These locally produced enzymes, which are produced at a low cost, are used, for example, in bioethanol production or to increase the nutritional value of animal feed, while they also reduce the environmental impact.
Melt&Marble – fats for plant-based foods via yeast biotechnology
Baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is not only used for producing bread, wine, and beer. Bioengineered yeast has been used for the industrial production of bioethanol and pharmaceuticals such as insulin. Modern biotechnology employing microbial fermentation provides a big opportunity to shift to a bio-based sustainable production process.
Within this project researchers from the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology were able to specifically develop yeast cell factories to produce fatty acids. This technology provides a sustainable and easily scalable way of production compared to current production routes.
This research resulted in various high impact publications, patents, and the founding of the start-up company Melt&Marble (formely Biopetrolia AB). Initially, the company was a patent-holding company for the research group, financed by providing yeast engineering services. In 2021, Biopetrolia turned in to Melt&Marble and pivoted to focus on creating fats for plant-based foods.
In 2021 Melt&Marble have been awarded the new start-up award “Årets Impact Maker” ( Impact Maker of the Year) and has also been listed as one of “13 Startups with Gigacorn Potential” in an article by Sifted i.e. companies that have the potential to get rid of one gigatonne of CO₂ from the atmosphere per year.
Read more about Melt& Marble
Nutritious foods for young children in low income countries
Malnutrition is very common in young children in many low-income countries and the main reason is that the diet does not provide enough of energy, protein and micronutrients. Many diseases contribute to this condition, especially diarrhea caused by the fact that the food for young children is often contaminated with diarrhea bacteria. Although cereal porridges have a high nutritional and energy content, it is difficult for young children to eat enough amounts of a thick porridge to meet their nutritional needs.
Researchers at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, led by Ulf Svanberg, Professor Emeritus, have developed a technique where you add a small amount of germinated cereal flour, power flour, to a thick porridge that will turn into a liquid nutritious gruel within minutes – much easier to consume for a young child.
The power flour was found to have the same effect when preparing a lactic acid fermented cereal gruel, togwa, which also prevented the growth of diarrhoea bacteria and thus made the fermented gruel hygienically safe.
The technique was introduced and demonstrated at a large scale in nutrition programmes in Tanzania with support from WHO and UNICEF. An evaluation of the program showed that the number of malnourished children significantly decreased and that mortality among children also decreased.
Read more about the project:
Multi-Feed operation of lignocellulose fermentation
One of the aims of the Multi-Feed project was to identify opportunities for development of the national research facility Biorefinery Demo Plant (BDP) in order to optimise and develop the process for the conversion of lignocellulose, biomass from plants and trees, to fuels, chemicals and materials.
The project resulted in record-level final ethanol concentration, but also to knowledge transfer from academia to industry, investments in equipment for handling lignocellulose slurries at very high dry matter contents, additional research grants and several scientific publications.
The project was run by researchers at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology in collaboration with RISE under the leadership of Carl Johan Franzén.
Hidden in grains
Processed crops, such as polished rice and refined flour, contain lower levels of micronutrients than unrefined grains. One third of the world's population suffers from a lack of micronutrients such as iron and zinc. In unrefined grains the minerals have low availability for uptake in the human gut due to the presence of inhibiting factors (phytate).
Based on research, led by Professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, the company Hidden in Grains has developed a hydrothermal process technology that increases the availability of minerals from whole grains and legumes. Through this, Hidden in Grains has been able to meet the demands of the market: products that taste good, are healthy and easy to use and that are available at a reasonable price.
The company works internationally as well as nationally to mobilise farmers and small-scale processors to increase the number of available products and to spread knowledge among consumers in order to increase the demand for tasty and nutritious whole grain products.