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Startup's team at its lab in the Barcelona Science Park (Photo: Real Deal Meal).

A cellular agriculture startup Real Deal Milk settles in the Barcelona Science Park

Real Deal Milk, a science-based company developing state-of-the-art technology to produce animal-free milk and dairy products, opens in the Barcelona Science Park. The startup is currently focussed on its R&D capabilities to scale commercial solutions. The company’s long-term vision is to replace dairy across all categories, from cheese to ice creams.

Real Deal Milk (RDM) was born in 2021 from the hand of Hungarian entrepreneur Zoltan Toth-Czifra (founder & CEO), and the Colombian scientist Gabriel Mora (chief researcher) to develop innovative technologies that produce lab-grown milk products without animals, but nutritionally and gastronomically equivalent to traditional dairy products.

“Traditional dairy farming has a devastating effect on the environment, draining resources from the planet, such as water, and pumping back in greenhouse gases (GHG). Moreover, cows often find themselves in a cramped space and living under stressful and abusive conditions. But there are downsides to humans too. Antibiotic resistance and pandemic risk are major concern”, explains Zoltan Toth-Czifra.

Despite the problems surrounding dairy farming, Toth-Czifra warns that milk demand will continue to rise. “Currently, a 6 billion out of the 7.6 billion people in the world consume dairy products, and our population is growing. Luckily, technological advancements can guide the way to a more sustainable future”.

Real Deal Milk’s mission is to provide the solution by using cellular agriculture. “In the long run, cellular agriculture it will enable us to help tackle climate change and end animal suffering, and also produce dairy not just more sustainably, but also more cheaply than traditional methods, enabling dairy farming in places currently impossible”, states Toth-Czifra.

Genetically engineered yeast to produce milk proteins

To achieve its goal, RDM  has developed innovative precision fermentation technologies to produce in the lab bio-identical milk proteins, casein and whey, without cows.

Toth-Czifra outlines that with the manufacture of casein and whey mastered, the gates to the dairy industry are open: “It’s the first time that this technology is being applied to large scale food production where the bulk of the product comes from precision fermentation”.

He thinks that the most important aspect of competition will be yield efficiency in the context of the economic medium-term growth and patentable technology, so now this is the main research focus of the startup.

The company’s long-term strategy is to develop a wide range of dairy product categories including cream, milk powder, butter, yogurt and ice cream, starting cheese. But RDM won’t stop at traditional dairy. “We won’t stop at traditional dairy. We will be able to build a whole range of new products not possible with traditional dairy production, such as milk with optimized nutritional properties or a range of exotic dairy products”, reveals RDM founder.

The startup is also building a consumer-facing brand: “We have a strong story to tell that helps us turn our brand into a movement. We will use our brand to educate our customers and differentiate ourselves from competitors. At the same time, we will build strong partnerships with existing food and beverage brands”, he adds.

Key Business Highlights

On October 2021, Real Deal Milk was chosen out of 50 applicants from 15 countries, to take part in the first edition of Mylkcubator, the first global incubation programme for cellular agriculture technologies in the dairy industry, run by Pascual Innoventures in collaboration with Eatable Adventures.

Last February, the startup was granted the Startup Capital funding from ACCIÓ, the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness, a direct grant of up to €75,000 for emerging startups to develop their product or service and to validate the business model for accessing the market.

To boost its entrepreneurial initiative, RDM has just moved its headquarters to Barcelona Science Park. “If you’re running a biotech startup in Barcelona, the Science Park is where you want to be. They have an incredible team and infrastructure to support new science-based ventures. Without the lab space and infrastructure at PCB, we would not be able to innovate as fast as we do”, says Toth-Czifra.