Startup accelerator Y Combinator has made its first investment in a cultured meat company with the addition of Orbillion Bio to the Winter 2021 cohort. Prior to joining YC, Orbillion participated in both the Brinc accelerator and Big Idea Ventures NYC program.
Orbillion’s focus is on cultivating higher-end meat products such as elk, lamb, and Wagyu beef. To develop these products, the company runs multiple cell lines through bioreactors, screening the cells and isolating those best suited to commercial food scale production. Machine-learning software helps pick out the best tissue and media combinations with which to make meat analogues.
The company told TechCrunch this week that its first product will be a Wagyu beef product that will be more of a minced product than a whole cut of steak. Orbillion plans to get that product into the market in 2023, though in what capacity (e.g., a restaurant) the company did not say, nor did it elaborate on which market.
The goal is to eventually provide the kinds of craft meats one would purchase not from the grocery store but from a high-end butcher shop.
The focus on high-end meats may allow Orbillion’s products to reach price parity with their traditional counterparts sooner than other cultured meat companies. The company also says it wants to bring the cost of its products down even further, so that they actually become more affordable than traditional high-end meats. That idea is in keeping with recent comments entrepreneur/investor Jim Mellon shared with The Spoon, that meat made via cellular agriculture will eventually become more affordable than traditionally farmed meat.
Nor is Orbillion the only company veering away from the usual chicken, pork, and beef staples and developing premium cultured meats. Vow, in Australia, develops cultured meat products from a library of cells that includes kangaroo, alpaca, and lamb, among others. The company raised $6 million at the beginning of 2021.
For its part, Orbillion aims to get a pilot plant up and running by the end of 2022, which the company says will take roughly $3.5 million.