The ambition for cellular agriculture
We have worked together intensively since the establishment of our consortium in 2021. We submitted a growth plan for the National Growth Fund (NGF) and founded the Stichting Cellulaire Agricultuur Nederland. Here is a summary of our ambition.
Cellular agriculture (CA) is a radically innovative technology, by which animal products are made from cells instead of whole animals. For CA meat (popularly known as cultured meat), the meat grows from animal stem cells, which come from animals through painless biopsies. In the Netherlands, cells for CA now grow in an animal-free medium, thanks to a recent innovation (this is not yet the case in all countries). For CA milk, crucial milk components are produced by microorganisms through precision fermentation. In both cases, the cells produce the same animal proteins, fats, and the like as in conventional production. This allows products to be made with the same taste, structure, nutritional values and preparation as traditional animal products. CA- products are produced in a new value chain, which is better for people, animals and the planet.
Compared to traditional animal products, CA products have a large number of advantages: less impact on climate and biodiversity, less land and water use, fewer zoonoses and other diseases, less waste, controlled and transparent production. In addition, a CA transition offers the Netherlands both new economic opportunities and sustainability. With an excellent position and reputation in the field of innovative agriculture, biotechnology and collaborative culture, the Netherlands even has the opportunity to become a CA guide country and to stimulate a new, globally leading CA ecosystem. This is in line with the government strategy of "strengthening research and innovation ecosystems".
CA as a technique is still in full development and companies face a number of barriers they can hardly solve by themselves. CAN wants to help accelerate the development of this market by supporting:
- Training qualified personnel for the desired growth.
- Public knowledge sharing of technological developments.
- Building facilities to scale up, which requires high investments and specific engineering knowledge that is relatively rare.
- Social capacity that is reflected in broad support, societal initiatives, and suitable European legislation.
- Good conditions for the establishment and development of start-ups.
TThe Cellular Agriculture Consortium thus wants to eliminate barriers and build a fully-fledged CA ecosystem. The Consortium has been calling on the National Growth Fund for the implementation of this plan, see also the growth plan. The support of the National Growth Fund enables us to take steps in the first 3 of the following priorities. If your organization wants to contribute to this or to priority 4 or 5, please contact us.
1: Trained workforce
For the transition to a fully-fledged CA sector, it is important that sufficient people will be educated for the skills that the CA sector requires. At the moment there is no specific education for CA.
2: Public research
Through the Growth Plan, we want to make public research a structural part of the CA transition. We will develop programmes that address all relevant dimensions of this transition (biology, technology, environment, economic and consumer aspects, social dynamics).
3: Shared scale up facilities
In order to stimulate the CA sector as a whole, it is urgently necessary to invest in generally accessible upscaling facilities. For starting and growing companies, such installations are typically too risky and expensive. Their availability thus allows companies to innovate faster and more efficiently.
4: Socially supported transition
For the flourishing of the CA sector and its development as an integrated part of the agricultural sector, a broadly supported social transition is crucial. This includes such diverse things as experiments on different production scales, public exchange around pilots, social embedding through participative trajectories, tastings, and adjustments in laws and regulations.
5: Solid sector
As a result of the transition to CA, the business models of the meat and dairy industry are also subject to change. For the creation and upscaling of innovative CA companies and technologies, an innovation team and a start-up program will be set up, possibly also an investment fund. Wherever possible this will be done in collaboration with existing authorities.
Result of this ambition
A full-fledged Dutch social CA ecosystem will have the following characteristics:
- There is sufficient growth of talent and personnel with the right knowledge and skills to meet the needs within the (by that time) fast-growing sector.
- Dutch universities play an important role in generating the public knowledge and technology needed for the sector to bridge challenges as quickly and efficiently as possible, as a breeding ground for patents and new start-ups.
- The Netherlands houses two internationally renowned publicly accessible scale-up facilities, for CA meat and for CA dairy production processes. This allows CA companies to scale up quickly and efficiently from lab to industrial scale.
- Stakeholders from all layers of the population experience CA as an integral part of the Dutch agricultural sector. They have access to independent knowledge and the latest insights about possible impact and are actively involved in the transition.
- A complete Dutch value chain has been set up in which start-ups, investors and industrial parties can find each other, and in which innovation is stimulated and facilitated in order to take maximum advantage of new opportunities.
Together, these developments will lead to ever more sustainable food production and an attractive business climate for CA companies throughout the entire value chain. Dutch CA companies will remain in the Netherlands. New and existing foreign CA start-ups are establishing themselves in the Netherlands, and investors are coming up with venture capital to finance these companies and guide them through their upscaling.