BioBetter grows tobacco plants and manufactures proteins from them, specifically insulin, transferrin, and the growth factor FGF2 – compounds that are necessary to make cultivated meat commercially viable.

The pilot plant has the capacity to process 100kg of these tobacco plant-derived “growth factors.”

These growth factors play a key role in forming authentic and well-structured muscle tissue in cultivated meat. Cultivated meat production processes are relatively expensive today which makes it a challenge to reach price parity with its animal-based counterparts.

The tobacco plants used are not used to feed humans or animals in order to eliminate any risk of consumption and cross-contamination of food crops.

“Cultivated meat is still very expensive in comparison to conventional meat and the key is to reduce the growth medium costs to a minimum,” said Dr. Amit Yaari, CEO of BioBetter.

“Our target is to reduce the production cost of growth factors, including insulin, a key part of the growth medium, to $1 per gram which is a 100-fold less than the going rate today.”

Dana Yarden, co-founder of BioBetter, said: “Our holistic approach not only underscores our commitment to safety and environmental responsibility but also streamlines regulatory processes.

“Our commitment to sustainability shines through in every facet of our operations. We plan to use recycled and low-quality water for irrigation, minimize nitrogen fertilizer use, and reduce emissions and environmental impact.”

The startup, which is based in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, is currently in the stages of securing approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health for food manufacturing licensing.