In the transition to a more sustainable food system, protein produced by microbial fermentation shows considerable potential. It is expected to become a substantial part of our food and feed system. However, development, industrial implementation, as well as processing into food, feed and fine chemicals, in many cases still needs to go through a significant development path. With a grant of 775000 euro, VLAIO is supporting the COOCK+ ‘Ferm Protein’ project that will bring together and disseminate knowledge, to accelerate implementation of fermentation-based protein production and processing. The project starts the 1st of December 2023 with a duration of 3 years. Founders of The ProteInn Club – UGent, ILVO, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, and CAPTURE – will execute the project. The ProteInn Club also has a strong industrial base with the 30 member companies in the Industrial Sounding Board.

Picture: Spraydrying microbial biomass at Food Pilot, ILVO

Guided by a guidance committee of companies and cutting-edge spearhead clusters, this project will focus on targeted knowledge generation, accessible knowledge dissemination, and interactive and inspiring interaction. For instance, a knowledge matrix will be developed of the state-of-the-art on processing carbon- and nitrogen-rich feedstocks and by-products into microbial protein. Here, the focus is on the potential of feedstocks. In addition, the possibilities of optimisation of micro-organisms (e.g. via genetic modification) will be mapped, including regulatory implications. Furthermore, the process of scaling up fermentation processes will be highlighted, by identifying obstacles and providing solutions. Finally, business cases will be developed including economic calculations.

These actions contribute to the mission of The ProteInn Club, to set up innovative, cross-sectoral, sustainable and economically profitable value chains. Thus, ‘Ferm Eiwit’ project will contribute to strengthening Flanders’ leading international position on fermentation-based proteins. It represents an important building block in the protein shift towards more sustainable proteins.

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