ICL and Protera Biosciences develop plant-based solutions using AI

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A leading global specialty minerals company announced ICL Food Specialties has joined forces with Protera Biosciences, an AI-driven foodTech start-up and designer of novel proteins, which are used to develop sustainable, highly functional protein-based ingredients for food manufacturers. The partnership follows ICL’s 2021 investment in Protera via ICL Planet Startup Hub, which is the vehicle ICL uses to invest in and collaborate with innovative companies in foodTech and agriTech on a global basis.

Through this partnership, ICL and Protera will develop and commercialise sustainable protein-based ingredients using precision fermentation. These clean-label ingredients will address current market demands and offer a replacement for chemical additives or less appealing ingredients. They will also improve the sensory properties in plant-based food applications, while positively impacting the world’s food security challenges.

Protera is creating impact through madi, a deep-learning platform, which can predict and match the structure and functionality of vegetable proteins. It designs proteins from a database of more than 1.5 billion edible protein sequences and applies precise fermentation parameters for producing them. The results address consumer demand for a short list of simple ingredients on food labels.

The new platform also enables the discovery of untapped plant-based proteins with high performance. These new ingredients can replace texturisers, stabilisers, preservatives and more, all based on plant proteins. The streamlining of plant protein development and production makes replacement of animal proteins much easier, thereby helping to further reduce pollutants such as methane and carbon dioxide.

“Thanks to this collaboration, we can offer novel ingredients via breakthrough technology currently not available in the market,” Hadar Sutovsky, ICL vice president of External Innovation and general manager of ICL Planet, said. “Once these functional ingredients are launched, food manufacturers will be able to speed up development of clean-label and sustainable plant-based products.”

“We’ll soon be able to provide global market access to these ingredients for key food producers, in a sustainable manner,” Rado Sporka, vice president of the Food Specialties Commercial Business for ICL, said. “This will further diversify and strengthen ICL’s engagement and offerings in the alternative proteins space and accelerate impactful solutions for global environmental challenges.”

“We are excited about this collaboration with ICL Food Specialties to bring new proteins to market,” Leonardo Alvarez, founder and CEO of Protera, said. “Combining the forces of our two companies will dramatically accelerate our vision of using biology to create protein-based ingredients. We already are validating functional targets in the lab, with unprecedented speed and accuracy.”

The research teams for the two companies are actively working on the development of these innovative protein-based ingredients and, through this partnership, will be able to scale up production once the ingredients are ready for commercialisation.