Politics & Law

UK Firms Receive Almost £500,000 Government Grant for Cultivated Meat Project

The research company Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and two Newcastle University spinoffs, MarraBio and Aelius Biotech, have been awarded an almost £500,000 grant by Innovate UK for a cultivated meat project.

With the grant, the organizations will leverage their expertise and capabilities to develop a low-emission, cost-effective method for producing cultivated meat. 

The project will further research engineered protein materials developed by MarraBio to replace expensive reagents currently used in large-scale cell-based meat biomanufacturing.

A drawing of bacterial polymers
© MarraBio

Food safe bacterial polymers 

MarraBio develops alternative bacterial protein polymers that help cells grow, divide, and behave normally. These proteins are made with multifunctional, low-cost raw materials, significantly reducing costs. 

However, to use these polymers for food production, the manufacturing process must be modified to meet food regulations.

As explained by MarraBio, to achieve food safety standards, CPI will leverage its expertise in bioprocessing systems and food regulations across its North East sites, while Aelius Biotech will ensure their safety for consumption by testing the materials in a patented lab model of the human gut system.

Dr. Daniel Peters, CEO at MarraBio, said: “We are very excited to be working with CPI and Aelius Biotech on this project to help improve our ability to manufacture these materials at high quality and low cost, to accelerate cultivated meat development.”

A banner detailing the potential environmental benefits of cultivated meat.
© Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

Greener food production

Traditional farming methods emit up to 60% of food-production-related GHG emissions; however, according to the companies, cultivated meat has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 90%.

UKRI has shown previous support for novel food production by investing in projects such as the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA), which focuses on cultivated meat, and, more recently, the Microbial Food Hub, a research center dedicated to fermentation-based foods.

Moreover, last year, the UK government unveiled a  £2 billion national vision for engineering biology to revolutionize food, sustainable fuel production, and medical advancements with sustainable alternatives.

The project, scheduled for completion by December 2024, will be carried out at CPI’s Novel Food Innovation Centre in Wilton, Redcar.

Brendan Fish, Biologics Director at CPI, said: Food production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Ensuring a sustainable food industry that is fit for the future is a challenge we know we must act on now if we are going to reach our ambition of becoming ​’Net Zero.'”

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