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This Space Tourist is a Cultured Meat Philanthropist

It was at lunch time, minutes before I was going to present some ideas on biotech regulation over livestream, when I got the Skype call.

It was The Shuttleworth Foundation saying they would be funding my work with New Harvest!

Published July 26, 2016 | Updated October 4, 2021 | Isha Datar

Mark Shuttleworth in astronaut suit in a space shuttle

Mark Shuttleworth, South African entrepreneur and space tourist. Photo by Mikhail Grachyev/AFP/Getty Images

The Shuttleworth Foundation funds people who are developing open source technologies. The Foundation’s founder and funder, Mark Shuttleworth, achieved great commercial success by building his first company on free and open source software that was available for anyone to use and modify. He’s paying it forward to build an open knowledge society.

With funding from the Shuttleworth Foundation, New Harvest will be creating open sourced starter cultures for the production of cell cultured foods.

These starter cultures are going to be the cell lines for beef, pork, chicken, etc. — made publicly available, to catalyze cultured meat research all over the world.

The Shuttleworth Foundation’s open philosophy — which New Harvest is applying to cultured meat research.

By making the basic tools of cultured meat research freely accessible, New Harvest is radically lowering the barrier to entry for cultured meat research.

A researcher will simply have to order the starter culture from a tissue or cell bank in order to work on cultured meat. Without this, researchers are forced to a) visit a slaughterhouse and spend months creating their own starter cultures, or b) pay someone else to do that, for a lot of money.

Here’s the video we applied with, illustrating why we think the open source model will be so crucial for the early stages of cultured meat research.

The application video — yes Isha had a cold ;) —made  with help from Nadja Oertelt!

The pretty cool thing about the Shuttleworth Fellowship is how it works.

Shuttleworth will pay Isha’s salary for an entire year. And for every dollar that taken out of her salary to put towards New Harvest’s open source research, the Shuttleworth Foundation with contribute at least 10 dollars.

Here’s how:

The Shuttleworth Fellowship model

Thanks to every one of you who have contributed to New Harvest’s work!

We are building an exciting, delicious, future together.

About the Authors
Isha Datar is Executive Director at New Harvest