Thursday, August 16, 2012

3D printed meat: It's what's for dinner

3D printed meat: It's what's for dinner: 3D printing has been used to create running shoes, medical implants, and, to the delight of firearm enthusiasts, a .22 caliber handgun. So why not a 3D-printed steak for the grill?

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel's philanthropic foundation plans to announce today a six-figure grant for bioprinted meat, part of an ambitious plan to bring to the world's dinner tables a set of technologies originally developed for creating medical-grade tissues.

The recipient of the Thiel Foundation's grant, a Columbia, Mo.-based startup named Modern Meadow, is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy a natural human craving for animal protein. Co-founder Andras Forgacs has sharply criticized the overall cost of traditional livestock practices, saying "if you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck."

"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." (See CNET's Q&A with Thiel from last year.)

Breakout Labs is also giving grants to Bell Biosystems and Entopsis, both medical startups. A Breakout Labs representative declined to give exact figures, saying that each grant was for a sum between $250,000 and $350,000.


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