When Erwin Schrodinger was awarded the Nobel prize in 1933 for his famous equation, he was asked by a reporter how was an abstract mathematical equation even useful and what was the point of supporting research like that.
Few decades later, Schrodinger's equation forms the basis of understanding the barrier tunelling phenomena that is a cornerstone of modern day electronics.
Moral of the story - the benefits of basic research is not always immediately apparent.
Originally Posted by Hunterace
Why is this a scientific goal?
From what I understood (and I am no biologist - may be I am wrong about this), the scientific challenge is to get a better hang of tissue engineering. The effort was based around engineering artificial meat using stem cells. I suppose the burger is basically the proof that artificial meat is a possibility using stem cells, and this is basically a stem cell research project, with the "burger" aspect being more of a headline grabber.
One of the issues with populist headline grabbing in a work like this is the actual message can easily get lost in translation (might ave happened here). Its a challenge that scientists will always have to grapple with - popularizing their work, and reaching out to the rest without obfuscating their core message.