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Growing Kent & Medway to lead plant-based protein research in new Bezos Centre

Growing Kent & Medway to lead plant-based protein research in new Bezos Centre

A new $30m Sustainable Protein Centre at Imperial College has been announced by the Bezos Earth Fund, with Growing Kent & Medway appointed to lead the plant-based protein crop research.

The new Centre will be based at Imperial College London and will focus on three main areas of alternative protein production: cultured meat, precision fermentation, and plant-based protein.

Growing Kent & Medway’s key research partners, NIAB, University of Kent and University of Greenwich will be involved in the project. They will bring their expertise in legume crops, production agronomy, fermentation technology and advanced protein processing capability to the Centre.

The involvement of the Growing Kent & Medway cluster will help connect the Sustainable Protein Centre with industry and build on their recently delivered UKRI Roadmap report: ‘Alternative Proteins: Identifying UK priorities.

Dr Nikki Harrison, Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “Our Alternative Protein Roadmap report highlighted the need for industry and academia to collaborate to address the key challenges and opportunities in sustainably growing the plant-based food sector.

“To increase the UK’s domestic supply of plant-based food crops, we need to invest in research to advance our knowledge of these ‘new’ crops. We also need to review the whole supply chain to ensure we have the right equipment and infrastructure to enable the industry to grow. Our involvement in this new Centre will mean we can continue to build partnerships to develop the plant-based food sector.”

Dr Phil Howell, project lead at NIAB, said: “NIAB has a unique presence all along the crop development pipeline, beginning with crop transformation, genetics, pathology and pre-breeding research, following right through to understanding agronomy and farming systems. We work closely with breeders, farmers and other stakeholders to ensure new crop varieties are grown sustainably and profitably.”

The Sustainable Protein Centre is one of multiple Earth Fund Centres working together with other institutions and industry partners in a $100 million commitment to develop sustainable protein alternatives and expand consumer choice, as part of an overall $1 billion commitment to food transformation.

Dr Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Earth Fund said: “The Bezos Earth Fund is proud to support our second sustainable protein centre. By 2050, the world population will be over 10 billion, so now is the time to rethink the way we produce and consume food. This work will help ensure that our future includes more protein options – and that they taste great, are nutritious and come at low cost.”

The Centre’s hub will be based at Imperial College, London, with three spokes in the UK and three abroad, with more than 65 international partners spanning cutting-edge research and innovation to commercialisation of new products.

The UK spokes are grouped under members of the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub at UCL and Aberystwyth University, the Food Centre at Reading University, and Growing Kent & Medway.

Alternative Proteins


Alternative Proteins