UKRI research councils to fund development of £15M sustainable protein research hub
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has revealed plans to invest £15 million towards creating a new hub dedicated to sustainable protein research.
From 2024 to 2029, the Alternative Proteins Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) will offer a space for businesses and academic researchers to work together on multiple projects, including scaling up production of high-quality plant-based, fermented, and cultivated meat, and making it cheaper to produce.
Funding is being provided by UKRI’s research councils Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK.
Activities within the Alternative Proteins IKC are expected to explore cultivated meat, fermentation systems for algal, bacterial or fungal fermentation, plant-based alternative proteins, as well as novel aquaculture systems, insect production and seaweed cultivation.
The space will also look to address specific shared research and innovation issues within areas such as ingredients or feedstocks and inputs, production and processing, final product development, and best practice.
BBSRC and Innovate UK say the goal of the investment is to “ensure the UK capitalises on its cutting-edge research and innovation potential across the alternative protein industry”.
The funding is the largest single public investment the country has made in plant-based and cultivated meat so far, according to NGO The Good Food Institute.
Dr Stella Child, Research and Grants Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, commented on the news: “It’s great to see the UK investing in essential research that will make sustainable options delicious, affordable and accessible – and position the country as a global leader in this burgeoning field.
“This is exactly the kind of investment our recent report called for. To maximise the potential of this groundbreaking new research centre, the government must also step up policy efforts in other areas like regulation to develop a thriving sustainable protein sector.”
Applications for the funding opportunity are due to open in autumn 2023. To be considered for the grant, candidates must be based at a UK research organisation that is eligible for UKRI funding. Academic organisations can apply to be a project lead or co-lead while businesses can be project partners. More information on eligibility for the project is available on the UKRI website.