29 April 2022
On 14 April, the Dutch government announced that it would allocate € 60 million to support the formation of an ecosystem around cellular agriculture. It represents the largest public funding into the cellular agriculture field ever, globally.
Cellular agriculture, with cultivated meat as its emblematic product, is the technology to produce animal products directly from cells outside of an animal: it is therefore a product derived from an animal, with the same characteristics and nutritional value, but without the need to kill or maintain large numbers of animals in industrial conditions.
The funding is awarded under conditions by the National Growth Fund, which aims to create structural economic growth by investing in the public domain to support innovative economic sectors.
This financial impulse represents a first step towards funding a larger growth plan proposing to invest € 252 – € 382 million in cellular agriculture, specifically stimulating cellular agriculture education, academic research, publicly accessible scale-up facilities, societal integration (including farmers and consumers) and innovation. The broader growth plan is projected to generate an incremental €10 – €14 billion in Dutch GDP growth per year by 2050, with considerable benefits for animals, the environment and global health.
The National Growth Fund Committee said about cellular agriculture:
Although the products are not yet on the shelves, the science is promising and the first companies are already active. The committee is pleased with the potential and the parties involved.”
The proposal for funding was made by a newly created consortium of 12 organisations (academia, NGOs, startups, industry) called Cellular Agriculture Netherlands. The group is currently shaping the executive teams and governance structure to start executing the proposed growth plan as soon as the funds become available, which is expected to be towards the end of 2022 after meeting a specific set of conditions. The team will also reach out to potential partners in the Netherlands for execution of the programs.
The Netherlands has a strong history of innovating food production. This public investment in cellular agriculture is a demonstration of the Dutch government’s commitment to building an agricultural ecosystem that is healthy and sustainable for both humans and animals. In combination with reforms to traditional farming, cellular agriculture can be an additional tool to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for protein.
While individual cellular agriculture companies have been successful in attracting private funding, the National Growth Fund financing is explicitly aiming to support the public part of the ecosystem. The expectation is that this impulse will attract more companies, more funding, and more collaboration across the cellular agriculture field in and with The Netherlands over the next few years.
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