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Bezos creates food protein R&D network

The initiative aims to create fermentation processes for sustainable, low-cost protein

by Alex Scott
July 3, 2024


Solar Foods pilot for making protein.
Credit: Solar Foods
Bezos’s sustainable protein network is likely to build on fermentation processes like that of Solar Foods, shown above, which makes protein from green hydrogen and CO2.

Imperial College London has opened an R&D center, the Bezos Centre for Sustainable Protein, that will use biotechnology to develop fermentation processes for making alternative food proteins. The center will receive $30 million over 5 years from Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, via the Bezos Earth Fund.

The center will be part of a network of open-access R&D labs for alternative proteins established by the billionaire as part of a $100 million commitment to alternative proteins and an overall $1 billion commitment to transform food production.

The protein initiative is designed to bring together academia and industry to research, create, and commercialize new technologies; to train the emerging industry’s workforce; and to gauge consumers’ protein preferences.

Seven of Imperial College’s academic departments will work with the center on fermentation, meat cultivation, bioprocessing and automation, nutrition, and artificial intelligence and machine learning. Its center will collaborate with more than 65 academic and commercial partners in the UK and abroad, including the Bezos Center for Sustainable Protein at North Carolina State University. The US school opened its center at the end of May with $30 million in funding. It is partnering with a companies that include Believer Meats, Cargill, and Givaudan.

“This work will help ensure that our future includes more protein options—and that they taste great, are nutritious and come at low cost,” Andrew Steer, CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, says in a press release. “By 2050 the world population will be over 10 billion, so now is the time to rethink the way we produce and consume food.”

Researchers at the Bezos protein R&D centers are likely to follow the work of a swath of start-ups that have been developing fermentation processes to make proteins. The firms claim that their processes can disassociate food production from land or sea and realize substantial environmental benefits.

One of these firms, Calysta, produces its FeedKind protein brand by turning methane-consuming microorganisms into fish or animal feed. Other start-ups, such as Finland’s Solar Foods, are working on fermentation processes involving single-cell soil bacteria that consume hydrogen.



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