MAASTRICHT, The Netherlands – Mosa Meat, a startup venture of the Univ. of Maastricht in the Netherlands, recently raised €7.5 million ($8.8 million) in series A funding to bring cultured meat to market by 2021.

Leading the funding round were Bell Food Group, a leading meat processor in Switzerland, and M Ventures, the venture capital unit of Merck. Mosa Meat said the funding will be used to develop an end-to-end process for cultured meat production, including a pilot production plant that will make a premium cultured meat product in 2021.

Mosa Meat CEO Peter Verstrate said, “M Ventures brings strong experience in early stage financing of science-based companies like ours and has added tremendous value throughout the fundraising process, while Bell Food Group brings strong downstream capabilities in meat processing and distribution. We think this is a perfect collaboration.”

Prof. Mark Post, co-founder of Mosa Meat, created the world’s first cultured hamburger in 2013. Post organized the first public tasting of a cultured burger that cost more than $300,000 to make.

“Meat demand is soaring and in the future won’t be met by livestock agriculture alone,” said Lorenz Wyss, CEO of Bell Food Group. “We believe this technology can become a true alternative for environment-conscious consumers, and we are delighted to bring our know-how and expertise of the meat business into this strategic partnership with Mosa Meat.” Bell Food Group manufactures a range of products including meat, poultry, charcuterie, seafood in addition to fresh and non-perishable convenience products for retail, foodservice and food processing industries.

M Ventures, which has headquarters in Amsterdam, forms partnerships with entrepreneurs and co-investors to support early stage investing, company creation and developing spin-offs that leverage Merck’s science and technology base. Alexander Hoffmann, principal at M Ventures, said Mosa Meats is “at the unique cross-section of food and biotech.”

“Replacing traditional meat production with cultured meat would have a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it would free up a large amount of resources that are now used for meat production worldwide and will completely disrupt an old-established and currently unsustainable industry,” Hoffmann said.