Podcast #27: Andrew talks with Patrick Nonnenmacher, Co-Founder & CSO of Innocent Meat, who are revolutionizing the way meat producers produce meat by building an end-to-end cultivated meat production system.

Big Idea Ventures has launched our very own podcast “The Big Idea Podcast: Food”. Each week Big Idea Ventures Founder Andrew D. Ive will speak with some of the most innovative minds in the food space and talk about the exciting projects they are a part of. 

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TRANSCRIPT

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

meat, cell, fbs, people, bioreactor, produce, food, sterile, animal, scale, product, cultured meat, innocent, industry, world, processors, laura, process, lab, reach

SPEAKERS

Patrick Nonnenmacher, Andrew D Ive

 

Andrew D Ive  

Welcome to the Big Idea podcast where we focus on food. Today we’re going to be talking to the CTO and co founder of Innocent Meats, Patrick Nonnenmacher. Patrick is based in Germany and this is the first cell based and cultured meat company based in Germany. They’re doing some amazing things. Love to get you into the conversation and get your feedback and comments. Look forward to it. Let’s get into the conversation. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, Patrick, welcome to the Big Idea podcast where we focus on food. You are a co founder of Innocent Meat. I’m not sure if that’s a question or a statement. But it’s probably a bit of both. How are you today, sir?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Andrew, thanks for having me. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to take part in the podcast. I’m feeling very good today. Been busy in the morning, visiting the lab, talking to all the colleagues and then going back to the office where most of my days are spent.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Awesome. So you said go back to the lab and I’ve talked about Innocent Meat? Why don’t we let people know what it is that you guys do?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, of course. Basically, we’re the first German cultured meat company. So we try to make meat in a different way. We remove the tissue from the animals, and expand outside of them to create real meat, just made in a different way.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I think that’s one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard for cell based or cultured meat. Nice and simple. So you basically take the tissues of the animal, you take it outside of the animal, and then you grow it, you grow real meat in a different way. Awesome. Why bother? I know I’ve probably asked this question hundreds of times but why do you bother? Why does innocent me care about this?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Hard to start with that question. We have so many reasons. Basically, to be honest, one of the main points that caught me in the beginning was the scientific interest. I have been investigating things from when I was small  child and through my whole life, so an investigative scientist. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

And then I came across this idea and thought, Okay, this is something that is changing everything I know. Really getting into state of the art, technology and science and then I got more into detail and learned more about that topic, and learned how many good influences this kind of project gives to the world in terms of sustainability, climate change, which is really what drives us here. But of course making changes to food system, changing the systems and the way conventional meat is produced right now, concerning about animal rights. So it’s really hard to find one point why we are doing this, but there’s so many into just hard to explain that and in a short time period.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you mentioned science was what got you into it in the first place. Should people be nervous or scared about the fact that science is what’s driving this kind of area of meat production or food production? I mean, I guess some people sort of have this imaginary view of food being this, you know, this happy, smiling animal in a field somewhere that lives a very long and happy life grazing and then one day it has a pretty terrible day. And that’s how we get our meat. And does science have a role to play? Has science always had a role to play and we just don’t get that I mean, what is this something we should be scared off? There’s a lot in there. So by all means, pick any one of those questions you like.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I try my best to summarize it up. Basically, a long question put into short, I don’t think that anybody has to be scared. Knievel of cultured meat in general nor of the whole topic of science. Science is something that is in our lives everywhere every day. I have been studying plant biochemistry for na long time and basically there have been times when I was watching a tree and I was stunned by what is happening inside and every leaf is happening so much signs. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

The conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen and living material. Basically, we are surrounded by science so much in every day and also thinking about everyday situations or where customers are confronted with signs like genetically modified food, for example. A lot of people are afraid for example of GMO food. But there’s

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

There’s a lot of people that are super anti GMO and now you’re going to tell me, and I’d love you to one way or the other, but are you going to tell me now that they shouldn’t be? 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

No, no, definitely not, this is a tough, tough discussion and I would never tell anyone to not be afraid of anything, because I think being anxious, being afraid is the right of every single person. It’s our business, as scientists, to really inform them, to give them all the information they need so that they are not too afraid. Don’t be in need to be afraid, but we have, for example, a current situation where a lot of people are even afraid of, and asking us please don’t put genomes or DNA into my food. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

But this is just a misconception. Because in every living food like vegetable or meat itself, of course, there is included DNA because it’s inside the genetic material. This is why this food exists. So also inside of a normal apple, you find DNA, you find the science that is necessary for living organisms. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

It’s exactly the same for cultured meat. For example, you have the real animals walking outside, they’re moving because of the muscles they have inside their tissue and basically, this muscle tissue is made of single muscle cells. And this is bringing me back to the topic of cultured meat, were extracting these single cells from the animal, expanding them and making them back into muscle fibers, which are existing in the animals.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

 So it’s just outside of the animal. And if I would show you a sliced out muscle from the animal, it would be really tough when you see it under a microscope, for example, for you to decide, was this really from the animal? Or is it created in our lab? So there is no natural occurring difference in between that? So one could argue, should you be afraid of that? Because it was made in the lab? Because you’re not familiar to the lab itself? Or should you be open minded, because it’s basically the exact same material. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So just to summarize at least my understanding, and tell me if I’m right or wrong, under the microscope, cultured meat, or cell based meat that you guys can create in the lab is identical to the meat and the cells and the fibers that exist in a standard regular, everyday, ordinary animal.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, basically, you can really see when when you’re, for example, at extracellular signals like electro currency, you can see that muscle pumping. There are even sections when we look at our meat under the microscope, where you can see the cells spontaneously pulsing like a real muscle and they are doing that by themselves, because it’s really a living organism that you see inside here.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Wow. So and you’ve talked about making it in a lab? Should we be envisioning, as we sort of move towards a cell based or a cultured meat production industry, that there’s just going to be lots of people in white coats, running around with petri dishes and test tubes and things making our food? How does that making in a lab scale to making this food in the kind of quantities that make a difference to a more sustainable world?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, this is a very, very good question and it seems to be that not many people out there who have the exact correct answer or the exact vision of how that could look. This is something that Innocent Meat drove also from the very beginning, because scalability is required for a long time. There’s cell based meat and the idea of it out there, but scalability is, up to now, still the biggest issue. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So this is something we wanted to address from the beginning and it also was kind of included in our business idea, behind what we’re doing. So in the end, what Innocent Meat is trying to do is to develop a holistic bioprocess, which includes the cells hardware and processing it from the cell to the final meat product but we don’t want to produce that, hidden away in white coats, behind closed doors.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

We want to hand that process to the meat processors themselves, because they know what they need for a product that they want to produce. Sausages or ham, which you have in your daily life and they know exactly what they need in the raw product. So they won’t wear lab coats and lab glasses and be running around. So basically, they are working as food processors. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

They may be wearing a hairnet or something like you’re familiar with every butcher, for example and everything else will be automated in a complete closed system, which could be maybe best compared to a brewery. You have a big tank, and that is a closed system, nobody puts a finger inside and licks it or something so it has to be sterile but the coworkers are completely normal co workers as in every factory.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So it’s more like a brewery than it is a lab when you actually get to scale? That’s what you anticipate, right? And Innocent Meat has focused from the beginning, on not just can you do the science, but how do you turn that science into a scalable business model that you can work with and pass to food producers?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, exactly, exactly.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So one thing I wanted to just touch on, you talked about a sterile environment, not having a person lick their finger and put it into a barrel or something. I know that the industry previously called cell based or cultured meat, clean meat. And from what I understand, they were calling it clean meat because this is a way of producing identical meat, at a cellular level, to traditional meat. But with traditional meat, you need to feed the animal antibiotics to make sure it’s disease free, you need to ultimately slaughter the animal, which involves a lot of blood and potentially feces and other aspects of killing and butchering an animal. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Whereas producing it, as you say, within a brewery type environment, a sterile brewery type environment, you’re less likely to get the pathogens and the cross contamination of the butchering process into the meat production. It just doesn’t happen because you don’t butcher the animal, you’re growing just the meat cells. So it could actually be considered to be a much cleaner, a process that’s less likely to have challenges from a pathogen or a cross contamination or a drug in the food system kind of approach, right?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, definitely. Definitely. This is something we are also pointing out very, very often. I received a very interesting question during a presentation that I gave last week and that was from a meat processor, because he asked, okay, what is the shelf life of the final product? This is something we are taking seriously into consideration. Because the meat that we are producing never saw a single bacterium or fungus in its complete life, because otherwise we would grow more bacteria than cells. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

We would definitely notice that in a second. Imagine packing a completely sterile product, drying it or maybe just vacuumising it. You could store that kind of meat inside of a storage room at room temperature in the corner and leave it there for weeks. Do that with normal meat and you will have a problem.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I’ve actually never considered that, you’re right. It is completely sterile. It shouldn’t. But I don’t know, everything has half lives, right? Everything gets a time where it deteriorates because of the passing of time. But is it? How much of the deterioration of food is based on bacteria and related and how much of it is just the passing of time? So did you have an answer for him in terms of, of how long your meat will last versus traditional meat?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Sadly, we hadn’t yet analyzed it in detail. So an estimation I’m giving you here. I have to admit that honestly. We’re pretty sure a lot of the degradation processes and following processes are related to micro organisms. Of course there is the oxidation processes which are related to temperature or sunlight, for example, but if you really exclude oxygen out of the process, for example, you vacuumise it, the steroid product in a darkened kind of box, there shouldn’t be a lot degradation. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I wouldn’t guarantee you that you could store it there for years, but basically, this is also not our idea of the process, as when we’re handing our complete bioprocess to the meat processors, they can basically manufacture their raw product in a production hall, and transport to a production hall without any logistics, so you don’t need to have trucks and trains driving around through your whole country. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

And they process it directly to sausages. Of course, they’re meat processing machines, they are not used to be sterile, they’re just it’s an open kind of turning thing, you throw the meat in there, it get mixed, you throw in salt, and all the ingredients and make your sausage from that point, it won’t be sterile anymore. So from that time on, we’ll definitely have a usual kind of shelf life, we’re pretty sure about that. But it was just something that kept us interested. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

What would be the shelf life of a sterile packed material? We definitely think we would have a benefit and we definitely think that there’s no need for antibiotics that you mentioned beforehand, there is no chance that you could get any kind of pathogen, BSE or somrthing like that. So there are several benefits that we have during the cell based meat,

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Unless the original sales that you guys source have some of those kind of components in them one way or another.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Patrick, you’re, I think your video is freezing for some reason.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, my internet had a short break up. Sorry. I think I’mokay now.

 

Andrew D Ive  

So apologies for everyone, we won’t edit this out, just because I don’t know, it’s the real thing. Let’s just do it, do the real thing and hope you guys appreciate it. Okay, so just a follow up. I guess that means we have the potential one day to create all of our meat, and our seafood and all types of foods without any form of bacteria, without any form of microbes, etc. I wonder if we need them. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

I wonder if, in our microbiome, we actually benefit in some way from having some of the components within our food. I guess it’s a bit like if we live in a bubble our entire lives, eventually when we are let out of the bubble, we’d probably get the flu, the common cold, the measles, and probably every other thing within about 15 minutes of setting foot outside of that completely sterile bubble and probably explode or something. Not really, but you get the point I’m making. So I love the idea of, you know, of a cell based meat. Do we need some of these things in it or is the expectation that we actually don’t and having a completely sterile me is a good thing?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I think having a completely sterile meat is more a good thing. I’m definitely sure that having probiotic bacteria inside of the food can be beneficial. But most studies I have seen is that not a lot of these probiotic biomes are actually getting into your gut where they help. So basically, you’re pretty much fixed to your microbiome, just from the environment that you’re living in, with your whole life situation. It can change drastically. If you’re taking antibiotics a lot or stop moving at all, for example, your microbiome is noticing that and it will change its behavior and its compensation due to that, but not that much to what kind of bacteria you’re eating. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

The other point that I would mention to that maybe is of course we would never suggest someone Hey, just eat the rest of your life only cell based meat. I would always suggest you to eat sometimes maybe an apple or banana or something else. And not only meat at all, even if it’s not only cultured meat I wouldn’t also suggest to eat just conventional meat and nothing else. So I think you have definitely have the chance to get in contact with with bacteria and fungus that you would like to have.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Alright, so let’s now go into the business side of things. You mentioned Innocent Meat is the first German cell based or cultured meat company. When did you guys get started? You know how many people in the company who are the key people in the company today? I wonder if you can give us a little bit of background on Innocent Meat?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, of course, happy to do that. It took a while. Quite a long journey to be here today. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I first came across Innocent Meat four and a half years ago, in April 2017. Back then I was just finishing my studies here. Was sitting on packed luggage ready to move for my PhD to Switzerland. Then I met Laura for the first time, and she told me she had heard about cell based need. She has a business and IT background and I was a biochemist back in those days. I’m still am, of course. Laura asked me to help her find intelligent people that could show her how to start all that? Because she wanted to do that? So I said, Okay, let me see in my network. So I ran into it and pretty fast came to the idea that this was way more interesting than what I was going to do in Zurich. So I canceled that and I stayed with Laura. So the team was just Laura and I back in the beginning.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

 Laura was responsible for looking for investments, and doing all the organizational stuff. What do you need to open up a lab in Germany, all the registration stuff, and I was writing the scientific planning. So how will we do everything? What should we do, when and also the scientific network we are working with a lot of great partners here in Rostock and around the world to make our vision come true. This is what we did for more than three years while doing our usual jobs. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So both of us have been working during day and during night, we became kind of Innocent Meat drivers, passionate about doing what we love. And finally, we had the chance to meet you guys too. We came across Big Idea Ventures that gave us the opportunity to start with the accelerator, moving into the labs of the University of Rostock, where we really got to keep the thing rolling. We got into the lab, isolated our first cells, showed that we were really capable of that project and showed pretty fast, good results. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Today, we’re running very happy with our project schedules. Meanwhile, we are four researchers in total, and still Laura is running the complete business on her own. We’re a pretty cool team, we have fun every day, I guess, at least they say to me, it’s already decided, okay, he’s my boss, I have to be nice to him. But we were enjoying every day basically here enjoying the chance that we get that we really can make a change to the food industry to the system’s bringing all our ideas into. We’re hiring three more researchers, for 2022. So expanding the team, getting more projects, more collaborations with partners from universities to really accelerate the projects we have.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you mentioned your business model is not just you know, can you manufacture or can you create cell based meat. We’ve had a number of companies throughout the world now prove that it can be done. We’ve had that sort of aha moment and our hand waving in the air and running down the street semi naked. We’ve done that already. Now we’re sort of, an I know that this is Innocent Meats focus, we’re driving towards how do we turn that into something that can positively impact the world? How do we scale it so that we can create meat in a more sustainable way? What are some of the challenges that you guys are grappling with now? or have grappled with, you know, since the beginning, as you move from Can you do it? to How do you scale it?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, there are several factors, I would say when you talk about scalability, it’s mostly related to the buyer process. So the cells, everybody shows you can handle them, you can expand them, you can differentiate them in small scales. So the cell system is something where you also can’t change a lot. So basically, the cells are the cells, and you could, of course, modify them genetically, and then they can do everything you want. They could glow in the dark if you’d like to. But nobody’s interested in that. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Don’t say that. Don’t scare people like that, you’re gonna have people taking that one sentence out of your entire interview and going crazy over it. Come on now bring it back to normality.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I promise we won’t do that. We won’t do that. No, I was just kidding. Basically, the bioprocess is the thing that concerns us the most in the beginning, and it starts for us with scaffolding. So basically, most of the cells that the cell based meat industries are using are so called adherence dependent cells. So they need to grow on a surface. What scientists did during the last decades, was to grow them on plastic surfaces and coated them with specific proteins, which the cells know from the connective tissue in our bodies, and they grow on that. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

But if you imagine you want to grow tons of cells for the meat industry, on two dimensional plastic platforms, you would need a lot of space to grow the cells. So this is not applicable. The challenge we have in the industry is to create as much surface as possible in the smallest volume and this is the scaffolding idea that drives all the cell based meat companies. There is nothing out there that is used in farmer technology, for example, because this is where a lot of technology is coming from. Basically, they have been cultivating cells for decades already. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

We’re using a lot of technology from them.  This is something we have addressed quite early and put our efforts into creating edible carriers that can remain the product and we can grow cells on them in huge masses, and we can throw them basically into every bioreactor that is produced around the world. So this wasn’t something that we have been very concerned about, but we happily made our first prototype products that were very, very good for our processes. And the next part of the processes is the bio reactor itself. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So we talked about breweries in the beginning, where you have these huge tanks, where you can put a lot of liquid in and this makes it a bioreactor. You have a closed system, which you can heat to the temperature you require, for example, for us, it’s most of the time 37 degree, like we have in our body, like animals have it in their body. You want to supply them with all the gases for example, oxygen, co2, and nitrogen, you can really call it an EIGHT gas consumption inside there. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

You can kind of pour media in and pour media out in a sterile way. And you can have a close buffer system, so the pH value doesn’t change inside the tank.. So basically, these are the main drivers you have in the bioreactor. Technically, it wouldn’t be an issue to build that as big as you would like, of course, you have more energy costs to make that liquid inside and to heat it up, but the dimensions just change. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So, usually you compare the cell which is always the same size to the surrounding system. So is the wall are both walls very close to it or are they very far away and if you for example, are mixing liquid inside of it, you have a wave and how is that wave compared in this in each dimension and how is the strength this wave is applying to the cell compared to the different sizes of the bioreactor? And so this is a real big issue which all the industry is facing, and especially if you’re looking to conventional bioreactor systems, which are most often steered by director tanks, so you have a stereo inside of it, which you can basically compare to an propeller from motorboat, so you wouldn’t put your hand inside of that. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So it’s not the best idea put a very sensitive cell inside of that. So that’s also very, very harmful and something we have to consider. We also took our brain a lot into the idea, okay, which kind of bioreactor could we use, and there are pretty cool stuff out there. So we don’t have to invent everything from scratch. So we decided to use existing technology that is fitting to our needs and that is already scalable to several 1000 metres, so we decided to use that and just upscale, kind of so making more of these directors and put in production plan in that way.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So one of the assumptions I’ve made, and I think other people make, is that our ability to scale this technology to a size which makes it feasible is driven by cost. In other words, the growth factor traditionally or the gross serum has traditionally been FBS. FBS was an ingredient or a chemical, I don’t know how you’d like to describe it, but was used in the pharmaceutical industry and was quite expensive even in very, very small quantities. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

So the ability to scale, the cell based or the cultured meat industry, is going to be expensive if we need huge quantities of this growth serum. In addition, bioreactors are typically quite expensive, and you’re capped in terms of what can be produced over what time period based on the number of liters a bioreactor is. And that, from what I understand, is the key measure of size from a bioreactor perspective. When I started getting involved in the industry, which was a little while ago now, I asked people is this a ithree year cycle? Or is this a five year cycle? How long is it going to be until we’re able to produce meat in this way, that is cost comparable with the traditional meat industry?

 

Andrew D Ive  

And that’s an incredible ask, because the meat industry is what they call processing animals in such huge quantities in such a sort of mechanized, automated way, producing anything at all, at a price comparable, when you’re using that much automation, that much process, that much scale, is just incredibly difficult that they’ve created an industry over decades, perhaps centuries, that is just optimized, like mad.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Right. So lots of questions there. One of the main questions, is what are the kind of key constraints from a cost perspective, that stopped cell based being commercially viable? I guess that’s question one. And Question two is, are we still on a three year to five year horizon, even though I’ve been in this business now for more than three and five years? And we haven’t got there yet? Or is it further out than that, in your opinion? So I don’t know which one you want to tackle first? Or if you don’t want to tackle any of them? Just tell me we’ll go ask you something completely different. But those are my kind of questions right now.

 

No, no, I love that question. This is something, every discussion about culture media, is pointing to in the end and this discussion always comes up. I’m happy to discuss that, because this is something we’re discussing inside of our team on a weekly basis, at least once a week. So there are a lot of factors, but I would break it down to two main drivers for cost in the cultured meat sector.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

 I would say first is the cell culture median. So we have to supply the cells with nutrients and everything they need and this needs to be reduced drastically. Basically, there are assumptions that 55 to 95% of the complete costs of the final product are related to the cell culture medium. So this is a big span. Of course, 55 to 95% is a huge difference. But definitely we can be sure that it will be more than 50%. So that’s a major point. We have to reduce everything there but what we see right now is, because we are very closely related to the technology from the pharma sector, we’re using that starting material.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Most of the companies use the same, and what you see there is that everything inside of pharmacy products has undergone definite and intensive registration, approval and testing. So we don’t have something like food grade there, we have pharmacy grade and so every single sugar like glucose, or something you buy for these media is very, very expensive, nothing you get in the grocery store. So if we could reduce these costs we could reduce the prices drastically. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

This is one point, we always point out. And this is something we can’t do alone, of course, we have to work with all the registration departments there. We have to work with supply chain because this is nothing trivial. If we’re talking about Giga tons that we want to produce, we need Giga tons of all the supply ingredients needed in cell culture media later on. And this is nothing easy. You need of course, also a very good food grade there. So that still the ingredients are in the quad as good as you’d like to have them.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

The other point in the cell culture media is working, you mentioned before, signs used FBS for a very, very long time and basically, it consists of different signaling molecules that the cells need to grow and differentiate into the final tissue. Industry decided not to use FBS several years ago, because it has several downsides. You have batch to batch differences in these different lots. You have high pricing, you have changing prices due to the availability of the material, because it’s just a byproduct of slaughtering. It’s ethical, but not very positive and so basically, and it has the possibility to inherit pathogens for humans. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So pharmacy decided they don’t want to use it and they identified specific factors of the FBS, which is needed for different cell lines. So not the exact ingredient list is known, but we know which factors we can use. Then they are produced in, for example, bacteria, or in fungus, or in other cell cultures. That process is extremely cost intensive. So making cell culture to produce ingredients you want to use for cell culture is not that optimal, I would say. So we decided, for example, to grow them in plants, which is a very scalable and cost effective system which we have even longer than meat production. So we can really scale that we modify these plants to produce it, and then we just purify it and make it as cheap as possible. This is one way to reduce the cost of media forever.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So a couple of things. A couple of things I’d like to sort of unpack. One is free FBS or fetal bovine serum is no longer in the cell based slash cultured meat sector, the key ingredient to make sales multiply or it’s just you guys?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I would say most of the companies around the world try to get around FBS. I haven’t heard of a single company yet that is planning to use it through its whole processes. So when they reach market, we can be pretty sure that there won’t be any FBS included in it.

 

Andrew D Ive  

So it tries to get around that, the company’s tried to get around it, but have they managed to find a non animal based alternative that has the efficacy required?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I would say yes, of course, I can’t say in every single company they did that and they did that and decided if they did correctly and with efficacy. That’s not possible. But at least all the big players we know are out there. Huge shout out to these guys doing great job. They have FBS free media for their cell lines, and several other cell based meat companies we are in contact with, at least half media are working without FBS. Of course, this is a process that is taking time to make them more efficient. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Basically, because there’s always room for improvement I would say we can reach parity to FBS, but there’s still room to even improve and make it better than FBS. Take FBSO it’s an extract of blood serum of the bovine, and you put that into every cell line. But there are several ingredients in that specific product you are using it for is not needing all the material and so maybe some of these products that are in there are even inhibiting cells to grow. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you use exactly the same product for all cells, this is not optimal. So you can optimize that by deciding which factors are really necessary and it maybe beneficial to increase the concentration of one of that and decrease the concentration of the other. And then they are working maybe better together than even the natural the FBS system because you specify your salon and this is something we can do, which is not there in nature, basically.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So as you guys are focused on the full system, how to scale cell based cultured meat? In your opinion, what are the key barriers to scale still today? And what is it? Is it very much around the scaffolding that you mentioned previously? As is what is like the the key challenge of scale? Is it the set, you know, the growth factor? Is it the bioreactor? Or is it all of the above are there things were not even considering as a challenge, which are still part of that that issue?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I think scaffolding is one one major point, definitely but there are systems out there and I believe we have a very good system here already. So this could be something we could really tackle in the close future to have scaffolds that are working properly to our needs. But of course, then there are a lot of other factors. For bioreactors, definitely, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

But I would say we should rather focus on process intensification, then on scaling the processes just by increasing the size of bioreactors, for example, what I mean by that is cell densities is a very, very specific factor we are deeply into. So if you have, for example, a 10,000 litre tank, and you’re producing one single cell per liter, you’re not having big amounts that you can harvest in the end. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you could possibly think okay, to have more material, in the end, I increase the size of my bioreactor from 10,000 liter to 20,000 liters, so I have twice the amount, but if you can increase the density, so the concentration kind of you have 10,000 cells, 10 million cells, up to 200 million cells, which we are aiming for basically, you can really increase the amount of tissue you can produce the amount of product you can use, without increasing the footprint of your machines. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you can really intensify your processes, increase the yield, this is something we have to consider. And these are the processes, we are focusing a lot to, to really reach this very, very high cell densities in a reproved reproducible manners. And then when we achieve that, we can increase the volumes we can produce, by putting more machines next to each other in each other that are highly efficient. This is the approach we are using.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Fantastic. I also asked the question of, you know, when I first got into this space, which which now is, I think five, five or six or maybe even seven years ago, something like that. I was asking the thought leaders at the time, you know how long until we can scale to commercial viability. You know, how long until cell based is in the marketplace. And at the time, 5,6,7 years ago, I was told three to five years. And it’s been you know, seven years since then. And we’re not there yet. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

And you know this happens. The funny thing is I ask people every so often, how long is it going to be and I get three to five years as the answer. I don’t know why those numbers are the ones people tend to pick when asked something like this. I could ask you, but for God’s sake, don’t tell me three to five years. I mean, actually, you can tell me whatever you like, but from your point of view, given that you guys are specifically focused on the system, and how to make the system work at scale, and ultimately give this system or work with or sell their system to meat producers to give them you know, new ways of producing meat for their customers and so on. Are you anticipating that this is a three to five year cycle? Or is it more likely to be a little bit longer than that?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, it really depends highly on what you see us reaching the market. So we truly believe I’m very sorry for telling the numbers but in 2025, we aim for our first pilot plan to put that at the side of our first partner at a meat processor. So they can put these kind of 1000s of times or not 1000s and 1000s of kilograms, so they can produce several times. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So you could supply a small meat shop, for example where everybody can taste it and enjoy it on a daily basis but you never reach something that a meat processor would use to produce all his products from. So to really reach millions of tonnes of material, we need way more than five years, you can be sure about that. But for reaching the first pilot plan where a meat processor can make his first pilot product for putting onto the shelves, this is something we really aim to have in 2025,

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Which is four years. So when I say three to five years, you guys are saying four years awesome. One thing that sort of might be relevant to that, as with all markets, you can produce certain quality at scale and often, if you want to produce a different quality or a higher quality or something that’s more desirable, it requires either more time or different processes. And smaller volumes, right? 

 

Andrew D Ive  

It doesn’t always work out that way but it can. So I’m guessing that is there a way for example, by 2025 in four years time, that you guys are not necessarily looking to produce minced meat that is inexpensive and sort of just run of the mill meat? Or are you guys going to be focusing more on sort of higher perceived value meat, which has a higher price point and the higher margin? 

 

Andrew D Ive  

So do you guys have or will this industry have the capability of creating, you know, Wagu beef, which has a high perceived cost to people and people are prepared to pay high high prices? Because of the kind of consumption experience of wagyu versus standard beef if there is such a thing? Do you see this industry cell base cultured meat being first and foremost, because of scale focused on the sort of higher value meat with higher prices is that the way to go from a scale perspective?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Definitely companies that look at it at this way, we’re doing it differently, we’re really aiming for the one to supply the market for convenient food for highly processed food. So this is why our customers are the meat processors. So they want to produce all the food you’re taking up daily. They don’t want to sell you the vacu filet or something like that. And we don’t want to do that either. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

We could do that possibly maybe 10 years later, we definitely don’t exclude it from our processes, when we learned how to scale how to produce that in masses. But we see that it’s very, very difficult to produce these thick tissues supplied with nutrients in a scalable, cost effective manner. So we just focused on okay, what can we do with existing technology, which we can modify with our experiences, and then make a good product that we stand for. And later on, we see what we can learn from what has been taken on our side, and what had what has happened outside of our company, and can combine all these informations to maybe make even better product.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Perfect. Okay, so you guys are going to be focused on the larger scale, sort of more regular meat that an average, a meat food processor will want to sell? What’s been the response of the meat companies that you’ve spoken with? Excuse me, potential partners in meat processes and so on? Or even just the industry? How is the traditional meat industry responding to what you guys are doing?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I would say that the nutrition traditional meat businesses are looking differently at us. Basically, our customers or potential customers are very happy with that. Because they have, for a long time, been sitting between two chairs. So basically the meat processor is selling its raw product from the slaughterhouses and the slaughterhouses are, of course, dependent on the animals that they have. We have seen for example, an issue with African swine flu around the whole world. So the prices for it for the raw product of meat of animals has increased drastically. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So the prices for the raw product of slaughtered meat increased and meat processors had to pay higher prices for their product but they couldn’t hand that price over to the groceries, because these prices are negotiated years in advance, and are very, very tough negotiated. So they’re sitting between these two chairs having to pay more but can’t sell their products any more expensive. So they’re losing a lot of money in there. So they’re looking for alternatives, where can I get my raw product, and this is where we jump in. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

And so basically, they are very, very happy to see that opportunity, interested support that will help us develop the product in the direction they would like to have it in, they need it, of course. And this makes us very happy because we are not from the side of the meat processors and we can get a lot of knowledge from them, which helps to make a very good product in combination. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Of course, if you see that the slaughterhouses maybe are not that open minded yet for our side. But we always try to make them aware that we don’t want to crash down the complete meat industry or tell them that everything they did was bad or that meat is bad in general. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

For example, I eat meat and I like meat. I try to reduce the amount of meat I eat and I try to eat high quality meat when I do it, but I like meat. Many farmers are based here in Rostock, in the very north east of Germany, they are living and working here. We don’t want to take all their jobs and say everything they have done their whole working life is really bad. I mean, this is not what we’re thinking. So we want to coexist with COVID conventional need, and so the slaughterhouses will ever exist. So did we don’t think that cell based meat will completely exclude conventional meat from the world for a long time?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Okay, I didn’t realize you were a meat eater. That’s the end of this then No, I’m just kidding. So one of the things that I’ve been grappling with is what happens to those, let’s say, for example, that cell based meat cultured meat does over the next 10,15,20 years, take up an increasing percentage of meat production. I don’t know that it necessarily needs to mean that those meat producers, those slaughterhouses, and so on the companies that are driving and employing people in that way, can’t take on board your model, the Innocent Meat model of creating meat in a new way. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

You know, we’ve got farming communities around the world, we’ve got rural communities that are driving the food production of all of our countries, they are literally the people we rely upon from a food from a food perspective farmers and related and all the way through the supply chain. Just because this is a new way doesn’t mean that those people can’t be the center of this new model. Just like they were the center of the old model, doesn’t mean the jobs need to disappear. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Now obviously, the need to have somebody butcher an animal and dissect an animal is one thing, but those people could be reemployed in new ways. There are parts of this business model that you’re going to be responsible for scaling, which requires not just scientists but business people and meat processors and people that take that solid piece of meat that you guys create, and decide, you know, dissect it up and pack it and do all the things you’ve traditionally done with it right? Or am I just, am I just sort of in a fantasy land?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

No, you’re totally right, of course. I think we can really create some kind of new jobs and of course, existing jobs, so transiting farmers to different parts, for example, of course, the cells that we grow also need to be fitted. So you still need the farmers that grow plants outside, which we need to ourselves, so we don’t exclude them completely. Of course, we have to pack our material for sending, like every other food product in the world. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

We have to people run the factories, we have to have people that are driving the materials around, we have to have technicians that support the meat processors with our hardware. We have to feed a whole supply chain that I mentioned earlier. With people that are working inside of that supply chain. We need to have extensive developers that are organizing and developing the system that can run the system as automated as possible and as kind of controlled and sustainable as possible. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So that it doesn’t break down every day. So there are a lot of things that we need to consider and basically don’t believe, of course, some jobs will be transistors, so people may have to work in a different field than they have before. But this is something that will appear in a lot of industries in the upcoming years as we’re changing, have to change, a lot due to climate change and other factors that come in, in the near future.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Big Idea Ventures has been working on in the background on a sort of fund, which is focused on what we call rural partners. So the rural community, because there’s been this sort of future of food expectation that as we kind of move forward with new technologies, we will sort of urbanize our food system and move it to Brooklyn and Berkeley and, you know, the center the kind of food centers or or rather sort of urban centers, LA, Chicago, New York, etc. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

I and other people that are in this space and sort of get engaged, realize that the food basket or the kind of rural communities who have supported us for decades, slash centuries, will continue to be the places of food production at scale, for centuries forward. And if we can give them the tools, if Inocent Meat with your technology can give them the tools to be the food producers of the future that’s how it is probably going to need to be, those people who are employed in the food production industries today will probably continue to be the centers of food production of the future. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

So we should obviously consider how we do that and make it sort of thoughtful, but from our point of view, there’s this connection between great universities, where they’re really sort of pushing the kind of envelope of a lot of this, this technology and science companies like your own, who are really kind of pushing the envelope as well in this area. And then business people and rural communities and sort of bringing all of that together to kind of create a future food system. I don’t know this whole area is just fascinating to me.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

It definitely is, as you’re, I’m totally with you there.

 

Andrew D Ive  

I should have finished that with a question, shouldn’t I? Why don’t I do this, because I know that I sort of begged you for some time for this for today and we’ve already spent an hour talking and I’m sure people are sort of, I don’t know arriving at their destinations if they’re listening to this in the car or their jog on their palate and peloton jogging machine is probably coming to an end. So in terms of Innocent Meat, where do people find out more about Patrick and Laura and the team? How do they engage with you? And what kind of support and help are you looking for from different folks?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Basically, we have a website,  www.innocent-meat.com. 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

So it’s innocent hyphen meat?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

No it’s minus? 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Minus, yes. Innocent minus meat.com.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I’m not sure I don’t know if that’s a German translation. I’m not sure what that means. Do you have the word minus or do you have a Dash? 

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Basically a dash. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay. In the US. we would call that a hyphen. So innocent hyphen meat and we’ll put that in the show notes. I think we will allow somebody to do that. Maybe they’ll listen to me. Innocent hyphen meet.com. And I’m guessing you’re on LinkedIn and other places.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yeah, so we’re we’re both on LinkedIn. We’re happy to connect with you. On our website is also our email address and hello innocent made. You can write us we’re totally open for all discussions for collaboration with scientific partners with public Institute’s but also with companies in every aspect that could be interested from food processing, to chemical engineering to hardware, preparing machines. Were totally open if you’re interested in the future. Reach out to us. We’re always happy to discuss possibilities. Share what we can share, of course, and discuss the systems we’re using.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, so that’s where people can find out about your company. Where do they find and I’m going to spell this for people’s benefit. Patrick, Nonnenmacher, where can they find Patrick? LinkedIn again?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Yes, you can find me on LinkedIn. The easiest way. Reach out there to me just link to me, write me a short message. And I will definitely get back to you.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Fantastic. And you’re looking for, and I’m putting words in your mouth. Tell me if this is right and wrong. People in the meat industry who are interested in what you’re doing, potential investors who are interested in what you’re doing, potential employees that are looking to get involved in this category. I mean, do you have a shout out for any of those things?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Well, we’re always open to discuss with all of the categories you talked about. Of course, always getting fresh minds into our team is something really cool. growing together and a beautiful city here in Rostock with a very, very cool topic, being at the, at the very state of the art technology in a very cool field in food science.  Also, from the investor side, we are always open to take you with us on a very exciting journey, being part of a real cool project to change and make a real deep impact in the world. So definitely on that side, and for every institute that is interested in collaborating with us, we are more than open to meet and discuss.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Perfect. And your co founder is Laura Gertenbach. I’m guessing she’s on LinkedIn as well. Right?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Absolutely. You can reach out to her, she’ll be happy to hear from you.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Fantastic. So last question. Part last thoughts on Innocent Meat? And you know what the future is all about? Where are you taking this?

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

I hope we summarized what we want to do in the upcoming years. So basically, we’re really happy to be in all that field to take part in everything we can. We have nearly every day, so many very interesting discussions with other people from that field, new people coming into that field. So we’re really open for discussions, we want to drive that field, not only our company, we really want to succeed in making this, this process making that product and bringing it to the customers, because we really deeply believe that it’s something very beneficial for all of us.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Now, all we need is the politicians to deregulate this in other parts of the world apart from Singapore so that we can actually start selling this stuff to people and making a difference. So if there are any politicians listening, although they probably won’t probably got other things to do. You know, get on it, guys. This is something we need to deregulate as soon as possible. All right, Patrick, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and your work and Laura’s work on Innocent Meat. I think you guys are doing amazing things. I’m really looking forward to the future that you’re helping to create. Thank you so much. I’m going to press pause, and then we’re going to be off. Okay.

 

Patrick Nonnenmacher  

Thanks a lot for your time was a pleasure.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Thank you, Patrick. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Patrick from Innocent Meats, by all means, reach out to him or Laura and if you’ve got any questions, comments, suggestions, please do reach out to them. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you. By all means, add any questions or comments to the video if you have the ability to, wherever you’re listening or, you know, watching this. Obviously, if you’re driving a car or something, don’t put yourself at risk. Let’s still love to hear from you when it’s safe for you to reach out. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Alright, my name is Andrew, I’m your host for today and I’m the founder of Big Idea Ventures. By all means reach out to me via big idea ventures.com, LinkedIn or all or any of the other ways that you can do so. Please do like and subscribe and we will tell you about next week’s podcast as soon as it’s available. So you can listen to that one. If you’ve got any suggestions about people we should talk to please do reach out to us. via big idea ventures.com and the Contact Us section. Alright, this is Andrew signing off from the Big Idea podcast where we’re focused on food, Thank you

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