Politics & Law

UK Government Invests £12M in Fermentation Hub for Alternative Proteins

The UK government has announced a £12 million investment in the Microbial Food Hub, a research centre focusing on fermentation-based foods to develop sustainable and innovative alternatives to animal products.

Led by Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro at Imperial College London, the hub will explore technologies that use microorganisms, such as biomass fermentation to develop mycoproteins and precision fermentation to create bioidentical egg or dairy proteins and other ingredients. The hub will also explore traditional fermentation to improve the nutritional quality of plant-based foods.

Experts from various universities, including the University of Reading, the University of Kent, the University of Aberystwyth, the University of Cambridge, and Rothamsted Research, will collaborate on the project along with industrial and food industry partners.

The hub will receive the funds from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the country’s most significant public funding body.

A chicken alternative made with ABUNDA

The UK’s vision for engineering biology

Andrew Griffith, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, made the announcement as part of six new UKRI Engineering Biology Mission Hubs and 22 Mission Award projects, including funds for the University of Oxford cultivated meat researcher Hua Ye. 

​​The mission hubs and award projects are integral to the government’s national vision for engineering biology, which it set forth last December with £2 billion to revolutionise food and sustainable fuel production and medical advancements. 

“Engineering biology has enormous potential to address global challenges, drive economic growth, and increase national security, resilience and preparedness,” said Griffith.

Different dishes topped with animal-free cheese
© Better Dairy

Making alt proteins available

The Good Food Institute Europe has welcomed the new fermentation hub and says the UK has shown continued support for alternative proteins through public investment and plans for regulatory reform for novel foods. 

According to the GFI, UKRI has invested more in alternative proteins in 2023 than in the previous decade. Notable investments include CARMA, the cultivated meat hub, and the £17.4 million Better Food for All call, which awarded Adamo Foods to improve the nutrition of its groundbreaking mycoprotein steaks with vitamin B12 and iron.

Commenting on the new microbial hub, Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the GFI Europe, said that fermentation has the potential to produce local and self-sustainable food options, contributing to overall food security.  

“Following a series of bumper public funding announcements for UK alternative protein researchers and entrepreneurs, this is another strong indication that the British government recognises the need to invest in the R&D necessary to help scale up production, bring costs down and make this food available to everyone,” he added.

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