Ling Ka Yi (Singapore Entrepreneur)

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Ling Ka Yi
Ling Ka Yi.jpg
Born1987
EducationBachelor of Science (Molecular Biology)

Master of Science

Doctor of Philosophy (Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology)
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison

Ling Ka Yi (born 1987) is the co-founder of the agri-tech start-up, Shiok Meats which specialises in the production of cell-based crustacean meat. A trained developmental and stem cell biologist, she is also the company's Chief Scientific Officer where she manages the company's scientific team and conducts lab research to produce new meat products.[1][2] In 2020, Ling Ka Yi was featured on MIT Technology Review's 'Innovators Under 35' and 'The Gen.T List' for her achievements in the fields of science and technology.[3][4] She also has a solo podcast called 'Science Now' and a collaborative podcast called 'Life after PhD' with other scientists.[5]

Background[edit | edit source]

Ling Ka Yi (pictured) was a full-time scientist before establishing Shiok Meats in 2018.

Education[edit | edit source]

Ling Ka Yi was a student in a Singapore junior college when she knew that she wanted to pursue scientific research.[1] In 2006, she went to the United States of America on an A*STAR national science scholarship to study molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 2009, she returned to UW-Madison in 2010 to pursue a masters and a doctorate in endocrinology and reproductive physiology.[6] While at UW-Madison, Ling Ka Yi participated in several extra-curricular activities. Ling Ka Yi said the following about her time at UW-Madison:

"Some of my favourite experiences in Madison include helping organise the World Stem Cell Summit in 2008, the Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center (SCRMC) Fall Conference in 2013, the Wisconsin Stem Cell Roundtable (WiSCR) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2013, and outreach with the SCRMC Stem Cell Learning Lab."[7]

Ling Ka Yi graduated from UW-Madison in 2015.[6]

Early career[edit | edit source]

After completing her graduate studies, Ling Ka Yi worked as a postdoctorate research fellow at A*STAR, a governmental research institute in Singapore. Speaking about her career shift from academia to entrepreneurship, she said:

"I didn’t enjoy the way academic research was focused on grant-writing and journal publishing. I felt that even if research was published in top tier journals, they often did not impact the public... Being able to trace the source of food production has been a huge concern for me and cell-based meats provide a perfectly transparent way to do so."[8]

Entrepreneurship[edit | edit source]

The co-founders of Shiok Meats, Sandhya Sriram (left) and Ling Ka Yi (right).

In 2019, Ling Ka Yi was an invited speaker at the Singapore National Library Board's 'Four Conversations' programme where she shared about the scientific innovation at Shiok Meats. She said:

"Cell-based (agriculture) is a fusion of bio-technology and food, which has never been done before. There are pieces of the technology around but its not there yet... we need to use what was used for medical purposes and (apply that) to food... There is a lot of money coming in from private investors, but it will take several rounds of raising money before we get to the market."[9]

Shiok Meats secured a US$4.6 million in seed funding from influential investors such as the CEO of Monde Nissin and Y Combinator in April 2019.[10] In September 2020, the company raised another US$12.6 million in a Series A funding round.[11]

Co-founder of Shiok Meats[edit | edit source]

The co-founders of Shiok Meats presenting their cell-based shrimp dumplings at the 2019 DFSS.

Ling Ka Yi founded Shiok Meats in August 2018 alongside fellow stem cell biologist, Sandhya Sriram.[12][13] The two had met at a networking dinner organised by A*STAR.[14] Sharing with Science Centre Singapore about the company's decision to focus on crustacean meat, Ling Ka Yi said:

"We wanted to be Asia-focused and seafood is one of the most popular meats for Asians. Furthermore, there was no other startups working on crustaceans."[14]

During the early research and development stages, the co-founders worked on a US$10,000 investment and rented a lab on St John's Island, an offshore island located in Singapore waters.[5][15]

Product development[edit | edit source]

In March 2019, Shiok Meats showcased its first product; shrimp dumplings (Siew Mai) at the Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit (DFSS).[16][17] The company then showcased its cell-based lobster meat in November 2020.[18][19] Ling Ka Yi summarised the company's manufacturing process and products as such:

"Right now, we’re only producing meat. We’re not doing shells, heads or eyes... There might be people who do [eat them], but most of the nutrients come from the meat itself. At the bottom level, it’s all cells. They’re little Lego blocks. We’re just producing the Lego blocks in a brewing tank, instead of inside an animal."[1]

References/ Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Low, Angela. "Meet Shiok Meats – The World’s First Start-Up To Grow Shrimp From Stem Cells". High Net Worth. August 2, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  2. Li, Lili. "Portfolio celebrates women in STEM". Portfolio Magazine Singapore. March 9, 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  3. "Biotechnology & medicine Ka Yi Ling". Innovators Under 35. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  4. "The Gen.T List". The Gen.T List. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Thang, Farisia. "Using Stem Cells, This Scientist Wants To Create Meat That Is Environmentally-Friendly And Healthy". Women's Weekly. July 30, 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Ka Yi LING, PhD". LinkedIn. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  7. Lenon, Jordana. "WHERE WOULD STEM CELL RESEARCH AND OUTREACH BE TODAY WITHOUT KA YI LING?". STEM CELL & REGENERATIVE MEDICINE CENTER. August 22, 2017. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  8. Clugston, Erika. "Why Grow Shrimp? An Interview With The Founders Of Shiok Meats". Clean Technica. April 8, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  9. National Library Board. "Ling Ka Yi | Bojan Blecic | Four Conversations 2019". YouTube. June 4, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  10. Rowland, Michael Pellman. "Shiok Meats Raises $4.6 Million Seed Round To Develop Cell-Based Shrimp". Forbes. April 28, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  11. Yu, Doris. "Singapore’s Shiok Meats nets $12.6m series A money". Tech In Asia. September 29, 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  12. "Team". Shiok Meats. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  13. "Fighting for Sustainability: One Shrimp at a Time". Asia Pacific Biotech News. August 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "STEM 1-On-1 Serves up with Ka Yi Ling". Science Centre Singapore. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  15. Lim, Mary and Lauren Tan. "First Of: Sandhya Sriram & Ling Ka YiThe first to introduce lab-grown seafood in Southeast Asia.". Read A. July 30. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  16. Shabana Begum. "Lab-grown shrimp dumplings taste like the real thing". The Straits Times. April 26, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  17. Co, Cindy. "Siew mai goes high tech: Singapore's first cell-based shrimp dumplings launched". Channel News Asia. March 30, 2019. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  18. Chuo, Deviana and Quynh Nguyen. "SEA Digest: Shiok Meats partners Singapore Polytechnic; Myanmar's Hi-So bags capital". Deal street Asia. November 27, 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.
  19. "Singaporean group debuts lab-grown lobster on heels of equity investment". IntraFish Media. November 30, 2020. Accessed on 3 December 2020.