The Tatarstan Nanocenter Forms an Ecosystem for Cultured Meat Production in Russia
The AltFoodConf: Alternative Food Products conference held in Sochi on May 11 was attended by Maria Abyzova, Head of the Artmeat project of the Nanotechnology Center of the Republic of Tatarstan. She spoke about the formation of a research base in Russia to launch cultured meat production. The Tatarstan Nanocenter does this as part of the investment network of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP) (part of the VEB.RF Group).
The cultured meat technology involves the production of meat products from real animal cells grown in industrial bioreactors. The output is something like minced meat, made up of muscle and fat cells, and connective tissue. In the future, 3D bioprinting technology can be used to turn this mass into familiar three-dimensional pieces of meat, steaks.
“Slaughterless meat products at prices comparable to traditional meat products are expected on shop shelves by the end of this decade,” Maria Abyzova is confident.
Although there is no commercial production of cultured meat in the world yet, the industry is becoming increasingly attractive to investors and is developing an entire industrial infrastructure—from suppliers of raw materials, cell lines, nutrient solutions, and culture media to manufacturers of equipment, especially bioreactors. Some 80 companies from 26 countries are involved in the development. For 2016-2019, the sector received about $170 mln in investment, and for 2020 alone, it received $366 mln.
In Russia, the development of the cultured meat technology is being handled by Artmeat, which has decided to focus on the segment of Tatarstan’s traditional products: work is underway on reproducing horsemeat and sterlet meat. The company is also building a production ecosystem around itself. The Medium Well startup develops nutrient media for growing cells—the basic consumable material for the cultured meat technology. BioInk is working on a 3D bioprinting ink, which is a gel in which cells can survive and multiply. The material can be used to print not only muscle tissue but also skin for testing cosmetics and tumor spheroids used in research into new treatments for cancer.
Cultured meat will be fully in line with the most organic farm meat in terms of nutritional value, trace element composition, taste, smell, and health benefits. There is no need for genetic modification or the use of antibiotics in its production. This technology requires much less water, emits less CO2 and other greenhouse gases, does not require large tracts of farmland, and does not pollute soil and water sources with fertilizers. Moreover, living beings do not suffer at all.
The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was established in 2010 in accordance with Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.” The Fund aims to develop the innovative infrastructure in the sphere of nanotechnology and implement the educational and infrastructure programs already started by RUSNANO.
The supreme collegial management body of the Fund is the Supervisory Board. Under the Fund’s Charter, the competence of the Supervisory Council, in particular, includes the issues of determining the priority directions of the Fund’s activity, as well as its strategy and budget. The Chairman of the Fund’s Executive Board, the collegial management body, is the Chairman of the Board of Management Company RUSNANO LLC Sergey Kulikov.
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The Nanotechnology Center of the Republic of Tatarstan is a startup studio dedicated to the creation and development of technology companies, providing technology transfer from science to business and commercialization of promising developments. It operates within the investment network of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs in cooperation with leading universities and research centers in Tatarstan. It establishes and markets technology companies in new industries such as additive technology, biotechnology, agro technology, and new materials.