Press release: Because, Animals
Because, Animals, the only biotech company growing cultured meat for dogs and cats, recently announced it has closed its seed stage financing round led by Orkla ASA, a European supplier of branded consumer goods to the grocery, out-of home, specialized retail, pharmacy and bakery sectors. Because, Animals is Orkla’s first-ever investment in pet food, and the first move by its recently announced Orkla Alternative Proteins division, an umbrella for emerging food technology brands.
“As a company deeply committed to health and sustainability, we see cultured meat as having interesting potential in terms of sustainability, animal welfare, and food safety. Because, Animals’ products and technology are truly differentiated, and stand out as a sustainable, healthy, humane way to feed pets. Their progress in developing cell lines, growth media, and driving down cost is impressive – all vital steps in bringing cultured meat technology to market,” said Elin Tveito Lidman, the recently appointed CEO of Orkla Alternative Proteins.
The closing of the heavily oversubscribed round brings the startup’s total financing to $6.7 million to date, with follow-on investment from SOSV, Draper Associates, Keen Growth Capital, and others.
“SOSV is proud to continue our support of the stellar Because, Animals team because we love animals, we love cruelty-free meat and we love game changers,” said Bill Liao, SOSV general partner.
With this investment, Because, Animals will scale up production, and accelerate development of its first commercial cultured meat pet product, a cat treat. In the near term, the company is also developing a nutritionally complete, plant and culture-based dog food to add to its current line of treats.
“Partnering with a major international food player like Orkla is exactly what we sought to do from the beginning,” said Because, Animals CEO Shannon Falconer, PhD. “We were not interested in just any corporate food heavyweight, we needed them to be firm believers in sustainability and the future of food, and we’ve found exactly that combination in Orkla.”
Because, Animals was co-founded by Shannon Falconer, PhD, and Joshua Errett, MBA, who both volunteered at the same cat rescue charity. In 2019, the company announced success in creating the world’s first cultured meat pet food made from cultured mouse tissue, the ancestral diet of the cat. Since then, the company has continued to progress on the scientific front by reducing the cost of their cultured meat by well over an order of magnitude, getting closer to commercialization. Among its breakthroughs, Because, Animals innovated a proprietary alternative to fetal bovine serum, an animal-based ingredient still heavily relied upon by other producers of cell-based meats.
Clean, cultured meat is safer and healthier meat for pets without any of the negative impacts associated with factory farmed meat, according to Because, Animals. In the United States, more than a quarter of the environmental effects of the animal agriculture industry are directly attributable to the foods that Americans feed pets. In addition to reducing environmental harm, cultured meat requires no animals to be raised inhumanely for slaughter, and poses no risk to pets and public health through bacterial contamination, antibiotic resistance, or zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19.
Because, Animals, founded in 2016, is the first and only biotech company bringing clean cultured meat to the growing pet food market. Because, Animals begins with humanely harvested cells, nourished by inputs to multiply and grow, for pet foods that are safer, healthier, and more sustainable than any conventional factory farmed pet foods. Because, Animals has innovated a proprietary alternative to fetal bovine serum, a growth medium inhumanely obtained from the slaughter of pregnant cows that is typically used to produce other cell-based meats. The company intends to release its first cultured meat products in 2022. Co-founders Shannon Falconer, who has a PhD in biochemistry and was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, and Joshua Errett, who worked in fintech after earning an MBA from Indiana University, both left their careers to start Because, Animals after meeting at a cat rescue charity. The company also offers a line of meat-free organic treats and healthy supplements for dogs and cats made from well-known cultured ingredients, probiotics and nutritional yeast. Investors include Orkla, Draper Associates, SOSV, Keen Growth Capital and others.