Jen Greenstein, senior director of investments at NCBiotech, said the loan will help both Atlantic Fish and the broader cellular agriculture industry in North Carolina.
“We’re looking forward to Atlantic Fish progressing in their development of novel cultivated seafood products,” she said. “This could help lift supply constraints on finfish resistant to aquaculture practices, enabling increased volumes without causing overfishing or affecting ocean biodiversity,” she explained in a press release.
Founded in 2020, Atlantic Fish cultivates fish from harvested cells, using a bioreactor to supply nutrients for cell growth and a scaffolding as a growth structure. The company is focused primarily on halibut and other premium wild-caught species that don’t perform well in fish farms.
“This is real seafood,” said Atlantic Fish CEO Doug Grant. “It’s not a plant-based replica. Essentially, you can make meat or seafood without having to slaughter animals. It’s much more climate-friendly and sustainable and doesn’t diminish the oceans.”
Through a partnership with the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab in Kannapolis, Atlantic Fish is developing its first marketable product, planned for testing in the first quarter of 2024. Grant said he’s lined up some restaurant groups in the Washington area to try the product while planning for the US Food and Drug Administration’s cultivated meat and seafood regulatory review process.
“Most seafood in the US is eaten in restaurants,” he said. “But restaurants just have a really difficult time with seafood supply chains. So that’s a great place to start with cellular agriculture, having something that can be available year-round that’s not dependent on fishing seasons or availability or international supply chains.”
Atlantic Fish previously secured funding from Sustainable Food Ventures, a fund that invests in early-stage sustainable food companies. Grant also participated in a recent IndieBio NY startup accelerator program in New York City to help secure additional investment.