Italian firm partners with Argentinian/American entity to boost ‘precision fermentation’ based on carrot cell line

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - metamorworks
©Getty Images - metamorworks

Related tags M&A Fermentation plant-based Protein vegan plant-based meat Sports nutrition Dairy alternatives

Ergo Bioscience plans to scale up its cell culture fermentation process with the help of Italian specialist firm Aethera Biotech in a new deal announced today.

Ergo Bioscience will use Aethera’s help to scale up its scale up its production in what is billed as “the first industrial production of plant proteins from plant cell cultures for the production of plant foods that promise to resemble their respective animal foods in color and flavor.”

Ergo, which is billed as a US-based company in the deal announcement but which calls itself ‘an Argentinian biotech startup’ on its own website, reportedly uses a cell culture based on carrot cells to produce its ingredients.

The first targets are a plant-based version myoglobin, which is used in the production of plant based products that resemble meat, and plant-based casein.  The latter could revolutionize the production of plant-based sports nutrition formulations, as well as play an important role in the ‘plant-based dairy’ movement.

Company made Rabobank startup list

Ergo’s technology caught the eye of Rabobank before Aethera came calling.  The company was named inOctober as one of 45 startups to watch​ in the annual Foodbytes! by Rabobank listing.   The program provides mentoring and other support.

Aethera says its will use its so-called CROP biotechnology platform, which has a stated capacity of 120 tons a year, to take Ergo’s approach to commercial scale.

"Every production at Aethera Biotech starts with a very thorough research and development, therefore taking on new challenges is part of the company's DNA, and the challenge that starts with this agreement makes us especially excited. When we can put our technology and expertise at the service of other innovative companies, the result is enriching for all parties. We are then pleased to announce this collaboration," ​said Daniele Baghi, CEO of Aethera Biotech. 

“We are very excited to reach this important milestone with Aethera Biotech,” ​added Alejandro Barbarini, CEO of Ergo. “Our technology overcomes several limitations of traditional precision fermentation processes, particularly when producing complex proteins compared the animal ones. Our innovation has the potential to be a game-changer for the industry for its impact on the nutritional and organoleptic quality of our customers’ products.”

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