Seed World

NIAB to Lead Crop Development in New Bezos Sustainable Protein Centre

Bezos Earth Fund has announced the establishment of a new $30 million Sustainable Protein Centre, based at Imperial College London.

This initiative will be one of several Earth Fund Centres collaborating with various institutions and industry partners in a $100 million commitment to develop sustainable protein alternatives and broaden consumer choice. This effort is part of a larger $1 billion commitment to food transformation. The Bezos Sustainable Protein Centre will concentrate on three primary areas of alternative protein production: cultured meat, precision fermentation, and plant-based protein.

NIAB is a partner in the new Centre. In a press release, it states that the NIAB has become the leader for the UK’s crop research community in plant transformation, gene editing, pre-breeding and pathology of cereal crops. NIAB will now use its expertise to build on these strengths to develop protein crops for this new, emerging sector.

 “NIAB is well-placed to deliver impactful research for the plant protein sector,” NIAB project lead Dr. Phil Howell said. “We have 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. NIAB works closely with breeders, farmers and other stakeholders to ensure new crop varieties are grown sustainably and profitably.

“We already have experience in faba bean and are now branching out into alternative legumes such as chickpea, lentil, soybean and lupin. We are used to working closely with industry, including through the NIAB-led Growing Kent and Medway consortium which recently delivered the UKRI Alternative Protein Roadmap,” adds Howell.

The Centre’s hub will be based at Imperial, 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 include members from the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub at UCL and Aberystwyth University, the Food Centre at Reading University, and the Growing Kent & Medway consortium with NIAB and the Universities of Kent and Greenwich. International spokes are hosted by the Technical University of Denmark (Biosustain), Tufts University (Centre for Cellular Agriculture), and the National University of Singapore.