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London biotech Hoxton Farms opens first UK pilot facility to produce cultivated fat at scale

September 21, 2023

Hoxton Farms, the London-based biotech developing cultivated animal fat, has opened its pilot facility to advance research, scaleup production and develop prototypes with customers. Signalling the next phase of growth, the new site in the heart of London’s Old Street is the UK’s first pilot production facility for cultivated animal fat.

The site comprises 14,000ft2 including specialist cell culture laboratories, a food development kitchen, office space and communal areas. A hardware workshop enables Hoxton Farms to manufacture its own bespoke bioreactors, designed to optimize fat cell growth with much lower capital costs than industry-standard bioreactors. The design is based on insights from Hoxton Farm’s unique technology platform, which blends computational biology and mathematical modeling. The additional space also provides an opportunity to grow employee headcount from 40 – currently including 20 nationalities and 15 PhDs – to 100 people.

Hoxton Farms’ technology platform is key to the scalability of production and co-development of prototype products alongside early customers and strategic partners, whether food ingredients suppliers and distributors or manufacturers of plant-based meat. In the new facility, Hoxton Farms’ scientists and engineers will be able to increase production capacity to 10 tonnes of cultivated fat each year, with Hoxton Farms on track to reach cost-parity with plant oils at commercial scale.

“It’s no secret that the traditional meat industry is broken, but consumers are disappointed when they seek quality alternatives,” said Max Jamilly, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms. “But as people turn away from meat because of concerns over health, environmental impact, or animal welfare, flexitarianism is booming. Cultivated fat is the missing ingredient for creating irresistible meat alternatives, unlocking the delicious taste and experience of the real thing without the environmental or ethical impact.”

This renewed commitment to London’s biotech economy puts Hoxton Farms’ new facility at the heart of the city, demonstrating that cultivated fat can be grown anywhere. As the Government sets out a ten-year vision to make the UK a world leader in life sciences, the company’s growth highlights that the UK is capable of producing global leaders in the meat alternatives industry.

“By bringing cellular agriculture to the city on a wider scale, rather than a remote business park, we are in the best place possible to find the customers, partners, investors and talent that we need, and to raise awareness of cultivated fat in a market that has shown it is ready for meat alternatives," added Ed Steele, Co-Founder. "We’re excited to work closely with industry stakeholders as we seek regulatory approval for our ingredient, and guide the industry towards a tastier, fattier future”.

The new facility launch follows a £20 million (US$24.5 million) Series A funding round in October 2022, led by Collaborative Fund and Fine Structure Ventures, with further investment from Systemiq Capital, AgFunder, MCJ Collective, and previous investors Founders Fund, BACKED VC, Presight Capital, CPT Capital and Sustainable Food Ventures.

“The market for meat alternatives is forecast to reach US$17.4 billion by 2027, but its uptake is being held back by the taste, smell and texture – it’s just not as good as the real thing," said Jennifer Uhrig, Senior Managing Director at Fine Structure Ventures. "Hoxton Farms is tackling this challenge head on, unlocking the power of biology to reduce the impact of meat production on animals and the environment, while also adding that much-needed sensory experience for consumers. Hoxton Farms’ ability to optimise cost, scalability and time to market also demonstrates it can deliver a commercially viable product to market incredibly quickly.”

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