Sydney-based startup Vow has secured US$6 million ($7.7 million) in new funding as it continues to grow its suite of cell-based, cultured meat products at a time when interest in the alternative meat sector is blooming.
The oversubscribed seed funding round was led by Square Peg Capital and included participation from existing investors Blackbird Ventures and Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes’ investment office Grok Ventures.
The funding round also included new investors Tenacious Ventures, and Square Peg principal James Tynan will join the Vow board of directors.
The fresh capital comes after a busy two years for the startup, which was founded by George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith in 2019, and has since grown to a team of 22 people.
Vow produces food products from the cells of animals and is now doing so from the cells of 11 animal species. This includes standard livestock animals such as chickens and pigs, as well as less traditional offerings, such as kangaroo, alpaca and water buffalo.
Some of these lab-grown meats were on display last year when Vow partnered with prominent Australian chef Neil Perry to create a trial menu to show how cultured meats could be used in high-end creative cuisine.
The startup will soon produce the products from a new food design studio and laboratory in Sydney, and says it is in prime position to take advantage of an international trend towards cultured meats, with the first lab-grown meat products recently being approved for sale in Singapore.
Vow’s goal is to not only to replace meat products, but to “outperform” them.
“This is about so much more than an alternative to animal agriculture,” said co-founder and chief executive George Peppou in a statement.
“It’s about a category of products totally distinct from, and better than, what animals are capable of producing.”
In the same statement, Square Peg’s Tynan said the Vow team have “the most audacious vision for the future of food” and the business model to achieve it.
“They’re tackling one of the biggest problems on the plant and have delivered results with less than 1 per cent of the resources of its competitors,” he said.
While Vow is still working towards launching a commercial product, Blackbird Ventures partner Sam Wong said the startup’s demonstrations so far represent a “world record-breaking, gold medal achievement in the startup olympics”.
“Vow’s vision is truly breathtaking — creating new meats more delicious and healthier than anything we have eaten before, cultivated directly from cells without harming an animal, and with a fraction of the carbon footprint.”