‘The material is affordable, animal-free, scalable and edible’

Danish businesses and academics – including TU Delft, DSM, VIVOLTA, and cellular meat start-up Meatable – have been awarded an Open Technology Program grant of €1 million by the NWO (the Dutch Research Council) for research into the use of protein- based biopolymers for potential food and healthcare applications, including soft tissue repair.

The grant will fund a five-year research project into the scalability and cost-effectiveness of producing elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) and non-animal-derived collagen. The project will be led by Professor Dr. Gijsje Koenderink, professor at TU Delft’s Bionanoscience Department, and Professor Dr. Jean-Marc Daran, who specializes in industrial microbiology at the university.

The project aims to leverage the respective strengths of the participants. Announcing the initiative, the consortium said DSM’s ‘world-class biotechnology competence’ will be ‘critical in producing synthetic biopolymer prototypes’ to be studied by the other consortium members. DSM Biomedical, part of DSM and the world’s biomaterials expert, will leverage their expertise to assess the non-animal derived prototypes and post-process scaffolds for soft tissue repair applications. Contract manufacturer and product developer VIVOLTA will assess the recombinant materials for electrospinning feasibility in pure and composite materials.

The research could have significant implications for the cultured meat sector as it works to build commercial scale, according to food tech pioneer Meatable.

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