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The BlueNalu team this week announced they had raised $4.5m. Photo: BlueNalu
The BlueNalu team this week announced they had raised $4.5m. Photo: BlueNalu

A United States start-up that plans to grow seafood from fish cells has raised $4.5 million to develop the project.

Lou Cooperhouse: Firm will 'aggressively develop' technology. Photo: BlueNalu
Lou Cooperhouse: Firm will 'aggressively develop' technology. Photo: BlueNalu

San Diego-based BlueNalu was able to close the successful seed funding round this week, just two months after announcing the launch of the company.

In a press release, BlueNalu said New Crop Capital served as lead investor and was joined by a diverse coalition of 25 venture capital organisations and individuals from the US, UK, Hong Kong, Israel, and Luxembourg.  

‘Rethink seafood’

“It’s time to rethink seafood and how we can sustainably feed our global population in the decades ahead,” said the company’s president and chief executive, Lou Cooperhouse.

“We are very grateful for the tremendous interest in BlueNalu from both the financial and mission-driven venture community, and we are extremely pleased by the global reach and diversity of the investors in our seed round.

“This level of funding will allow us to aggressively develop our technology platform and the commercialisation strategy required for product manufacture.

“We are also implementing strategic partnerships that will enable us to ultimately reach our target customers with a line of great-tasting, distinctive, and cost-effective seafood products for global distribution.” 

Market potential

Chris Kerr, chief investment officer at New Crop Capital, said the seed funding round was one of the largest for lab-grown meat, known by its proponents as ‘clean meat’.

“We are very excited at the market potential for BlueNalu and their ability to offer consumers an alternative to conventional animal sources that today originate only in our oceans and seas,” said Kerr.

“We are thrilled by the level of professional expertise of the BlueNalu team in the diversified fields of cell biology, tissue engineering, intellectual property, food innovation, technology commercialisation, and consumer marketing.”

The company is not the only one in the ‘clean meat’ field. In September last year San Francisco-based Finless Foods produced what it said was the first fish – grown outside of a fish – ever to be eaten. It is initially concentrating on producing bluefin tuna, a high-value fish that has recently been threatened by predatory fishing practices. 

Finless Foods was part of the first cohort of start-ups that recently completed the Hatch aquaculture business accelerator programme run by Alimentos Ventures in Bergen, and intends to have its product in restaurants next year.

Finless Foods holds a tasting of fish cakes made from cell-grown 'clean meat' last year. Video grab: Finless Foods
Finless Foods holds a tasting of fish cakes made from cell-grown 'clean meat' last year. Video grab: Finless Foods
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