Tag Archives: Thiel Fellows

3D Printed Meat for Dinner: Peter Thiel Backs Bioprinting Startup

3D Printed Meat Livestock Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur-investor turned billionaire who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, is investing in 3D printing again. Last time we covered Thiel, he was backing a 3D printing entrepreneur in his 20 under 20 Thiel Fellows program. This time, Thiel is looking to shake up the food industry through an investment in a startup called Modern Meadow.

Modern Meadow is using a technique called bioprinting to produce meat that is more environmentally-friendly than traditional raised livestock.

“If you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck,” Modern Meadow co-founder Andras Forgacs told CNET.

“Modern Meadow is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to imagine an economic and compassionate solution to a global problem,” said Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, a project of the Thiel Foundation. “We hope our support will help propel them through the early stage of their development, so they can turn their inspired vision into reality.”

Reports suggest that Modern Meadow has raised over $250,000 from the Thiel Foundation.

Below is an excerpt from Modern Meadow’s Department of Agriculture grant application, which explains their project in more detail.

Present farm and industrial meat production methods and technologies have a number of associated problems including health risks (infectious animal diseases, nutrition-related diseases), resource intensity (land, water, energy), damage to environment (green house gas emission, erosion, biodiversity loss) and ethical challenges (animal welfare). With increasing worldwide demand for meat, it is expected that some of these problems will become critical. The objective of this proposal is to develop a fundamentally new approach to edible meat production. The approach is based on bio-printing, a novel tissue engineering technology. In this technology, conveniently prepared multicellular aggregates (the bio-ink particles) are delivered into a biocompatible support structure according to a design template (compatible with the shape of the desired biological construct) by a computer-controlled delivery device (the bio-printer). Biological assemblies form after deposition of the discrete bio-ink particles, through morphogenetic processes akin to those evident in early embryonic development, such as cell sorting and tissue fusion. The resulting construct is transferred to special purpose bioreactor for further maintenance and maturation to make it suitable for use (e.g. implantation in medical applications). So far, bio-printing has been applied to build three-dimensional tissues and organ structures of specific architecture and functionality for purposes of regenerative medicine. Here we propose to adapt this technology to building meat products for consumption. The technology has several advantages in comparison to earlier attempts to engineer meat in vitro. The bio-ink particles can be reproducibly prepared with mixtures of cells of different type. This allows for control in composition that enables the engineering of healthy products of great variety. Printing ensures consistent shape, while post-printing structure formation and maturation in the bioreactor facilitates conditioning. As meat is a post mortem tissue, the vascularization of the final product is less critical than in medical applications (although important for taste an objective to be further pursued in Phase II). Overall, this process allows for greater structural precision than other approaches and higher throughput for eventual scaling to industrial production. We anticipate that this Phase I application will result in a macroscopic size (~2 cm x 1 cm x 0.5 mm) edible prototype and will demonstrate that bio-printing-based in vitro meat production is feasible, economically viable and environmentally practical. Successful in vitro meat engineering addresses a number of societal needs, thus the commercialization of the method has high market potential. The consumer acceptance of such products may not be without challenges. We expect it will first appeal to culinary early-adopter consumers and the segment of the vegetarian community that rejects meat for ethical reasons. With reduction in price, it can reach the masses with religious restrictions on meat consumption (people restricted to Hindu, Kosher, Halal diets) and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production.



Livestock photo by Mr. T in DC used under Creative Commons license.

Facebook Investor Peter Thiel Backs 3D Printing Entrepreneur

Peter Thiel 3D Printing

Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur-investor who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, today announced the 2012 class of Thiel Fellows. This set of 20 young entrepreneurs are under 20 years old and embarking on ambitious technical and scientific projects. Thiel will be awarding them with $100,000 each as well as mentorship from his network of investors, entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators.

“Pundits and hand-wringers love to claim that universities are the only path to a successful life. In truth, an inquisitive mind, rigorously applied to a deep-rooted problem can change the world as readily as the plushest academic lab,” said Thiel. “In 1665 when Cambridge University closed due to the plague, Isaac Newton used his time away to pursue self-directed learning and ended up inventing calculus. The drive to make a difference is what truly matters.”

Projects pursued by this class of fellows span numerous areas of cutting edge technology, including energy, robotics, 3D printing, biotechnology and medical breakthroughs, software and digital communication, education, public health, artificial intelligence, and open source ecology.

“We continue to be blown away by the quality of ideas coming from 20 Under 20 applicants,” said Jonathan Cain, president of the Thiel Foundation. “The mentors in the Thiel Network are very excited to work with the 2012 class as they explore new frontiers, experience the setbacks and successes of entrepreneurial pursuits, and begin changing the world one idea at a time.”

We were very excited to see 3D printing as a primary focus of one of the entrepreneurs, Chris Olah.

Chris Olah (19, Toronto, ON, Canada) wants to use 3D printing to reduce the scope of scarcity. His goal: empower anyone with a 3D printer to make educational aids, basic scientific equipment, and tools that improve their quality of life. He is currently working on a project called ImplicitCAD, which is a math-based attempt to reinvent computer-aided design and make it more affordable.

Chris, pictured below presented at Maker Faire NYC, was gracious on Twitter upon being accepted into Thiel’s program.

“I’m pleased to be one of this year’s Thiel Fellows. I’ll be working on crazy 3D printing, functional programming, language design, and math.”

Chris Olah 3D Printing Enterpreneur

Good luck to Chris and the rest of the class!


Via MarketWatch.

Peter Thiel photo by thekenyeung used under Creative Commons license.