Imagindairy and Ginkgo Bioworks Receive Grant to Accelerate the Launch of Cow-Free Dairy Proteins

Israeli animal-free dairy protein developer Imagindairy and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), a Boston-based biotech specializing in cell programming, announce a partnership to accelerate the introduction of a new wave of cow-free dairy.

A joint grant from the Board of Governors of the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation has partly funded the companies’s multiyear program to commercialize non-whey proteins.

“We’re confident this collaboration will unlock further product offerings, providing consumers with additional animal-free dairy delights”

The collaboration will leverage Ginkgo Bioworks’ Protein Expression Services and Imagindairy’s process development and scale-up expertise to develop and manufacture animal-free whey cost-effectively to reach prices similar to dairy proteins.  Ginkgo is also working with the Chicago-based alt-seafood producer Aqua Cultured Foods to improve the economics and functions of its microbial strains for large-scale operations.

Jennifer Wipf, CEO at Ginkgo Bioworks, shares, “Being awarded this highly competitive grant is a testament to our technical expertise and ability to accomplish this project with Imagindairy.”

Next-level alt dairy

Founded in 2020, Imagindairy aims to revolutionize the dairy industry by creating products that do not come from cows but still have the taste and qualities consumers associate with dairy. 

The Israeli biotech has developed an AI precision fermentation platform to produce cow-free dairy proteins using the fungus Aspergillus oryzae. The fungus is said to be 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feed into proteins while delivering a bioidentical version of their animal counterparts. 

In tandem, Ginkgo Bioworks will use its advanced protein expression technology to create more efficient microorganisms that produce high-quality non-whey proteins at lower costs. Imagindairy will then refine the production process, scale production, and manufacture these proteins, accelerating the time to market.

 “I can speak for the entire team when I say that the samples that Imagindairy have shared are absolutely next-level. If the rest of their pipeline is anything like what we’ve tasted, we can’t wait to try what’s next,” Wipf comments.

Danone invests in Imagindairy to develop animal-free dairy
© Imagindairy

Animal-free dairy delights

Last year, Imagindairy secured the FDA’s GRAS status for its animal-free whey protein in the US, allowing for new collaborations in the animal-free dairy space. With its recently opened headquarters in Israel and its recently acquired operational production lines to produce animal-free proteins at scale, it aims to enter the Israeli retail market by this year.

Imagindairy has reportedly raised over $30 million from various investors, including Danone Manifesto Ventures. The startup was among the founding members of the Precision Fermentation Alliance and Food Fermentation Europe.

Eyal Afergan, co-founder & CEO at Imagindairy, comments: “We’re confident this collaboration will unlock further product offerings, providing consumers with additional animal-free dairy delights that match the cost and taste of traditional dairy, making significant contributions to the industry, consumers, and the world.”

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