Sector specialist investment firm Lever VC shares internal playbook for benchmarking scientific progress of cultivated meat startups

May 12, 2023 - 3 min read

New York, May 12, 2023 — To support other investors in making informed bets, alternative protein investment firm Lever VC—whose partners have invested in over 65 companies in the space over the past nine years—has released its internal playbook for assessing the scientific progress of cultivated meat companies. Developed through conducting scientific diligence into scores of cultivated meat companies over the years, the firm’s Cultivated Meat Scientific Benchmarks white paper covers the technical milestones and competencies Lever VC expects cultivated meat startups to have achieved by each fundraising stage, based on industry-standard progress rates. The benchmarks were developed by Lever VC’s scientific and technical team to assess the technical credibility and potential of startups with limited proof of concept.

Venture-backed sectors across the technology spectrum have faced public scandals in which celebrated startups were revealed to not have the technological capabilities investors believed them to have, with such “vaporware” incidents shaking confidence in their respective sectors. Recent media stories have highlighted similar risks and fears of a Theranos-style outcome in the cultivated meat sector. While thorough investor diligence is critical for preventing such situations, evaluating cultivated meat and dairy startups can prove challenging for those with limited technical expertise in this complex and nascent industry.

"We use these benchmarks to more quantitatively evaluate cultivated meat companies and identify areas where they lack progress or where certain metrics may be overly optimistic and require additional claim-vetting," said Jonathan Avesar, Lever VC's lead scientific advisor.

"We supplement our overall scientific analysis with these quantitative benchmarks that allow us to compare progress between companies, which aids in our evaluation of the risk/reward profile," said Jonathan Avesar, Lever VC's lead scientific advisor. “The benchmarks also serve toward understanding if certain metrics may be overly optimistic and require additional claim vetting."

“Especially for very early-stage companies, where cell mass quantities are extremely low and access to analytical tools is limited, rigorous scientific diligence is essential to validate a viable investment opportunity,” added Lever VC scientific associate Jasmin Kern. “It is especially important to scrutinize any assumptions made by start-ups and to verify the sources they are based on since they play a key role in the projections and models that inform decision-making.”

Lever VC, which is currently raising a $250 million Fund II, released its internal benchmarks in the hopes that publicly sharing its own standards would help investors that do not have internal scientific and technical expertise on the cultivated meat category better validate the claims and progress of startups in the sector.

The Cultivated Meat Scientific Benchmarks white paper is available online at: .

About Lever VC

Lever VC is a leading sector specialist in the FoodTech and AgTech sectors, backing early-stage startups around the world creating the future of protein. Lever VC’s Partners have executed over ninety deals in the category over the past nine years, and its Fund I performance is top decile on both MOIC and IRR based on the most recent Pitchbook market comps. The firm is currently raising a $250 million Fund II. More information is available at

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