Biotech firm opens alternative protein plant, targets 2024 commercial launch

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The pilot plant was opened at an event in November 2023. Credit: MicroHarvest
The pilot plant was opened at an event in November 2023. Credit: MicroHarvest

Related tags alternative protein

Industrial biotechnology firm MicroHarvest has opened a pilot plant for the production of single-cell protein samples.

Located at MicroHarvest’s factory site in Lisbon, Portugal, the plant was officially launched at an event earlier this month (November 2023).

At the plant, the biotech firm will be able produce protein samples for customers, accelerating its journey towards commercialisation. Built over a six-month period, the facility includes a fully equipped laboratory and pilot plant, and can be used to hone the technology and run tests.

MicroHarvest’s biomass fermentation technology enables the sustainable production of protein ingredients containing over 60% raw protein within 24 hours. The firm believes that its approach reduces resource consumption when compared to conventional methods and offers highly competitive, scalable and consistent protein solutions for use in human food, pet food and feed.

Commercial launch planned for next year

Speaking after the launch, MicroHarvest chief executive Katelijne Bekers said that the firm was on track to launch its first product commercially in early 2024.

Within just six months of opening our Lisbon office, our team has doubled in size, and we've achieved an impressive feat by constructing the pilot plant in record time​,” Bekers added.

These milestones underscore our commitment to driving real impact by bringing commercially competitive, consistent, and sustainable ingredients to market fast​."

Chief operating officer Jonathan Roberz described the technology in development as being of “crucial importance”​ to the ecological footprint of the planet’s food systems.

The speed at which we accomplished this demonstrates that we have the right team and the right technology to make sustainable protein readily available at scale​,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Luísa Cruz, chief technology officer at MicroHarvest, added: "This pilot plant serves as tangible evidence of the scalability of our process​. With a lower investment when compared to alternative technologies, and within a mere 200 square meters, we can achieve a daily production of 25kg​."

In other news, Welsh alcohol-free craft brewer Drop Bear Beer Co is seeking £700k in funding to help grow its business.

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