter announces it has secured $10M in a Series A round to develop and commercialise growth factors made with tobacco plants.

“The field-grown tobacco plants offer a new, fast, efficient, and flexible response to the market need for more competitively priced growth factors”

Growth factors are essential in the cultivated meat process for cells to grow and multiply. The cellular agriculture industry depends on a limited offer of costly growth factors for its operations. BioBetter’s discovery could significantly reduce production costs by 300%, the food tech claims. 

Tobacco plants as self-sustaining, animal-free bioreactors

“BioBetter has pioneered a unique protein manufacturing platform for producing growth factors using tobacco plants as natural, self-sustaining, animal-free bioreactors,” explained Dana Yarden, MD, BioBetter’s co-founder.

Field-grown tobacco plants, thanks to BioBetter’s technology, can be used to make costly competitive growth factors like insulin, transferrin, and FGF2 necessary to make cultivated meat commercially viable.

“Growth factors form the key building blocks for cell-cultured proteins. But costs currently run anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 USD per gram of FGF2, for example. BioBetter’s technology has the potential to bring these costs down to just one US dollar per gram,” commented Erel Margalit, founder & executive chairman of JVP. 

New Facility

Part of the raised funds will be used to broaden BioBetter’s growth factors portfolio. BioBetter is currently recruiting new talent to double its workforce and increase farming activities in the area. Additionally, BioBetter has plans to expand to a larger pilot plant located in Tel Hai Industrial Park in the north of the country. The new site’s main goal is to increase its tobacco plant-processing capacity to meet the demand for growth factors in the cellular agriculture industry.

“The field-grown tobacco plants offer a new, fast, efficient, and flexible response to the market need for more competitively priced growth factors, declared Erel Margalit. “This is not only because of the sheer volumes of growth factors it can produce but also by virtue of its ability to substantially reduce their cost,” he added.

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