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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

UK Government invests £12m in new fermentation hub

The UK Government’s national funding agency investing in science and research, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has invested £12 million in the Microbial Food Hub.

The Microbial Food Hub, led by Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro at Imperial College London, will explore innovative methods of using fermentation including developing ingredients capable of producing the flavours and textures of animal products.

The hub will look at biomass fermentation – which can grow large quantities of mycoproteins – as well as traditional fermentation, which uses microbes to improve the nutritional quality of plant-based products. The team will also work to develop precision fermentation. 

Researchers from the University of Reading, the University of Kent, the University of Aberystwyth, the University of Cambridge and Rothamsted Research will also work on the project along with industrial and food industry partners.

UKRI announced the funding as one of six Engineering Biology Mission Hubs, along with investment from its Technical Missions fund for University of Oxford cell-based meat researcher Hua Ye.

The funding comes as the UK continues to ramp up its support for alt-proteins through public investment and plans for regulatory reform. Earlier this week, the minister for investment and regulatory reform, Dominic Johnson, told an event in London that “the opportunities around novel foods are astounding”.

Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Fermentation has extraordinary potential to boost the UK’s food security in an increasingly volatile world, helping us to reduce our dependence on cheap, imported foods”.

“Following a series of bumper public funding announcements for UK alternative protein researchers and entrepreneurs, this is another strong indication that the British government recognises the need to invest in the R&D necessary to help scale up production, bring costs down and make this food available to everyone.”

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