India can lead the upcoming $25b ‘cultivated meat’ sunrise industry: Study

India can lead the upcoming $25b ‘cultivated meat’ sunrise industry, Study
Cultivated meat, produced by ‘farming animal cells’ rather than the tremendously inefficient process of raising and slaughtering animals, is considered better for human and planetary health

CIIE.CO, in partnership with GFI India, has released a landscape study of the cultivated meat ecosystem in India. Cultivated meat, produced by ‘farming animal cells’ rather than the tremendously inefficient process of raising and slaughtering animals, is considered better for human and planetary health. Over the last few years, the industry has been developing at breathtaking speed around the world alongside other ‘smart protein’ categories such as plant-based meats, with investment in cultivated meat startups surpassing US$ 1 billion in 2021.

With tremendous global momentum in the cultivated meat landscape, more startups are coming closer to pilot-scale proofs of concept, facilities are coming online, and governments are looking to create a path to market for cultivated meat products. But where does India stand within this global space race to transform the future of food? The new study by CIIE.CO and GFI India answers this, and more, by drawing up a roadmap for the advancement of bio-manufacturing and the cultivated meat industry – a critical step towards a sustainable, secure, and just food system.

Varun Deshpande, Managing Director – Asia, Good Food Institute says, “With climate change, malnutrition, pandemics, and economic fragility proving themselves to be real and ever-present threats, we need bold, visionary investment in the industries of the future. Cultivated meat is part of a suite of smart proteins which offer enormous promise to build a more resilient, nourishing food system and a thriving, 21st century green economy. To transcend the Michelin-starred restaurants of Singapore and Los Angeles and form a pillar of that new economy in the Indian mass market, however, transformative technologies like cultivated meat need our world-class scientists, industry, and government to come together in a mission for smart protein. The advantages for India’s global competitiveness and self-sufficiency in building a sustainable supply of nutritious foods targeting malnutrition and creating lakhs of jobs will resonate for decades to come.”

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GFI India has been at the centre of the ecosystem in the country, with domestic startups Clear Meat and MyoWorks and biotech service providers Laurus Bio-inspired to form and enter the sector and a growing research community at institutes such as the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology forming through their work.

Vipul Patel, Partner – Seed Investing, CIIE.CO says, “Innovation and startup action around food tech has accelerated in the last few years. With changing awareness and customer preferences, entrepreneurs and innovators realise the need for infusing technology to create products for the future. We believe this is an opportune time to accelerate the momentum around cultivated meat and smart protein in general. Riding on the immense potential that Indian research talent possesses, we hope to discover and support many entrepreneurs in this space in the next few years.”

In the report’s foreword, Dr. Manish Diwan, head of Strategy Partnership & Entrepreneurship Development under the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) says, “The area of ‘smart protein’ presents an opportunity to create an exponential impact through next-generation solutions for contributing to food security, clean environment, conserving natural resources and more. This report lays out the global state of the alternative protein industry, the economic sustainability, and public health benefits of the sector and the value Indian science, business, and investment can offer with the vision to position India as a strong bio-manufacturing hub for innovative, affordable and accessible products for domestic and global markets.”

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The report combines insights from secondary data as well as in-depth interviews with multiple industry stakeholders including academicians and researchers, startups and entrepreneurs, policymakers, support institutions, and investors, with a focus on ecosystem building. It also lays out a granular stakeholder analysis, the current state of the industry, the opportunities they envision for the future, and the support they require to make this a reality. The success of the industry will rely heavily on scientific advancements borne by industry and academia alike. Bringing down costs and developing robust, scalable bioprocesses remain high priorities to advance towards a more secure, sustainable future – and India, with its robust biopharmaceutical industry, agricultural biodiversity, and world-class talent pool, offers immense value to the international smart protein sector in this regard!

Exactly one year ago, Singapore became the world’s first country to pass regulatory approval for the commercial sale of cultivated meat. Since then, the progressive city-state has built an enabling ecosystem supporting smart protein development, with an emphasis on cultivated meat.

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