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New GMOs on the horizon: say ‘cheese’!

To meet the challenges of climate change and global food demand, more VCs are investing in AgTech companies. A lot of these companies are using genetic modification to create better plant-based alternatives for animal products. One US company, Nobell Foods, is even developing casein-producing soybean plants that can be used to make plant-based cheese that tastes and melts like the real deal.
In the global search for more sustainable materials, one substance has recently begun attracting a lot of attention: mycelium, the white roots of fungi. VUB researcher Elise Elsacker has been studying the unique properties of mycelium and its potential for lowering environmental impact in the building and manufacturing industries, helping us move towards a circular economy.
Prof. Kevin Verstrepen, of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology, has received a prestigious ERC Proof of Concept grant for the SUPERYEAST project. The goal is to develop industrial yeast strains that are easier to grow, which would increase the efficiency and sustainability of processes in a whole array of sectors. Notably, the research could enhance the production of fermented beverages like beer and wine, foods including bread and chocolate, and fuels like bioethanol.
The University of Antwerp spin-off D-CRBN is helping carbon-emitting industries transform greenhouse gases into useful products. Using plasma technology, the company can split harmful CO2 molecules into their basic building blocks, which can then be converted into biofuels and polymers. The company aims to contribute to the circular economy needed if the European Green Deal is to be a success.
Ghent, Belgium, 8 April 2021 - Today V-Bio Ventures announces its investment in Ghent-based company Protealis, a new spin-off from VIB and ILVO. Inspired by the mission to grow more sustainable plant-based proteins locally, Protealis aims to harvest the full potential of legume crops. With innovative breeding technologies and proprietary seed coatings, Protealis will create new opportunities for European farmers to help overcome Europe’s protein deficit. The initial focus is to develop high-yielding, high-protein soybean varieties. V-Bio Ventures led the EUR 6 million seed financing round joined by Agri Investment Fund (AIF), Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV), Estari Group, Globachem Group, Gemma Frisius Fund and VIB. The capital will support the company’s plans to further develop its proprietary technology, expand its crop portfolio and bring the first soy varieties adapted to local needs to the market by 2022.
Good science takes many hands. In the case of a new citizen science project by VIB, UGent, ILVO, KU Leuven, the hands they were after were green-thumbed individuals in Flanders. The institutes have recruited gardeners to plant soybeans, in the hope of identifying microbial species in soils across Flanders that promote the growth of the vital crop. The ultimate aim is to increase sustainable soy production in the region.
The Walloon region is taking major steps towards becoming an important player in the business of plant-based proteins. In the next few months, two of the region’s public investment funds, Sogepa and SRIW, plan to establish a start-up company in this booming field. In the long term, the goal is to create an entire ecosystem around the use of plant proteins as meat replacements, benefiting the economy, health and sustainability of the whole area.
In mid-2021, research institute VIB will open its brand-new agbiotech incubator. The new complex will provide entrepreneurs with access to high-tech facilities to work on sustainable agricultural innovations, like solutions to make plants more resistant to drought. The incubator will be housed in the former CropDesign site of multinational BASF in Nevele, Belgium.
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To meet the challenges of climate change and global food demand, more VCs are investing in AgTech companies. A lot of these companies are using genetic modification to create better plant-based alternatives for animal products. One US company, Nobell Foods, is even developing casein-producing soybean plants that can be used to make plant-based cheese that tastes and melts like the real deal.
In the global search for more sustainable materials, one substance has recently begun attracting a lot of attention: mycelium, the white roots of fungi. VUB researcher Elise Elsacker has been studying the unique properties of mycelium and its potential for lowering environmental impact in the building and manufacturing industries, helping us move towards a circular economy.
Prof. Kevin Verstrepen, of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology, has received a prestigious ERC Proof of Concept grant for the SUPERYEAST project. The goal is to develop industrial yeast strains that are easier to grow, which would increase the efficiency and sustainability of processes in a whole array of sectors. Notably, the research could enhance the production of fermented beverages like beer and wine, foods including bread and chocolate, and fuels like bioethanol.
The University of Antwerp spin-off D-CRBN is helping carbon-emitting industries transform greenhouse gases into useful products. Using plasma technology, the company can split harmful CO2 molecules into their basic building blocks, which can then be converted into biofuels and polymers. The company aims to contribute to the circular economy needed if the European Green Deal is to be a success.
Ghent, Belgium, 8 April 2021 - Today V-Bio Ventures announces its investment in Ghent-based company Protealis, a new spin-off from VIB and ILVO. Inspired by the mission to grow more sustainable plant-based proteins locally, Protealis aims to harvest the full potential of legume crops. With innovative breeding technologies and proprietary seed coatings, Protealis will create new opportunities for European farmers to help overcome Europe’s protein deficit. The initial focus is to develop high-yielding, high-protein soybean varieties. V-Bio Ventures led the EUR 6 million seed financing round joined by Agri Investment Fund (AIF), Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV), Estari Group, Globachem Group, Gemma Frisius Fund and VIB. The capital will support the company’s plans to further develop its proprietary technology, expand its crop portfolio and bring the first soy varieties adapted to local needs to the market by 2022.
Good science takes many hands. In the case of a new citizen science project by VIB, UGent, ILVO, KU Leuven, the hands they were after were green-thumbed individuals in Flanders. The institutes have recruited gardeners to plant soybeans, in the hope of identifying microbial species in soils across Flanders that promote the growth of the vital crop. The ultimate aim is to increase sustainable soy production in the region.
The Walloon region is taking major steps towards becoming an important player in the business of plant-based proteins. In the next few months, two of the region’s public investment funds, Sogepa and SRIW, plan to establish a start-up company in this booming field. In the long term, the goal is to create an entire ecosystem around the use of plant proteins as meat replacements, benefiting the economy, health and sustainability of the whole area.
In mid-2021, research institute VIB will open its brand-new agbiotech incubator. The new complex will provide entrepreneurs with access to high-tech facilities to work on sustainable agricultural innovations, like solutions to make plants more resistant to drought. The incubator will be housed in the former CropDesign site of multinational BASF in Nevele, Belgium.