Half a million-fund awarded to North East innovators to help bring lab grown meat to the masses

Three North-East based organisations are set to cement the regions reputation as the UK’s hub of cultivated (lab grown) meat production after winning a grant worth close to half a million pounds from Innovate UK to develop new, more cost-effective technologies in a burgeoning market.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), MarraBio, and Aelius Biotech will work together to develop low emission food production systems that they say is at a lower cost than is currently possible.

The project is set to use engineered protein materials produced by MarraBio which may come to replace more expensive materials currently being used in larger scale productions for cultivated meat at a significantly reduced cost.

The way the technology works is that MarraBio engineers protein building blocks to contain the biological messages that cells need to grow, divide and behave properly. These blocks then assemble into long, strong chains that provide a good material for the cells to grow on.

These cells can then be grown on an industrial scale to be used for food production.

The three parties say the UK needs to switches some of our current eating habits. Current evidence suggest that traditionally farmed meat contributes up to 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from food production with cultivated meat potentially able to reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent.

There is also increasing demand as consumers are more open than ever to making the switch to cultivated meat. A recent Food Standards Agency Study highlighted 32 per cent of people in the UK being willing to try it, making cheaper food production systems essential.

The project will take place at the recently established Novel Food Innovation Centre in Wilton, Redcar, with an expected completion date of December 2024.

Brendan Fish, Biologics director at CPI said the CPI is delighted to be working with MarraBio and Aelius Biotech on the project.

“It’s another step towards establishing the North East as the UK’s hub for greener food production systems,” Fish added. “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”. It’s fantastic to see the North East stepping up and meeting that challenge head on.”

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, with the aim of accelerating cultivated meat development. It’s great to be able to establish this new collaboration in the North East and to play a role in helping to reduce the carbon emissions associated with food production.”

Dr. Peter Chater, CEO at Aelius Biotech, said: “Lab grown meat has huge potential as an alternative source of protein in our diets, and it’s great to be working with the teams at Marrabio and CPI on a technology that can help make this a reality.”

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