- Cultivated beef startup Orbillion Bio is partnering with tech company Solar Biotech to develop and scale its production.
- Through this partnership, Solar and Orbillion will work together to scale up to using 20,000-liter bioreactors. This will give Orbillion the capacity to produce more than 4 million pounds of meat a year, the companies said.
- Scaling up to commercial production volumes is one of the biggest challenges food tech companies face, especially those in the cultivated meat space. Orbillion is the latest company to enter into a partnership to help it get there.
While there is a lot of scientific precedent to grow and nurture cells outside of an animal, finding the equipment and knowledge to feed a lot of consumers can be challenging.
Many companies that have more knowledge of cellular production are working with companies that have experience in building bioreactors, which in the past have been focused on other industries, such as pharmaceuticals and medical technology.
Orbillion is positioning itself as a premium cultivated beef producer. It’s been working on Wagyu beef, elk and lamb products so far. The company says it is committed to offering products at price parity with traditional meat by 2026, and meeting the prices for commodity beef by 2030.
"Orbillion’s innovative business model will bring to market the highest quality cell-cultured beef, while being cost competitive," Patricia Bubner, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. "By partnering with Solar Biotech we can move more swiftly to reach price parity."
Solar is providing sustainable biomanufacturing technologies and products across multiple segments of the synthetic biology industry, including food tech. The company uses specialized algorithms to optimize conditions for different cells and substances to be created in a bioreactor.
Solar Biotech touts its low operating costs and sustainability metrics, use of solar power and recycled water, as well as the capture of its carbon dioxide. The company says the products its equipment produces are both carbon-neutral and water neutral.
As far as biotech equipment companies go, Solar Biotech is relatively young. Alex Berlin, the former R&D director for biotechnology research at biotech giant Novozymes and former chief technology officer for wood-chip-fermented-protein ingredient company Arbiom, started Solar in 2019.
Solar Biotech has attracted quite a bit of attention among food tech companies. In June, Ingredion invested an undisclosed amount in Solar, which went toward expanding its Norton, Virginia facility. TurtleTree, a cell-cultivated milk company, also has invested in the company. The biotech firm is working on facilities with TurtleTree to help them scale up.
This is the second recent partnership announced by Orbillion. In September, the company announced it was working with European premium meat company Luiten Food to bring cultivated Wagyu beef to Europe by 2025.
These partnerships can help Orbillion get its products scaled and distributed to a variety of consumers. The company says it is working on all aspects of the process to reduce the cost of cultivated meat by 98%. Key partnerships can play a role in some of that reduction.