‘Essentially real meat, just grown differently’: Ivy Farm’s CSO on cultivated meat production and commercialisation

Dr Harsh Amin, who became Ivy Farm’s CSO last month, brings a long career in biopharma and biotechnology, with a particular focus on stem cell biology, tissue engineering and cell culture media development, to the table.

He spoke to FoodNavigator about the costs of production, the complexities of this process, and the path to commercialisation.

The cell culture media

Growing cultivated meat requires the same inputs as when an animal grows outside of a lab. The cell culture media, a mixture which provides these inputs, is central to the process of producing cultivated meat. It provides the basis of the process, without which cultivated meat could not be grown.

It is “the most important element as far as the industrialisation is concerned,”​ Dr Amin told us. “The majority of the costs, and about 60% of the cost of goods, really come from the cell culture media.”

The media can be produced with no animal products. “Our media system is fully chemically defined. We don’t use any animal products​.”

Once in a liquid form, it is important to keep the cell culture media safe from the external environment. “Media has different forms. You’ve got the powder – typically the large-scale media comes in the base powder. You hydrate it, you mix it and it becomes liquid.

At that stage you filter the media, when you do the filtration, it gets rid of any potential infections, microbial, microorganisms, and from that point onwards your media is sterile. So that’s when we protect it from the external environment. If we don’t then essentially that can contaminate the cells and you basically have no growth​.”