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Exclusive: Japanese fish giant Maruha Nichiro backs Singapore's Umami

Umami Bioworks staff in its lab, courtesy of Umami Bioworks.

Startup Umami Bioworks has raised seed funding from Japanese fish company Maruha Nichiro, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Lab-cultured food promises sustainable protein without catching wild fish or raising animals on farms.

Details: Singapore-based Umami (formerly called Umami Meats) described the round as a bridge funding between it's pre-seed and a pending Series A.

  • Umami plans to use the funds to build out research and commercial teams in Japan. The company, founded in 2020, isn't disclosing the size of the round.
  • Maruha Nichiro will use Umami's cell cultivation and manufacturing technology to develop and commercialize cultivated seafood.

Catch up quick: Umami uses genomics, stem cell biology and machine learning to create its cultivated cell manufacturing.

  • Last year, the company raised a $2.4 million of pre-seed funding led by Genedant and Better Bite Ventures.

Big picture: In many regions in the world, catching wild fish is an unsustainable practice that has endangered many fish populations.

Yes, but: The big challenge for the emerging sector of cell-cultivated seafood is to reduce the cost of producing the proteins while scaling up manufacturing.

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