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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation have joined forces to support a new consortium utilising CO2 to produce proteins for food applications.

The new consortium will provide companies and university researchers with the opportunity to create a sustainable source of protein for human food derived from CO2.

The consortium aims to help fight the rising global problem of food insecurity and greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture.

man using bioreactor

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation are supporting the initiative with an investment of up to DKK 200 million (approx $29.02 million).

The consortium combines knowledge and expertise from biotech innovator Novozymes and chemical engineering company Topsoe, Washington University in St. Louis in the US and the Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center (CORC) at Aarhus University in Denmark.

The first step of the consortium is to optimise, evaluate and mature three potential production technologies with the goal to lift all technologies to demonstration scale within two years.

The consortium partners have several production technologies and facilities at their disposal, enabling them to take advantage of existing infrastructure to verify and scale the new developments expected from the collaboration. This provides opportunity to create synergy across the different technologies involved in the collaboration and works to significantly speed up the upscaling process.

Claus Crone Fuglsang, chief science officer at Novozymes, said: “With this programme, there is a possibility to develop a completely climate-neutral way of transforming CO2 into protein without the use of land, water and fertiliser. I am excited and proud that we can contribute with technology and know-how that makes this transformation possible – it holds tremendous potential for having bio-solutions solve major world problems.”

In a statement, the Novo Nordisk Foundation said: “The technologies are estimated to be able to produce enough protein for more than 1 billion people every year, creating a stable source of nutritious food for people living in areas with limited potential for conventional agriculture”.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, said: "The technologies offer a big potential to provide food security globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries. It is therefore very important that the technologies can be implemented in areas of the world where they can benefit the most at a fair cost. This is ensured with the setup of this consortium.”

The two foundations are each funding half of the activities in the consortium. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding activities at Novozymes and Washington University, and The Novo Nordisk Foundation is funding activities at Topsoe and the CORC at Aarhus University.

The total funding of DKK 200 million covers a two-year period, with The Novo Nordisk Foundation stating that if the work in the consortium is successful, there is the possibility to continue the support for later stages of the project, where the technologies could be matured even further.


CO2 as a sustainable raw material in future food production

Phoebe Fraser

20 June 2023

CO2 as a sustainable raw material in future food production

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