Competition launched to advance low-emission foods

Article by Amanda Jasi

INNOVATE UK and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have jointly launched a £16m (US$19.8m) competition to advance novel, resource-efficient, and low-emission food production.

The investment partners in the Novel Low Emission Food Production Systems competition said that applying projects must develop emerging novel food production systems towards commercial viability and the ability to supply mainstream consumer markets. The new competition will particularly support proteins to deliver healthy and sustainable diets.

Innovate UK and BBSRC, both part of national funding agency UK Research and Innovation, say they welcome proposals that have the potential to shift the current state of the art in at least one of six priority areas. The include novel plant-based products or production systems; acellular food production; cellular food production; novel aquaculture systems; new food production systems; and total controlled-environment agriculture systems. The projects must also rely on UK strengths and expertise in creating new production systems and technologies.

The competition is split into two strands. Those applying to the feasibility studies strand must have total project costs between £200,000 and £500,000, while projects applying to the industrial research strand must cost between £500,000 and £1m.

Tom Jenkins, deputy challenge director for the transforming food production programme at Innovate UK, said: “This funding will enable UK companies to partner with our world-leading science-base to develop innovative, low emission food production systems that meet rising consumer demand for products like alternative proteins.

“Producing food in new environments can help take pressure away from traditional land-based systems while also supporting our transition towards net zero.”

Lee Beniston, associate director for industry partnerships and collaboration at BBSRC, said: “This joint BBSRC and Innovate UK investment will support incredibly important capacity building, research, innovation and business-led commercialisation to help develop alternative, more sustainable protein sources.

“This will help to ensure the UK continues to be at the forefront of what is an innovative and rapidly evolving sector in the UK and globally.”

The competition opened for application on 18 January and will close on 19 April at 11:00 local time.

It forms part of Innovate UK’s funding support to grow the future economy as outlined in its 2021–2025 plan for action. It is also part of a strategic partnership that Innovate UK and BBSRC announced in December to support businesses to engage with and benefit from the UK research base to grow and scale innovations.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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