3f Bio Wins Start Up Challenge at Hi Europe


30 Nov 2016 --- 3f bio, a technology spin-out company from the University of Strathclyde (UoS) has scooped first prize in the Start-Up Innovation Challenge hosted at Health Ingredients (Hi) Europe for its vision to address global needs for sustainable proteins. A handful of start-ups were given the chance to pitch their latest innovations live at Health Ingredients (Hi) Europe in Frankfurt this week in front of a panel of judges. 

3f bio is developing patented zero-waste technology for large scale integrated production of food (mycoprotein), fuel (bioethanol) and feed (DDGS animal feed). Mycoprotein is the protein source in Quorn, the global market leader in the meat-free sector.

A major barrier to widespread consumer uptake of meat-free alternatives is price and this technology will revolutionize the production economics of mycoprotein through integrated production within existing large-scale biorefineries currently producing bioethanol and high protein livestock feed (DDGS). The transformation is achieved by lower cost feedstocks and reduced energy costs from the zero-waste process. 

3f bio aims to halve the current production cost of mycoprotein, making it significantly cheaper than all competitive meat or meat alternative protein sources with exceptional sustainability credentials and creating a genuine solution for growing populations in global markets.

Quorn was originally developed by RHM and ICI in the seventies and prevailed in the search for a high-quality meat alternative due mainly to its taste and texture. To date mycoprotein has solely been commercialized under the TM Quorn, due to a combined barrier to entry of high capital costs, and a patent which expired in 2010.

The standard mycoprotein fermentation process uses a glucose syrup feedstock, and produces excess sugar, waste protein and effluent. In 3f bio’s integrated process within a biorefinery, the lower cost feedstock (carbohydrate, such as cereals or grains), reduced energy usage and the zero-waste process transform the economics producing a high-quality protein with an exceptional sustainability profile at half the current cost.

3f bio is the first industrial user of the Rapid Bio facility in the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) and 3f’s technology and commercial development plans are closely aligned with the strategy of IBioIC and the circular economy in achieving Scotland’s National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology.

The technology is scalable and replicable within biorefinery operations, and with more than 300 biorefineries in Europe and US alone this allows for global replicability and future access to emerging markets. The benefits of integrated production are also applicable and scalable to other high value aerobic fermentation products; and 3f bio/ UoS have a current feasibility program developing integrated zero-waste production of additional fermentation products.

Presenting 3f bio’s innovation to the panel, was 3f bio CEO, Jim Laird.

“Nobody in this conference will be blind to the fact that the proteins needs of 10 million people will not be met by conventional agriculture and therefore the role of alternative proteins is to increase sources. 3f bio is developing novel technology which halves the cost of mycoprotein, the main ingredient in the brand Quorn,” he said.

“3 fbio is moving to the pilot stage validation with the aim of getting to industrial scale by 2020. Protein has become very fashionable but the cow is not a very efficient way of making protein and 3f bio’s approach is to make protein using innovative technology with solutions that are more efficient than the cow.”

He explains how the company wants to make this ‘relevant to large populations’, how 3f’s innovative approach for zero waste integrated fermentation provides a strong solution to the challenge of sustainably meeting the protein requirements for a growing global population and how the large global corporates are interested in this market space.

According to the presentation, one 3f bio fermentation unit at full utilization will produce 50,000 tons of protein, the protein equivalent of c.250,000 cows.

The global market for animal protein is worth US$850 billion market and the meat substitutes markets is growing rapidly and is forecast to be worth US$10 billion by 2030. The meat-free protein market is also of increasing interest to investors with Marlow Foods (QuornTM) being sold for £550m (US$686 million) in 2015; Gardein for US$154m in 2014; and with strong interest from companies such as Google in meat alternative brands such as BeyondMeat and the Impossible Burger.

The first edition of the Start-Up Innovation Challenge, aimed at promoting and unveiling innovative projects on ingredients, was launched by Agroparc, a French Pole of excellence in Food Intelligence, UBM, one of the world's leading business-to-business (B2B) events organizers, Naturex, the world leader in specialty plant-based natural ingredients, Presans, a leading Open Innovation service with a network of five million experts.                                                        

As winner 3f bio will be awarded a support package provided by Agroparc to secure its kick off phase and a communication package, provided by UBM, ensuring high visibility on a European scale. UBM will grant €5,000 value prize.                                  

GreenFood50 - which develops, produces and sells quinoa ingredients for applications in bakery products, salads, pastas, sauces, beverages, sports nutrition, healthy bars, snacks, vegetarian and gluten free products - was also awarded during the Start-Up Innovation Challenge.                                                                                                           



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