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China's cell-based developer, Jimi Biotech, secures second round of funding within four months

March 18, 2023

Currently, many cultivated meat prototypes involve combining plant scaffold and animal cells in certain proportions to form the end product. However, the CEO of China's Jimi Biotech, the country's first developer of cell-based meat without any scaffolds, Zhehou Cao believes that cultivated meat products containing plant scaffolding cannot convince consumers who enjoy real meat products in terms of both actual taste and product perception. In contrast, 100% cell-based meat is closer to the taste and nutrition of traditional slaughter meat and is more easily accepted by consumers.

The cells used in the product were taken from young roosters in Hangzhou, and can be cooked in various ways, including steaming, frying, and boiling. Cao conducted a sensory evaluation of the product after trying it and said that the difference from traditional slaughter chicken in terms of color, smell, and taste was minimal, making it a very successful attempt.

Cao believes that the two biggest challenges facing cultivated meat at the present stage are cost and taste. In terms of cost control, the culture medium accounts for the majority, and Jimi Biotech has now reduced the cost of the culture medium to around ¥100 (US$14.52), which is only 3% of the price of the culture medium on the market. The successful development of 100% cell-based meat prototype represents a significant breakthrough for Jimi in terms of product taste, proving the feasibility of pure animal cell products without plant scaffolding.

It is worth mentioning that shortly before the release of this product, Jimi Biotech had just completed another round of funding, exclusively invested by Shiwei Capital. This round of ¥10 million (US$1.45 million) funding is the second that Jimi Biotech has received within four months. The previous round was around ¥20 million RMB (around US$3 million) invested by Plum Ventures, Fanqie Capital, Green Leaf Ventures and Joyvio Capital. Compared with the previous round of funding, Jimi has made more progress in reducing costs and building a underlying research and development platform - JEVOS (Jimi Evolution System), an automated, high-throughput, AI-driven cell evolution platform.

"Although only three months have passed since the last round of funding, Jimi Biotech has still made significant technological breakthroughs," commented Weichang Jiang, a partner at Shiwei Capital. "In addition to the rapid progress in core areas such as cell lines and culture media, we believe that Jimi Biotech's deep integration of automation and AI into the research and development also reflects the founder's emphasis on continuously improving research and development efficiency."

China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has explicitly listed cultivated meat as a key area for future food manufacturing in the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Agricultural Science and Technology Development. The National Food Safety Risk Assessment Center (CFSA) will also establish a special group for cultivated meat this year to study the regulatory framework of cultivated meat in China.

“China has the largest market for meat and a well-established supply chain system, so we believe that some of the world's leading cultivated meat enterprises will be Chinese enterprises," Jiang said. "With the attention of the regulatory agency, the industry is about to enter an important turning point in China.”

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