Open-access research into growth factors required for proliferation, maintenance, and differentiation of cell types relevant to cultivated meat will support both academic and industry research efforts. This research could include screening of species-specific growth factors under a variety of conditions and in a variety of cell types to characterize cross-species compatibility, which informs commercial efforts to scale production of the most widely used growth factors. Research should also seek to define optimal concentrations of individual growth factors and cocktails for achieving various cell states or behaviors, as well as understanding interactions between growth factors.
A systematic, open-access, comprehensive analysis of novel microbial strains could drastically expand the available strains that can compete on flavor, efficiency, cost, and nutrition.
A more comprehensive understanding of the processes, structures, and molecular constituents governing meat's organoleptic properties will inform the production of alternative proteins.
For tissue-structured cultivated meat production, the transition from the proliferation phase to differentiation phase may involve seeding cells onto a prefabricated scaffold within a perfusion bioreactor. Medium is then perfused through the cell-laden scaffold, providing nutrients and oxygen as cells differentiate and mature. Computational models are needed to describe fluid flow through scaffolds to better understand mass transfer and shear forces. These models will inform considerations for scaffold materials, geometries, dimensions, fabrication methods, and bioprocess design as well as considerations for the composition and viscosity of the medium.
Companies entering the alt protein space often struggle to secure line time at demonstration-scale and mid-scale commercial production facilities. Greater availability of mid-scale contract capacity would reduce capital outlays and facilitate scaling, allowing alt protein companies to maintain greater control over their equity and exercise more influence within the supply chain. Contracting production allows for a more modular supply chain, with participants achieving gains from specialization, allowing for better financial and organizational structuring around core competencies.
Intellectual property pools and patent pledges can help member companies contribute to a suite of patents that can be licensed within the pool.
The alternative protein industry has a significant need for workers and innovators with specialized knowledge spanning multiple traditional disciplines. However, since few universities offer alternative protein majors or dedicated subject matter, most alternative protein knowledge has to be learned on the job. The alternative protein industry needs educational programming that can cover the depth and complexity of knowledge, experience, and skills required within the context of traditional academic institutions as well as post-graduate professional development and training opportunities.
Rather than relying on recombinant growth factors, cultivated meat companies could use conditioned media from animal cells producing high levels of these molecules.
More frameworks for academic-industry collaboration could help build talent pipelines, create research commercialization pathways, and drive alignment on research priorities.
Microbial fermentation may be able to help us produce lipids that are identical or similar to animal fats—especially saturated fats, which are exceedingly rare in the plant kingdom.