- Food tech powerhouse Motif FoodWorks partnered with Norwegian biotech specialist Vectron Biosolutions to use precision fermentation to develop next-generation animal-free proteins. Motif initiated this partnership two years ago, and the company said they are choosing to make it public now.
- Through this agreement, the companies are working on technologies to improve the taste and texture of dairy alternatives and the nutrition levels of plant-based foods.
- This is the latest partnership between Motif and specialized tech companies. Motif, which has the mission of using technology to improve plant-based food, has reached out to other non-food entities in the past to tap into their expertise.
Until now, Vectron has done most of its work in the pharmaceutical sector. In a statement about the partnership, CEO Trond Erik Vee Aune said getting into food with Motif “has been a welcome – and tasty – change."
But Vectron’s expertise is exactly what cutting-edge food tech companies are looking for. Vectron is known for using its proprietary technologies, including bioinformatics tools, to enhance and improve precision fermentation production processes. The methods Vectron uses help the company have high success rates and larger yields, the company says, which can result in lower prices of the resulting proteins and ingredients.
Precision fermentation is a platform where an organism like yeast is modified so that it produces a specific protein when fermented. It’s been used in both food and pharmaceuticals for decades, though in food its use was limited to creating animal-free rennet for cheese.
Today, food startups use precision fermentation to create animal-free versions of proteins commonly found in dairy and eggs, as well as heme proteins found in meat, plant-based oils and fats, and rare natural sweeteners. The technology is just getting off the ground in CPG products.
Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein is appearing in products made by both new players and Big Food; The Every Company’s egg proteins are boosting the essential nutrient in smoothies and alcohol; and Impossible Foods uses precision fermentation to produce large quantities of its plant-based heme ingredient soy leghemoglobin for its burgers.
But considering the number of companies focusing on precision fermentation, as well as the partnerships cropping up to help startups improve their processes and scale, it is likely to become much more of a force in the near future.
Since Motif’s business is bringing technologies of all sorts to the plant-based segment, seeking out a company that has performed well in the pharmaceutical space could help in its product development. The basic technologies and processes behind precision fermentation for both food and pharmaceuticals are the same.
Motif has looked outside of food to find other entities that know about science that could apply to food. Motif has partnered with the University of Queensland in Australia to study the physics behind the texture of food as it’s consumed. They’ve also teamed with the University of Guelph in Canada and the founder of tech company Coasun, Alejandro Marangoni, for access to technology that can create more authentic fat textures in plant-based meat and improve the texture of plant-based cheese.
In May, Motif entered into a tech partnership and invested in NemaLife, a company that uses an array of technologies to screen protein performance. Motif said this approach can help it more quickly discover which proteins will perform best in different food tech functions.