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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

CFIN invests in two cell-ag start-ups, Myo Palate and The Verschuren Centre

The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) today announced it was investing around CAD 3.16 million (approx. $2.35 million) into two food-tech projects that are creating resiliency in Canada's food sector through cellular food innovation.

The projects, which are valued at over CAD 6 million (approx $4.46 million), and are funded through the organisation’s ‘Food Innovation Challenge Program’, are Myo Palate and The Verschuren Centre.

Myo Palate, based in Ontario, Canada, is scaling cell-based pork production using embryonic stem cells. The start-up has successfully addressed a significant production challenge within the cell-based meat sector – by harnessing pig embryonic stem cells (ESCs), known for their vitality, food-tech company has overcome the obstacle of muscle cell maturation. This innovation ensures sustained muscle fibre development, as these ESCs and their offspring are cultivated without encountering cellular fatigue.

Collaborating with researchers from the University of Toronto, Myo Palate is applying established machine learning algorithms to refine cell growth conditions, solidifying the effectiveness of its approach. The company has partnered with Canadian med-tech company Getinge Canada and will engineer a bespoke bioreactor process, designed to facilitate large-scale cell-based pork manufacturing.

Frank Yu, co-founder, Myo Palate, said: "The CFIN Food Innovation Challenge comes at a time in which novel approaches to the production of cultivated meats are needed. Myo Palate and our project partners are thrilled by this opportunity to work together and scale our innovative approach. Through our bioprocess, we will challenge the status quo in cellular manufacturing and bring Canada to the forefront of cultivated meats.”

The Verschuren Centre, through its project ‘Automation and Digital Twin Integration for Precision Fermentation Scale Up of Cell-Based Food Ingredients’, collaborates with technology SMEs to harness synthetic biology for advancing cell-based food solutions through precision fermentation.

These SMEs specialise in producing essential food molecules such as flavours, binders, pigments, proteins, oils and polymers from natural sources. The Verschuren Centre's project involves constructing a 10,000-litre precision fermentation facility – the first of its kind in Canada – to facilitate progression for companies from pilot to commercial production. This capacity-building effort offers accessible open access, expediting process scaling and product purification for food manufacturers.

By integrating advanced automation, digital twin technology and machine learning, the initiative focuses on optimising two facets: swift fermentation process enhancement and maximised efficiency in material inputs. This approach empowers companies to streamline their market entry, reduce costs and establish a resilient Canadian supply chain.

Beth Mason CEO of The Verschuren Centre commented: "Bio-manufacturing companies, particularly cellular agriculture and therapeutics require three key factors for success: capacity, a highly trained workforce, and investment. Adding innovative tools to accelerate the path through scale is vital to getting more companies through faster, all the while advancing their own design engineering for plant buildout in Canada.”

Dana McCauley, CEO at CFIN, said: “Funding and supporting cellular food innovation is a critical stride towards sustainable nourishment, bridging the gap between growing demand and limited resources. These two projects are prime examples of how Canada is spearheading a new era of food innovation on the world stage, showcasing how collaboration, novel ideas, and responsible science can redefine how we sustainably feed our growing global population.”

#CanadianFoodInnovationNetwork #CFIN #MyoPalate #TheVerschurenCentre #Canada

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