Shiok Meats, a Singapore-based start-up developing cell-cultured foods, has secured US$4.6m in funding from a wide range of investors across the Asia Pacific, Europe and the US.

The company was co-founded by chief executive Dr Sandhya Sriram, a stem cell scientist of more than ten years, and is described as a “cell-based clean-meat company, the first of its kind in Singapore and South-east Asia”. 

Sriram said in a statement that Shiok, which means delicious or fantastic in Singapore and Malay slang, is employing cellular agriculture by growing sustainable ‘seafood and meats’ using stem cells instead of animals with its first pipeline product being clean shrimps, which were showcased at the recent Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit held in Singapore.

Developing such alternative food products fits with Singapore’s strategy of promoting food-related innovation, including lab-grown meat, as the city-state seeks to reduce its reliance on imports and create local jobs. In 2016, Singapore launched its SGD19bn (US$14bn) Research, Innovation and Enterprise strategy targeted at free-from products encompassing tropical aquaculture, urban agriculture, and advanced biotech-based protein production.

Demonstrating strong interest in the technology, Shiok’s seed funding round attracted a wide range of interest from venture capital funds, accelerators and both individual and angel investors.

The round was led by Henry Soesanto, the chief executive of Philippines-based Monde Nissin, the firm that owns the UK meat-free brand Quorn Foods. The New Protein Fund run by Big Idea Ventures also featured, a venture capital investor focused on start-ups in the plant-based food sector. Tyson Ventures, the capital fund of US food giant Tyson Foods, and Singapore’s state-investment company Temasek, have both invested in the New Protein Fund.

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Y Combinator, a US-based start-up incubator, and international “talent investor” Entrepreneur First headquartered in London, also took part.  

CEO Sriram said Shiok plans to expand its team from the current four, which includes the other co-founder Dr Ling Ka Yi, who is chief scientific officer, to six in the coming months as it takes on bioprocess engineers.