New company sets out to produce cultured meat

Ajdovščina, 26 February - Ivo Boscarol, the founder and former long-serving CEO of ultra-light aircraft maker Pipistrel, has set up a new company in Ajdovščina, Tech4Meat, which will develop and produce cultured meat, and later also plants, from stem cells to help deal with the growing need for food on the planet.

Sharholders and staff of company Tech4Meat.
From left to right: Founder Ivo Boscarol and employees Matjaž Peterka, Marko Ušaj, Kaja Križman and Tinkara Pirc Marolt.
Photo: Rosana Rijavec/STA

"I am convinced that climate change will make it increasingly challenging to produce fodder for livestock. Experts say heavy rainfall with flooding will become more frequent, which will destroy forage, and long periods of drought will of course make it impossible to produce forage," Boscarol told the STA in explaining his decision to participate in this start-up.

Tech4Meat currently has two employees and several contractors, including employees of the Ajdovščina-based Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control (CO BIK), which is also one of the shareholders alongside Boscarol and his daughter Taja Boscarol and the CEO, Katja Križman.

More hiring is planned in the coming months and in three to five years the company is expected to employ several dozen engineers, scientists and experts in biotechnology and food technology.

Currently, the company is doing research, and the first products are expected to hit the market in a few years, said Križman, who used to work on similar projects in Singapore.

Meat can be produced from a single animal cell in a humane way in labs, which means you get actual meat but without breeding or killing animals, which is also good for the environment, said researcher Marko Ušaj, adding that the taste would be genuine, as the meat would me made from real animal cells.

Other food can also be produced this way. "Anything that can be produced by growing cells can be produced. It depends on what the basic cell is and how it is grown. Of course, there are still some challenges at the moment - what cells can be grown, how can they be grown, ... which ones will be economically viable to grow," he said.

At the moment growing cells is still quite an expensive process, so Tech4Meat will try to include locally produced ingredients such as legumes, plant food, plant products, fodder and even food waste into its development and production processes, said Ušaj.

The plan is for the company to have 15,000-20,000 square metres of labs and production facilities, Boscarol, who sold Pipistrel to US company Textron for over EUR 200 million in 2022, told the STA. He would not reveal the value of the investment.

"Given the promising demand in the sustainable food market, we aim to achieve a stable market share, which is expected to generate revenues of tens of millions of euros in the future," Boscarol said. Although the lab-produced meat market is still in its infancy, there are already companies near Slovenia working on similar innovations. Tech4Meat aims to become a key player in the market with its innovative approaches, ambitious goals and responsible business conduct.

© STA, 2024