Hoxton Farms Raises £2.7M Seed to Solve a Fat Problem for Meat Alternatives

February 9, 2021 - 6 min read

Hoxton Farms Co-Founders Ed Steele (R) and Dr Max Jamilly (L) Hoxton Farms Co-Founders Ed Steele (R) and Dr Max Jamilly (L)
  • The startup grows real animal fat – without the animals. Cultivated fat is a delicious, sustainable and versatile ingredient that has none of the drawbacks of plant oils currently used in meat alternatives
  • Hoxton Farms wants to ‘bring back fat’ and unlock a new kind of meat replacement that blends plant-based and cultivated ingredients
  • The investment round, led by Founders Fund, alongside Backed, Presight Capital, CPT Capital and Sustainable Food Ventures, will be used to develop its scalable production platform and build key talent in its research and development team.

London, UK 9th February 2021: Hoxton Farms has announced a £2.7 million seed round to cultivate animal fat and solve an urgent issue for the rapidly growing meat alternatives market. Its approach delivers the missing ingredient necessary to make meat alternatives delicious, realistic and versatile: fat.

For decades, the food industry has faced the challenge of finding effective, low-cost and sustainable replacements for traditional animal fat, the most important sensory ingredient in meat. Fat defines how meat looks, cooks, and tastes – and it does this in a way that cannot be replicated by plant oils currently used in meat alternatives.

Dr Max Jamilly, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms, said, “We want to bring back fat: it’s the single most important ingredient in the meat that we eat. The technology we’re developing will allow us to customise fat for any application – and we’re making it healthier too. Cultivated fat is the hero ingredient for meat alternatives, and it will solve a huge problem in this growing industry. We believe the future of meat alternatives will be a blend of plant-based protein and cultivated fat.”

Animal agriculture is responsible for almost 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 30 per cent of habitable land and freshwater. Demand for plant-based meat has grown 125 per cent in the last two years, and according to Fortune Business Insights, the global meat substitute market is expected to be worth $8.15Bn by 2026. But there’s a big fat problem.

Existing meat alternatives contain plant oils as a substitute for animal fat, but these oils have an enormous environmental impact and make plant-based meat greasy and unpalatable. Hoxton Farms is working to solve this problem using cultivated fat that is ethical and sustainable without compromising taste and performance.

Starting with a tiny sample of animal cells, Hoxton Farms grows purified animal fat in cultivators, much like the fermentors used for brewing beer. This process is, however, expensive and difficult to scale. The startup is solving this by using proprietary computational models to reduce the cost.

Ed Steele, Co-Founder of Hoxton Farms, commented, “Our mathematical approach drives everything we do at Hoxton Farms. We simulate the entire process computationally, from biopsy to bacon. This “digital twin” allows us to optimise every raw input in parallel, massively improving the cost-efficiency and performance of our cultivated fat for our customers.”

Hoxton Farms’ co-founders, Dr Max Jamilly, a synthetic biologist and formerly part of Legendairy Foods, and Ed Steele, a mathematician and former machine learning engineer at Thought Machine, met at nursery school over 25 years ago and have been friends ever since. They teamed up in 2020 to combine their expertise and build Hoxton Farms against the backdrop of the pandemic.

Steele continued, “The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of traditional meat supply chains and the risks they pose to human health and the environment. We wanted to bring together our skills to address a pressing problem: how to satisfy a growing demand for meat without compromising on health, sustainability or animal ethics.”

Hoxton Farms has received investment from leading Silicon Valley VC Founders Fund, founded by Peter Thiel, alongside Backed, Presight Capital, CPT Capital, Sustainable Food Ventures, and angel investors.

Hoxton Farms will use this seed investment to develop a proof of concept of its production platform and build customer partnerships, helping the startup to achieve its goal of supplying cultivated fat to the global meat alternatives industry.

Eric Scott, Principal at Founders Fund, added, “The market for plant-based meat has exploded in recent years, especially during the pandemic. But plant-based meat has a long way to go – and that’s because it’s missing out on real cell-based animal fat. The team’s ability to tailor the precise sensory and functional properties of fat allows them to produce exactly what their customers need. Hoxton Farms has the potential to change an industry.”

In the coming months, the startup will begin work at its new R&D lab in Hoxton, London, and continue to grow its talented team of biologists and mathematicians.

Alex Brunicki, Partner at Backed, added, *"*We’re excited to invest in Hoxton Farms and its talented team. Ed and Max are taking a pioneering approach to drive down the cost of cellular agriculture by combining their unique expertise in mathematical optimisation, machine learning and gene regulatory networks. Hoxton Farms is building a unique platform that will not only deliver cost reducing solutions that have been out of reach for many other players in the space, but also provide the flexibility to deliver unique cellular and sensory characteristics at speed."

For more information go to https://hoxtonfarms.com/


Notes to Editors

Hoxton Farms is hiring for roles that include Scientist, Senior Scientist, Computational Biologist, Senior Computational Biologist, and Bioprocess Engineer.

Press Kit Here

Press Contact

CEW Communications for Hoxton Farms, Cathy White, cathy@cewcommunications.com, +(44)07791 232834

About Hoxton Farms

Founded in 2020, Hoxton Farms is growing real animal fat – without animals. They are developing cultivated fat as an ingredient for the meat alternatives industry. Fat is the secret to unlocking cost-effective and sustainable meat alternatives that look, cook and taste like the real thing.

The company, co-founded by Dr Max Jamilly and Ed Steele, is based in Hoxton, London.

Co-Founder Biographies

Dr Max Jamilly

Max has a decade’s experience in life sciences, with a PhD from Oxford in synthetic biology and two degrees from Cambridge in biotechnology and business. Before co-founding Hoxton Farms, he worked in biotech VC and consulted for deep tech, consumer healthcare and future food startups in the UK, Europe and the US.

Ed Steele

Ed is a mathematician with master’s degrees from Oxford and Imperial. He started his career as a machine learning engineer at venture-backed fintech startup Thought Machine. Next, he joined up with an Oxford professor at QED Analytics, a mathematical modelling company solving real-world problems in industries spanning genetics, sport, finance and law.

About Founders Fund

Founders Fund invests in the world’s most important and valuable companies across all sectors and stages. The firm’s partners have been founders and early funders of companies including PayPal, SpaceX, Palantir, Airbnb, Stripe and Facebook. Founders Fund pursues a founder-friendly investment strategy, providing maximum support with minimum interference. More information is available at www.foundersfund.com.


BACKED is the human-centric venture capital fund. They invest in exceptional founders, at Seed, in Europe, providing founders an extensive support system to catalyse their development as company operators and leaders. Founded in 2015 by partners Andre de Haes and Alex Brunicki, BACKED invests across sectors including BioTech, Entertainment, Financial Services, Industry 4.0 and more. Investments to date include Hutch, Pollen, Thought Machine, LabGenius and THIS.

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