Despite booming commercial interest in plant-based and cultivated meat, funding for academic research lags behind and the industries face a dearth of the open-access data that will be required to overcome technical hurdles and scale-up to price parity
For the second consecutive year, The Good Food Institute has launched its multimillion-dollar Competitive Research Grant Program, offering at least $3.1 million in 2019 to support promising plant-based and cultivated meat research projects. All told, GFI will dedicate at least $4.5 million in 2019, including $1.4 million for other projects outside the Competitive Research Grant Program, to advance the science of plant-based and cultivated meat and produce open-access data that accelerates the entire sector.
The funding on offer through GFI’s 2019 Competitive Research Grant Program is the largest ever allocated to advancing open-access plant-based meat science, and the largest in two decades for open-access cultivated meat science. The program will fund solutions to improve the sensory qualities, cost, and production scale-up of plant-based and cultivated meat.
Plant-based meat and cultivated meat have the potential to transform the global food system and address the many environmental, human health, and animal welfare issues associated with conventional meat production. However, making plant-based and cultivated meat a viable part of the food system requires the industries to overcome significant technical hurdles that remain on the path to price parity, scale-up, and commercialization. Building a base of open-access data will enable the entire industry to advance more efficiently, allowing researchers to build off each other’s work and prevent duplication of effort.
“We need vastly more research and more funding to accelerate the plant-based and cultivated meat industries and build the scientific foundation of a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. Given the dearth of research funding currently available, the work made possible through this program will fill one part of an enormous whitespace,” said The Good Food Institute Executive Director Bruce Friedrich.
“With scientific advances made by private companies often protected as trade secrets, it is critical that a robust foundation of open-access data is built to support the entire sector and help bring plant-based and cultivated meat to the masses,” he said.
“Despite recent booming private sector activity among plant-based companies, we’ve already seen issues with supply interruptions and scaling. There is room for improving the scale and efficiency of the supply chains, as well as optimizing plant ingredients to enhance flavor experiences. For cultivated meat, there are vast opportunities to develop better cell lines and animal-free media, build scaffolding systems, and enhance bioreactor design,” said The Good Food Institute Associate Director of Science and Technology Erin Rees Clayton.
“We have only just begun to scratch the surface and there are so many challenges that still remain. There is a huge amount of research still needing to be done if we want to see plant-based and cultivated meat become an integral part of the global food supply.”
In 2018, GFI funded 14 research proposals from eight countries, including Canada, China, Estonia, Israel, Norway, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Proposal submissions for the 2019 program are due October 28, 2019 and successful grant applicants will be announced in early 2020.
More information and interviews:
MEET SOME OF GFI’S 2018 GRANT RECIPIENTS
Dr. Peter Stogios, Senior Research Associate, University of Toronto, Canada:
Dr. Peter Stogios is exploring how to make growth factors—key proteins for producing cultivated meat—at a fraction of the cost. By focusing on these proteins, Dr. Stogios aims to make all cultivated meat production less expensive.
Dr. Raivo Vilu, R&D Director, and Ms. Mari-Liis Tammik, Research Scientist, TFTAK (Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies), Estonia:
Mari-Liis Tammik and her team, directed by Dr. Raivo Vilu, are using fermented oat protein to optimize the texture, flavor, and nutrition of plant-based meat. Tammik’s research will harness the power of oat, a common and resource-efficient grain, to diversify the plant-based meat ingredient supply chain and advance the entire plant-based market.
Read more about the 2018 recipients at www.gfi.org/researchgrants
ABOUT THE GOOD FOOD INSTITUTE
The Good Food Institute is a global nonprofit focused on building a sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Our team of scientists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and policy experts are harnessing the power of food innovation and markets to accelerate the transition of the world’s food system to plant-based and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy.