Clever Carnivore Raises $7M to Expand Operations and Scale Up Production of Cultivated Meat

December 4, 2023 - 4 min read

Delicious, sustainable, cost-competitive and cruelty-free meat is officially in the works. And early investors in Clever Carnivore will be among the first to see how the sausage gets made.

CHICAGO — Dec. 4, 2023 — Clever Carnivore, a Chicago biotech startup producing low-cost, top-quality cultivated meat, today announced the successful closing of its $7 million seed round funding. The round was led by Lever VC, a globally renowned investor in the alternative protein industry.

“We are delighted with the enthusiastic support from our investors in this seed round,” said Virginia Rangos, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Clever Carnivore. “This funding is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team and reaffirms the confidence that investors have in our cutting-edge science, technology and business model. With this investment, we are well positioned to revolutionize the protein market and enhance the overall consumer experience.”

Clever Carnivore received substantial backing from national and international investors, including McWin Capital Partners from Spain; Thia Ventures headquartered in Belgium and Switzerland; Valo Ventures from Palo Alto, California; Newfund Capital from France; and Stray Dog Capital, a Midwest-based fund with roots in Kansas.

“We’ve been tracking and investing across the global cultivated meat sector since the first such company launched eight years ago, and we haven’t seen anyone come remotely close to Clever Carnivore’s astoundingly low current cost of production, a testament to the company’s phenomenal science,” said Nick Cooney, managing partner of Lever VC.

“Clever Carnivore’s approach blends breakthrough science and a demonstrated cost advantage in the cultivated meat sector. I had been wanting to make an investment in the space for a couple of years, and major scientific advantages combined with a stellar founding team and a big vision compelled Newfund to make this investment. We’re excited to back and support Clever Carnivore,” said Pierre-Jean Cobut, entrepreneur in residence at Newfund Capital.

Clever Carnivore’s R&D is headed by co-founder Paul Burridge, Ph.D., a professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Burridge is an expert with more than 20 years of research experience in cell line development and growth media optimization. The company has optimized its growth media to support its unique cell lines, achieving an incredible reduction in cell culture media costs — one to two orders of magnitude lower than any other cultivated meat company globally.

“We are convinced that cultivated meat will become an essential part of the food on our plate. What was missing up to now was the technology to make products that will provide the same taste and nutrition as meat from farmed animals and at a truly competitive price. Clever Carnivore has what it takes to bridge that gap, and they move very fast,” said Bart Van Hooland, managing partner of Thia Ventures.

“Paul’s experience with cell line development and low-cost media, coupled with Clever Carnivore’s cells’ superior growth performance in animal component-free media, places Clever Carnivore in a unique position to rapidly iterate and evolve their production processes and product formulation in a cost- and time- efficient manner,” said Subodh Gupta, partner at Valo Ventures.

The seed round was oversubscribed, reflecting the growing investor confidence in Clever Carnivore’s innovative approach. This successful funding round will enable Clever Carnivore to accelerate its expansion plans and fuel the company’s mission to redefine the way consumers access and enjoy top-tier meat products.

Clever Carnivore plans to relocate its Lincoln Park operations to a larger nearby facility by year- end. The expansion will allow the company to scale up production into 500L bioreactors and add in test kitchens, as Clever Carnivore’s early growth has already surpassed the capacity of its inaugural lab.

Clever Carnivore is currently producing cultivated pork sausage, with plans to unveil its prototype product, the Clever Bratwurst, in early 2024.

Chicago, historically the meatpacking capital of the world, is now gearing up for a resurgence in the protein production industry — this time, using more efficient and sustainable processes. As a Chicago-based biotech pioneer, Clever Carnivore is leading the charge.

About Clever Carnivore

Clever Carnivore, Chicago’s first cultivated meat company, is a mission-driven startup deploying cutting-edge biotechnology to bring low-cost, top-quality cultivated pork, beef and chicken to the consumer market. Using Clever Carnivore’s high-efficiency model, cruelty-free, sustainable and cost-competitive sausages, burgers and chicken nuggets will soon be a reality. The company works to develop cultivated meat products using cell biology, recombinant protein technology and advanced bioreactor design, with the objective of creating consumer products that compete on taste, price and convenience with conventional meat, delivering a gastronomic experience that satisfies vegetarians and carnivores alike.

To learn more about Clever Carnivore’s work to bring delicious and affordable cultivated meat to market and receive updates on our progress, please visit and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

About Lever VC

Lever VC is a leading sector specialist in the food-tech and ag-tech sectors, backing early-stage startups around the world creating the future of protein. Lever VC’s partners have executed over 90 deals in the category over the past nine years and are currently raising a $250 million Fund II. More information is available at

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