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Making cultivated meat a reality: Q&A with Umami Bioworks CEO Mihir Pershad


Wed, 09/13/2023 - 12:00


The world’s appetite for fish shows no signs of slowing, and cultivated meat could help meet demand. Biochemist-turned-entrepreneur Mihir Pershad shares what it is going to take to get state-of-the-art technology onto dining tables.

In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown beef patty was sizzled up and served on live television. Made up of cultivated muscle stem cells, the patty took three months and €250,000 (approximately S$430,000) to grow. 

Since then, cell-based proteins – also known as cultivated meat – have come a long way. Today, more than 100 companies worldwide are in the business of growing meat in the lab, with an extensive focus on beef. But one company is turning the tide on seafood representation in the industry. 

Umami Bioworks, a cultivated fish meat start-up co-founded by Mihir Pershad, aims to ease the burden on depleting fish stocks while giving more people access to fresh, high-quality seafood. With their patented machine learning algorithm, they team can speed up, lower the cost of and scale cultivated cell lines of endangered fish. 

With the rising culinary aspirations of a burgeoning middle-class in regions like South and Central America, the shift towards cultivated meat could potentially be a durable one, said Mihir, who is also the start-up’s Chief Executive Officer.