The Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit trying to promote the evolution of alternative protein, announced today that it had awarded $4 million to 21 research projects to advance the study of plant-based and cultured meat. The money came from GFI’s donor-supported Competitive Research Grant Program, which thus far has donated over $7 million since it was founded last year.
The selected projects hail from nine different countries. Eight are tackling cultured (which GFI called ‘cultivated‘) meat and Here’s a quick list of some of the cool projects the 2020 grantees are leading:
- Faster, cheaper cultured meat production. Dr. Marianne Ellis of the University of Bath, UK is developing a smaller, more cost-efficient production system for cell-based meat. She hopes that this will make cellular agriculture more accessible, including for those in remote locations and developing countries.
- Turning waste into plant protein. Dr. Marieke Bruins of Wageningen University in the Netherlands is using plant-based proteins upcycled from agricultural waste streams to make super sustainable meat alternatives.
- 3D printed cultured meat. Dr. Sara Oliveira of INL in Portugal is working on a bioprinted model for cultured meat design. Called M3atD, the model will help her team explore how 3D printing can help accelerate cell-based meat production.
You can see the full list of grantees from 2020 and 2019 here, if you’re interested. But overall, it seems that the most recent crop of grantees are trying to improve four key areas for plant- and cell-based meat: cost, taste, texture, and scaling. As consumers continue to hunger for plant-based meat, and cell-based meat keeps trekking towards the market, these improvements will be necessary to keep flexitarians satisfied, attract new diners, and reduce the environmental footprint of alt-proteins.
Admittedly, alternative meat is probably not the issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now. But in a time when your newsfeed is full of articles about pandemics, social distancing and scary outlooks, it’s nice to be reminded that positive progress is still going on to help the planet, and help us eat better too.