Sep 8, 2023 - News

Meet the Raleigh startup trying to create cell-based gelatin

Photo: Courtesy of Jellatech

The idea of lab-grown meat, which includes cultivating real animal meat from cells rather than slaughter, has captured the attention of investors around the world in recent years.

  • Some of that money is now finding its way to a small lab in West Raleigh that is attempting to create collagen proteins without killing animals.

Driving the news: Raleigh-based startup Jellatech raised $3.5 million from investors last month, as part of a seed round to scale up the company's capabilities.

  • Founded in 2020 by the Danish entrepreneur Stephanie Michelsen — who moved to Raleigh from the Bay Area to start the company — Jellatech has already cultivated small amounts of bovine and porcine collagen from cells and is now attempting to make cell-grown collagen that is bio-identical to human collagen.

Why it matters: Collagen, a protein that strengthens skin, bones and cartilage, is a key ingredient for several large industries.

The big picture: Michelsen says if her company is successful it could help cut down on the reliance on animal agriculture, which is a large generator of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Once it's able to produce them at a larger scale, Jellatech could sell its complex proteins to other businesses that need them in the production process.
  • It would likely target selling to companies working in research and development first rather than food or medicine as it works through the regulatory process.

What's next: Jellatech plans to use its most recent investment to grow its team of scientists and continue to add larger bioreactors where it grows its cell-cultivated collagen.

  • Michelsen said she wants to add several positions to the seven-person team. They're currently looking for larger lab space around Research Triangle Park.

Zoom in: Jellatech is not the only Triangle startup making waves in the cell-grown protein space.


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