29 Feb Sustainability is single most important subject for people & planet
Mark Post is a Dutch pharmacologist who is Professor of Vascular Physiology at Maastricht University. He is also co-founder and CSO of Mosa Meat, the Dutch company that will bring the first lab-grown beef burger to the market. During the Sustainability & Business Ethics module of MaastrichtMBA in February, Mark inspired our students with a lecture on sustainability. We are proud that this world-famous professor and entrepreneur wanted to be part of our MBA programme. We sat down with Mark to talk about business, sustainability and Mosa Meat.
In 2013, Mark Post unveiled the world’s first slaughter-free hamburger. The burger was harvested directly from cow cells, rather than raising and slaughtering a whole animal. It was the result of years of research at Maastricht University. The effort was funded by Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google.
“Following the success of the first hamburger, we created Mosa Meat to commercialise cultured meat”, says Post. “The first aim of the company is to reduce the environmental impact of meat production and consumption by replacing meat with a sustainable alternative. Other advantages are luckily following, such as reduction of use of antibiotics, animal suffering and consumer health. Our business model is not focused on maximising return but on finding the fastest way to roll out the technology so that it can have its impact. Fortunately, our current consumables are very expensive, which is a big incentive to minimise input and recycle as much as we can.”
Sustainable business opportunities
The Sustainability Development Goals offer many business opportunities, according to Post. “They are not really goals, they are inevitabilities. If your business is not focusing on any of these goals, its future is dead.
When it comes to business opportunities, the Netherlands has particular areas of interest that are either historically grown or determined by our limiting natural conditions. Agriculture, transport and water management are obvious ones. Being one of the countries with a very well-established collection system of recyclables, there are unique opportunities for creating a circular economy in the Netherlands as well. The open Dutch culture, sometimes referred to as lack of a distinct culture, is also a big advantage in getting new policies or technologies adopted. At the same time, as a highly urbanised area, there are major advances to be made towards improving the climate and living conditions such as air quality.”
Different way of thinking
Mark Post thinks it is good that MaastrichtMBA devotes a complete module to the theme of sustainability. “Everyone, including MBA students, must be convinced that sustainability is the single most important subject for people and planet. The Sustainability & Business Ethics module is a good initiative because business is an instrument to drive real change in society. In addition, the focus on sustainability requires a slightly different way of thinking: less focus on volume and margins and more towards additional added values, such as health, happiness, inclusivity and environment.”
Mosa Meat’s future goals
Like any other growing company, Mosa Meat has goals for the coming years. Post and his business partners want to scale up production and make cultured meat a high-quality product with the least amount of input. “It is our goal to get this to the market as quickly as possible, given necessary approval procedures”, says Post. “After the industrial scale is achieved in a test factory, the technology will be scaled out by licensing to third parties. We opt for this strategy because setting up a production facility is capital intensive and we want to spread that burden. In addition, significant volumes can be reached quicker by scaling out. The third and final reason is that regulatory approval procedures are determined nationally and ideally are initiated by local partners.”
Follow your passion
To conclude the interview, we would like to know if Post has a tip or lesson for our MBA community. Post: “Follow your passion! Convincing investors, personnel and consumers is a lot easier if you are passionate. Furthermore, overcoming inevitable setbacks will require less effort and life will be more satisfying.”