Pascual Innoventures, the open innovation arm of Spanish dairy company Calidad Pascual, has launched what it says is the world’s first incubator program for cellular agriculture in the dairy industry. Dubbed Mylkubator, the program will select and work with startups hoping to change the dairy industry through the development of alternative proteins.
The program, which is supported by investment network Eatable Adventures and technology partner CNTA, will choose up to 10 startups to join the six-month hybrid program. Either in-person or virtually (or both), companies will work with mentors and get access to Pascual’s R&D facilities to develop and test their products.
On a high level, cultured milk is created by growing mammary gland cells in an external environment (like a bioreactor) that mimics the one found inside mammals (like a cow). Micronutrients get converted into milk, which can then be harvested and purified. The process requires expertise in a number of different areas, from cell-growth media to machine learning modules that can optimize the production process. Different types of milk, including cow’s milk and human breastmilk, can be made from this process.
To that end, novel growth media, cell-growth techniques, and improvement of cell lines are among the topics the program says it is looking to find companies. And in addition to cellular ag, startups working with fermentation-based solutions or developing applied technologies like machine learning and biorecators are also welcome to apply.
In the realm of alternative protein, the number of well-known companies currently developing milk analogues via cellular agriculture is still pretty small, particularly in comparison to the glut of cell-based meat makers. Turtle Tree Labs and Biomilq are the most well-known companies at this point.
Startups working with both methods are invited to apply for Mylkubator’s program. Those chosen will get a chance to prototype, test and scale their products, in addition to meeting with mentors and potential investors. The application process is open now.