Singapore’s Shiok Meats, a start-up in cell-cultured seafood products, has announced an acquisition in its home market in a related category space.

The business has snapped up Gaia Foods, described as south-east Asia’s “first cell-based red meat start-up”, founded in 2019 by scientists Dr. Vinayaka Srinivas and Dr. Hung Nguyen who have backgrounds in stem-cell and biotechnology research.

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Gaia Foods is backed by Big Idea Ventures (BIV), an alternative-protein venture fund and accelerator with offices in New York, Paris and Singapore, and also other undisclosed angel investors. BIV has also invested in Shiok Meats, most recently via a bridge-financing exercise in July and a US$4.6m funding round in 2019.

“The alternative-protein space is evolving rapidly, and we are very excited to collaborate and integrate with Gaia Foods,” Dr. Sandhya Sriram, the CEO of Shiok Meats who co-founded the firm with business partner and chief technology officer Dr. Ka Yi Ling in 2018, said in a statement. “As entrepreneurs and innovators, we are excited about this collaboration as it sets an example for a novel way of building and growing a company as part of the accelerating alternative-protein industry.”

The purchase price has not been disclosed.

Shiok Meats said in July the company expected to make its commercial launch in Singapore by 2023 at the “latest” with cell-cultured shrimp, with plans to develop into shrimp paste, lobster and crab.

“With both seafood and red meat on our suite of offerings and the recent fundraise from strategic investors, we are ready to power through to commercialisation,” Sriram said in the statement today (10 August).

Gaia Foods is awaiting a patent for its cell-based meat technology following the launch last October of the start-up’s first “structured meat” product, described as “thin pieces of pan-cooked beef slices served with rice noodles”.

When contacted by Just Food to establish the commercial launch and the status of BIV in the acquired company, a spokesperson for Shiok Meats said Gaia Foods is still in the R&D phase and the venture fund is an “investor”.

Gaia Foods’ technical team will remain in place to lead the development on the cell-based red meat side of the combined business.

“This collaboration has all the necessary synergies that will make our respective capabilities even stronger,” co-founder Srinivas said. “This couldn’t have come at a better time. We look forward to working together with Shiok Meats to further our technology and expand our business and markets.”

See Just Food’s round-up of the firms developing cell-cultured protein products here: Leading the charge – the companies at the cutting edge of cell-based protein product development.