TORONTO — Cultivated meat startup Evolved Meats (formerly CaroMeats) raised $2 million in seed funding. Led by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., the round will support product development and the initial scale up of production processes.

Evolved developed a species agnostic platform for growing whole cuts of meat that are structurally and biochemically identical to conventional cuts of meat. It aims to leverage its ability to grow functional tissue to become a low-cost operator in the cultivated meat space.

The startup’s approach is enabled by provisionally patented innovations in tissue engineering developed by Alireza Shahin, chief executive officer of Evolved Meats, during his PhD and post-doctoral work at McMaster University. His work in cell sheet engineering led him to create functional tissues that can be arranged to replicate any cut of meat from any species. The discovery allowed him to recreate the fibrous texture, marbling, taste, mouthfeel and nutrition of conventional meat directly from cells, without the need for any exogenous materials, like scaffolding or binders.

“Our ambition is to recreate meat in a way that is identical to nature by biofabricating functional muscle tissues and capturing the entire muscle to meat transition,” he said. “The proprietary technologies underlying our modular system allow us to do exactly that. However, recreating whole cuts of meat is only part of the challenge. Our unique ability to create functional tissues will help us scale out our production while driving towards price parity with conventional meat. This mix of familiar cuts and affordable prices will enable Evolved to lead a massive transformation of the food system.”

Global protein fund Big Idea Ventures joined Maple Leaf Foods in the $2 million seed round. Garage Capital, Saltagen Ventures Inc., the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Fund and strategic angels also participated in the fundraise.

“We are committed to supporting promising new technologies with the potential to nourish people and protect the planet,” said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. “We are excited to invest in Evolved, as they pursue their vision to produce cultivated meat production using their unique technology.”

Maple Leaf in 2017 entered the alternative protein market with the acquisition ofField Roast Grain Meat Co.and Lightlife Foods. It also has invested in plant-based seafood makerGathered Foods Corp.andMycoTechnology Inc.,a company developing protein products and other ingredients using mushroom fermentation.