Israeli start-up is set to launch lab-grown collagen in 2024
Production will take place at the start-up’s new R&D facility in Rehovot and follows 18 months of research.
Developing cell-cultured collagen is part of the company’s strategy to offer sustainable alternatives to products derived from intensive cattle farming “as part of an inclusive solution for resilient and secure food systems”.
Conventional collagen is produced by boiling and processing cow hides and bones and is widely used in a range of industries. Intensive animal farming practices currently produce 70% of the world’s meat supply, but the meat itself only accounts for one-third of the animal slaughtered.
Aleph Farms aims to create solutions to establish local and global food security that embraces a comprehensive approach to sustainability. Cultured collagen will be developed from the cells of living cows, eliminating the need to slaughter animals during production.
Didier Toubia, Co-founder and CEO, said: “In order to truly supplement regenerative livestock practices, we must find new ways to produce a variety of animal derived products at scale.”
Cultivated collagen will be the first product developed by Aleph Frontiers, the company’s ‘deep tech incubator’, focused on the development of new technologies and products for eventual commercialisation.
The production platform will share similar inputs and equipment to cultivated steak, while presenting operational and cost-reduction synergies. It will leverage key elements, such as the bovine cell sources and animal component-free growth medium, to produce several nature-identical collagen types directly from cow cells.
The company maintains that the process expands the capabilities of cell-culture technology with a view to eventually replace the entire cow.
Dr Neta Lavon, Chief Technical Officer & Vice President of R&D, commented: “Our cultivated collagen includes the entire extracellular matrix (ECM) which comprises a variety of fibre-forming proteins and represents the complete matrix of skin, bones, and joints. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the ECM and is well recognised for its benefits.”
Room for expansion
The biotech moved into new headquarters in February, which includes a pilot production facility to support technological innovation and multi-disciplinary space for the growing team of more than 100 employees.
The 65,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility is located in Israel’s biotech hub and increases the company’s operational capacity six-fold
Eyal Rivlin, VP of production and operations, commented: “Our new facility enables us to scale our production capabilities and launch limited quantities of our steak around the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.”
The HQ was awarded a silver-level rating by the US Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, which recognises innovation in energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality and will be fully operational by this summer. An initial market launch is planned for the end of the year.
Aleph Farms was established by a group of food experts in 2017 on a mission to “feed the world and preserve the planet”.
The team has already developed a method for growing cultured steak from natural, non-GMO cells, without using antibiotics, as well as a self-sustaining food system to cultivate meat in space to provide astronauts with continuous access to fresh food.
Cultivated steak has physical attributes comparable to slaughter-based meat, which has not yet been matched by plant or fermentation-based alternatives.