Uncommon, a cultivated meat startup based in Cambridge (formerly known as Higher Steaks), revealed on Friday that it has successfully raised $30M (equivalent to approximately €28M) in a Series A funding round. The investment was led by Balderton Capital and Lowercarbon.Red Alpine, East Alpha, and existing investors Max and Sam Altman, Miray Zaki, and Sebastiano Castiglioni also participated in the funding round.
The Startup plans to allocate the funds towards reducing production costs, seeking regulatory approval, and ramping up production at its pilot manufacturing facility located at Cambridge Technopark.
Additionally, the company aims to double its workforce within the next 18 months to bolster its capabilities.
Benjamina Bollag, the founder and CEO of Uncommon, explains, “From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by how our dietary choices can have a profound impact on our well-being. This inspired me to establish Uncommon, a biotechnology company that harnesses the potential of cellular science to address the most pressing health challenges, starting with cultivated pork.”
Uncommon, originally founded as Higher Steaks by Benjamina Bollag and Dr. Ruth Faram, utilizes RNA technology and induced pluripotent stem cells to create high-quality meat that is free from antibiotics, animal products, and gene editing.
Bollag emphasizes the pioneering nature of their work, stating, “The field of RNA was still nascent when we embarked on our cultivated meat applications in 2019. We had to start from scratch, using a first-principles approach. While it presented challenges, it also led to unique discoveries with broad implications in the wider realm of biotechnology.”
The foundation of Uncommon’s technology is induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough. These cells enable the transformation of any animal cell obtained through a non-invasive biopsy back into its pluripotent state.
This innovative approach allows Uncommon to achieve price parity with traditional meat more rapidly, scale its operations faster, and produce safer and healthier products. Consequently, it opens up a significantly broader global market compared to its competitors.
Uncommon asserts that its meat products offer a promising solution to meeting the world’s protein needs without the environmental impact associated with conventional livestock farming. These groundbreaking products require only a fraction of the animal resources typically required.
The company envisions that, once produced at scale, Uncommon’s products will be readily available, surpassing the speed of traditional farm-reared meat and providing high-quality sustenance to consumers worldwide.
With a long-term vision in mind, Uncommon aims to capture 5% of the global pork market by 2035.
About the Investor
Balderton Capital, a venture firm with a rich history spanning over two decades, is renowned for its support of Europe’s most promising founders, providing assistance from the seed stage all the way to IPO.
The firm boasts a diverse portfolio, investing in technology companies across various stages of growth. With a proven track record, Balderton Capital has backed successful ventures in fintech, B2B SaaS, digital health, mobility, gaming, and marketplace sectors.
Daniel Waterhouse, a Partner at Balderton Capital, expresses confidence in Uncommon, stating, “The cultivated meat industry faces formidable challenges, from material costs to regulation and scaling. We firmly believe that Uncommon possesses the winning formula to become a global leader that will revolutionize the way we consume and enjoy meat.”
Dr. Clea Kolster, a Partner at Lowercarbon, highlights the environmental impact of the meat industry. She emphasizes Uncommon’s mission to create a healthier future by harnessing RNA technologies to produce cultivated pork belly and bacon, which could potentially reduce carbon emissions per pound by up to 52% compared to traditional pork.
Kolster also emphasizes the importance of visionary founders like Benjamina in driving transformative change in our eating habits and reducing the environmental footprint of the meat industry.