Hollywood actor Leonardo Dicaprio has invested in Aleph Farms, a startup that was "the brainchild of a Technion professor," the university stated on Thursday.
Aleph Farms, co-founded in 2017 by Professor Shulamit Levenberg from the Biomedical Engineering Faculty, rolled out the first-ever cultivated steak the following year. The startup, which plans to go to market in the next year, "isolates animal cells in a lab and reproduces the optimal conditions for them to grow into tissue," the university also stated.
The company reportedly offers a solution to reduce the negative impact of the production of industrial beef, as global meat consumption is projected to grow within the next few decades.
Such negative impacts of production include using up resources, animal abuse and the increase in carbon and nitrogen emissions.
DiCaprio, who is also known for his environmentalism work and advocacy, joined the startup in an effort to support sustainable technologies.
This would not be the first time that the Hollywood star had invested in an Israeli business for environmental purposes, as in 2018 he invested in a green-certified hotel in Herzliya.
Regarding his work with Aleph Farms, DiCaprio said: “one of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system,” DiCaprio said. The actor also stated that he is “very pleased to join “as an advisor and investor as they prepare to introduce cultivated beef to consumers.”
Alan Aziz, Director of Technion UK, said in a statement that “it’s not every day that an Academy Award-winning actor champions what you do, but with such a heavyweight - both in the movie and environmental industry. It’s a huge stamp of approval in the bid towards a more sustainable way to consume meat."
Also outside of his Hollywood career, DiCaprio made Israeli headlines when he dated model Bar Refaeli between 2006 and 2011. He visited Israel in 2007 with Refaeli where they met with then-president Shimon Peres to discuss environmental issues.
However, in 2019, years after Dipario and Refaeli had broken up, the latter had been accused of attempting to dodge Israeli tax authorities and was requested to pay the state NIS 8 million for her income during 2009-2010, determined the Israeli Tax Authority.
This eventually led to Rafaeli's lawyers asking DiCaprio to testify for her in court because the two had lived in the US during their relationship. Rafaeli's lawyers claimed that her relationship with DiCaprio constituted a family unit.
Amy Spiro and Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.