BioInnovation Institute (BII), an international non-profit foundation incubating and accelerating world-class life science research, today announces that it has accepted a new project into its Bio Studio program to develop an engineered mycoprotein meat alternative. Called ”Yummowia”, the project is a spin-out from the Technical University of Denmark and will be led by Professor Irina Borodina.
The project takes its name from Yarrowia, the yeast chosen by Prof. Borodina as a meat alternative because of its combination of biological properties and its ease of engineering.
BII’s Bio Studio program supports world-leading entrepreneurial Principal Investigators (PIs) who want to translate their innovative research ideas into new solutions to benefit planetary and human health.
BII will support the project with an in-kind grant of up to 1M EUR per year for a project period of up to three years and with business development expertise, intellectual property support, investor network access, and wet lab and office infrastructure.
Current meat production is causing a myriad of problems. The immense environmental, ethical, and health-related implications of meat consumption mean we need alternatives that meet consumers’ high standards (delicious, nutritious, and affordable). Today, they cost more, taste worse, or both. The current market for meats is estimated at 1.4 trillion USD, plant-based meats represent less than 0.5% of this.
Thus, this project aims to create an initial minimum viable product (MVP) of a holistically engineered mycoprotein meat alternative. The MVP will demonstrate the potential of this platform technology and serve as the basis for fundraising and the establishment of the spin-out company at the end of the project. The concept developed here will grow into a globally accessible, delicious, nutritious, and affordable food source that can be produced without negatively impacting the planet or the people and animals who live on it.
Principal Investigator Professor Irina Borodina of the Technical University of Denmark specializes in yeast metabolic engineering. Prof. Borodina co-founded BioPhero, the bio-based agricultural pheromones company. After founding BioPhero Prof. Borodina served as CEO and CSO before the company was acquired by FNC corporation in 2022 for 200 million USD.
Professor Irina Borodina, Principal Investigator at the Technical University of Denmark said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with BII to translate our research into a product. Meat alternatives on the market are highly processed, inherently costly, and lack complex flavor. Our vision is to create food products, tailor-made on the molecular level to provide the desired flavor, texture, and nutrition people are accustomed to, but also to support several of the UN sustainable development goals, positively impacting the planet.”
Louise Clemmensen, Director of Science Strategy at BII, commented: “We are pleased to add the Yummowia project to our Bio Studio portfolio, drawing on Irina’s successful track record and expertise as an innovative and entrepreneurial Principal Investigator. Synthetic biology holds the potential to exploit and develop new resources to produce sustainable, affordable, and nutritious foods and tap into a global meat alternative market that is set for exceptional growth in the coming years.”
Tue Rasmussen, Entrepreneur-in-Residence heading up the Yummowia project, added: “My personal focus is impact, and Yummowia is addressing a space with significant societal and environmental effects, and there is also an untapped commercial potential. Our food systems account for more than 30% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and with a continuously growing population combined with a staggering rise in the number of people living with food insecurity, we must rethink how we can produce food in a more planet-friendly way.”
The Bio Studio program is a recently established BII program with the ambition to build and run a leading life science company creation facility in Europe. This latest project joins collaborations announced last year with the Danish Cancer Society, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Imperial College London, and Institute of Protein Design at University of Washington.
Since its inception in 2018, BII has supported 80 start-ups and projects with EUR 65 million alongside the venture capital, industry and business expertise it provides to help them accelerate to the next level. In total, BII’s start-ups have raised over EUR 333 million in external funding from both local and international investors. Recent company successes include Adcendo, Stipe Therapeutics, Twelve Bio, Octarine Bio, and Cirqle Biomedical.