Food is a necessity of life, yet the sustainable sourcing of food is a persistent challenge when it comes to sustainability and combatting the climate crisis. While the negative impacts of global, large-scale food production will take years to overcome, H2i venture Myo Palate is successfully working on one piece of the puzzle to improve food sustainability – protein consumption cultivated by science. 

With their innovative take on making meat better for humans, animals, and the planet, the Myo Palate team has repeatedly demonstrated that they have the ideas, skills, and determination that are needed to grow and succeed within the entrepreneurship space. It is with great pleasure that H2i announces Myo Palate as the recipient of the annual Temerty Innovation Prize for Student Entrepreneurship!  

In its third year, the prize has been made possible by the generous gift from James and Louise Temerty and the Temerty Foundation. As an endowed prize, it will support student entrepreneurs from the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the University of Toronto, in perpetuity. We sat down with Myo Palate Co-Founder, Frank Yu, as he reflected on this recent honour and Myo Palate’s overall journey to date. 

Based in Toronto and composed of a team of scientists, engineers and – most importantly – food lovers, Myo Palate is a biotechnology company using cellular agriculture to develop sustainable meat products, without animals. They do this by nurturing only the cells needed to make meat and applying cutting-edge technologies in tissue engineering to achieve their mission: making meat sustainable and accessible for everyone.

When reflecting on Myo Palate’s early beginnings, Yu recalls, “My Co-Founder Charlie Hua and I started Myo Palate over beers at our favourite pub during our undergraduate years at the University of Toronto. The idea came from a collision of our love for science, food and innovation.”  

The two founders consulted with some of Toronto’s best stem cell and machine-learning experts, and downstream food processors. Realizing that their passion for food could intersect with science to create meaningful change, Yu and Hua got to work, forming their venture: Myo Palate. They continued their work as Yu completed the next chapter of his academic journey: completing his Master’s in Physiology at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.  

The journey to date for Myo Palate has come with many opportunities to learn and grow. When considering challenges that the team has faced along the way, Yu reflected that, “One of my most significant learnings has been the profound impact of authentic networking. In competitive environments, networking is often misconstrued as merely transactional. However, I have always believed in the importance of forging genuine connections. By understanding others and offering assistance without expecting immediate returns, I have discovered that such sincere interactions not only foster lasting professional relationships, but also enriches personal growth.”

Myo Palate’s strength in forging genuine professional relationships has helped them overcome learning curves, evident by the growth and success that the venture has seen over the last few years. The team has recently achieved various technological breakthroughs and highlights their excitement to move into a new office space as Myo Palate continues to expand. 

“Our journey in cultivated meats is marked by continuous innovation,” Yu shared. “We’re on track to introduce products to the market within the next two to three years, while constantly enhancing our technologies. To ensure that we can produce the most advanced technologies to provide better and cheaper products, we recently built a 14,000 square foot tailored facility in downtown Toronto, including a general wet lab space, CL2 lab space, and a production cleanroom. This facility will house our high-throughput technologies, state-of-the art diagnostics and bioreactors that can hold up to 100 liters.”  

Based on his experience of growing a successful venture, the best advice Yu has for new ventures is to have a good, and realistic, balance between vision and feasibility. “Having grand visions is a hallmark of founders, and it is indeed a vital component of entrepreneurship. Yet, the key to effective company management lies in striking a balance between visionary aspirations and practical execution. It is essential to not only dream big but also to channel those dreams into tangible, achievable actions. This involves setting realistic goals, consistently monitoring progress and maintaining a focus on the day-to-day operational realities of your business. By doing so, founders can turn their expansive visions into concrete successes.” 

Looking ahead and using the Temerty Innovation Prize for Student Entrepreneurship, Myo Palate is gearing up for small, local production of cultivated pork in the coming months. The team is also currently hiring, as they are aiming to expand thanks to their new office space. If anyone is interested in learning more about Myo Palate’s work, new space or getting involved in their mission, visit their website here

Myo Palate is one of the many ventures emerging from the robust and growing entrepreneurship ecosystem at the University of Toronto. H2i and the Temerty Foundation look forward to the continued support and acceleration of cutting-edge health innovation across the university landscape and beyond. 

Congratulations again, Team Myo Palate!