The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced plans for a new £15 million sustainable protein research hub, the largest single public investment the UK has made in plant-based and cultivated meat to date.
The funding through the Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK, both part of the UKRI, looks to establish and lead an Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) to support research and innovation into more sustainable alternative proteins.
The funding is expected to enable businesses and academic researchers to work on projects including scaling up production and reducing the cost of plant-based foods, cultivated meat and fermentation.
The UKRI said the IKC, which will run for five years between 2024 and 2029, will “ensure the UK capitalises on its cutting-edge research and innovation potential” in these sectors. The IKC model will pay particular attention to commercialising high-quality innovations, while furthering world-leading research.
The nonprofit Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), which this week called for more public funding in sustainable proteins, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s great to see the UK investing in essential research that will make sustainable options delicious, affordable and accessible – and position the country as a global leader in this burgeoning field,” Dr Stella Child, research and grants manager at the GFI Europe, said.
“This is exactly the kind of investment our recent report called for. To maximise the potential of this groundbreaking new research centre, the government must also step up policy efforts in other areas like regulation to develop a thriving sustainable protein sector.”
Earlier this year, the UKRI, the country’s main research funding agency, has announced a £12 million investment in a sustainable protein research centre led by the University of Bath.
The GFI Europe report has found that the UKRI has invested at least £43 million in sustainable protein R&D since 2012 – two-thirds of which has been since 2022.