A start up co-founded by Wadham alumnus Dr Russ Tucker (DPhil Engineering Science, 2010) is hoping to be the first company to put lab-grown meat on UK shelves.
Russ said Ivy Farm plans to launch its slaughter-free sausage for supermarkets and the restaurant trade from 2023.
Ivy Farm’s non-GMO production process uses technology developed at Oxford University, in the same building that developed the Covid-19 vaccine.
A small number of cells are taken from an animal and placed in a bioreactor. The cells are exposed to a mix of vitamins and nutrients so they replicate and produce meat in as little as three-to-four weeks. The system is continuous – so muscle and fat can be harvested without disturbing cells growing underneath.
Russ, whose grandparents were butchers, said: “If you look at the world around us, the way we currently produce and consume food is unsustainable. Already nearly half the worldwide harvest is required to feed livestock and that’s only going to go up. Cultured meat is the silver bullet – through cutting edge technology we can provide real, high-quality meat while saving the planet.”
The company has launched a £16 million fund-raising bid to build a pilot R&D facility in the first step towards producing 12,000 tonnes of cultured pork a year by 2025. And Russ is urging the Government to get behind the sector given the opportunity for the UK to be at the forefront of an industry that can help to save the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the acceleration of deforestation.
Ivy Farm is in discussions with the Food Standards Agency, which will have to approve cultured meat before it can go on sale in the UK.
Singapore became the first country in the world to approve cultured meat for sale in December 2020.
About Ivy Farm
Ivy Farm was founded in 2019 by Dr Russ Tucker and Professor Cathy Ye who met at the University of Oxford.
As well as being the source of Ivy Farm’s key technology, the University of Oxford also provided seed-funding through the University Challenge Seed Fund to complete proof-of-concept work.
Ivy Farm’s founder and CTO, Russ Tucker, holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Oxford University. Russ read mechanical engineering as an undergraduate and subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC. He returned to academia at the University of Oxford, completing his PhD in biomedical engineering at Wadham before joining the Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant, becoming a commercial and strategic adviser to supermarkets.