Photo of Ingrid Undeland, Floran David and Silvia Hüttner
​I​ngrid Undeland, Florian David and Silvia Hüttner.​​​​​
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Sustainable production of food and fatty acids on IVA's 100 List

Three research projects on s​ustainable production of food and fatty acids, connected to the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, are listed on IVA's 100 List. This year the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA, focuses on sustainability projects with business potential.
IVA’s 100 List aims to strengthen and increase collaboration between researchers and companies to solve societal challenges. The focus area 2020 is sustainability and the selected research projects, all connected to Swedish universities, have commercial potential.   
The Chalmers researchers Ingrid Undeland, Silvia Hüttner and Florian David, at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, are involved in three of the projects on the 100 List.  

Maximised use of marine resources for food

Ingrid Undeland, professor of Food and Nutrition Science, is together with her research group recognised for several projects targeting “Maximised use of marine resources for food – a step towards blue circular economy”. 

“Our research aims at converting more of the landed seafood raw materials into food, and/or specific bioactive ingredients, rather than to low value end uses such as mink feed or fish meal. A more ethical use of our marine resources will have a positive impact on the companies’ sustainability profiles. If we can contribute to the development of new “blue bio refineries” along the coastline, we will also contribute to job opportunities and a seafood industry which is less sensitive to the seasonality,” says Ingrid Undeland. 

Approximately 50 per cent of the seafood raw materials that are landed in Sweden ends up as by-products, which currently go to animal feed, or in the worst case, are dumped, even though they are rich in e.g. proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. In several research projects, Ingrid’s group develops techniques to recover proteins and omega-3 fatty acids from more or less complex side-streams from the seafood industry. At the same time, methods for maximizing the nutritional value and technical functionality of these products are developed. Thus, the research contributes to the ongoing protein shift and meets the high demand for marine omega-3-fatty acids. In addition, it contributes to an overall more sustainable use of marine resources. 

“I am delighted that this area of research is highlighted on IVA.s 100 List, not least considering we are located on the Swedish west coast where we have a long tradition of fisheries and seafood production. I hope that, with our projects, we can broaden people’s view on seafood in general, and that we can contribute with new “blue” proteins to the protein shift. I would like to stress that being on the IVA 100 List is due to the hard work and contribution of all members of the Marine research group working on different solutions to increase the value of side streams from the seafood industry,” says Ingrid Undeland. 

Sustainable production of fatty acids through yeast biotechnology ​

Florian David, Assistant Professor at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, is working on the project “Sustainable production of fatty acids through yeast biotechnology” .

The engineering of microbial cell factories is one of the key technologies enabling a circular bioeconomy. The project, started in Professor Jens Nielsen’s group, is focused on the engineering of yeast cell factories for the sustainable and environmentally friendly production of fatty acids and derived products. These can be used in a variety of applications including nutritional supplements, drugs, chemical building blocks and biofuels. The research group develops and uses and use new synthetic biology tools to identify high performing cell factories, thereby significantly speeding up the development cycle to come closer to cost-competitive production. Thanks to a lot of work involving a number of scientists, this research has resulted in high impact publications, patents and founding of the start-up company Biopetrolia AB.

”Biotechnology, and the engineering of microbial cell factories, are key enabling technologies to create a circular bioeconomy. Renewable sugar resources can be used by microorganisms to create valuable products, allowing the shift from a petrol-based to a biobased industry. This technology is more environmentally friendly, easily scalable and holds great opportunities for innovative processes and products to come. The 100 list is a great opportunity for us to network with industry and academia, leverage on synergies and translate research into innovation,” says Florian David. 

Florian David is one of the researchers invited to the R2B Summit, Research to business, arranged by IVA in Stockholm 18 March 2020, where selected researchers and representatives from the industry will meet to discover opportunities for future collaborations. 

Development of sustainably produced, edible fungal protein​

Silvia Hüttner is a researcher at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the biotech company Mycorena, which is responsible for the project “Development of sustainably produced, edible fungal protein”. 

“We are very happy to be in IVA’s 100 list! It is great to be selected among other amazing and important research projects, and for us as a small start-up it's also incredibly important to get more visibility and spread the word about the exciting things we are doing,” says Silvia Hüttner.

Mycorena, one of GU Ventures’ portfolio companies, is developing a new sustainable vegan protein source, using filamentous fungi. The protein, Promyc, is made in a fermentation process, similar to beer brewing, and results in a nutritious and versatile product that can be used in anything from burgers and sausages to shakes and baked goods. The production is highly efficient and uses much less land, water and energy than more traditional protein sources, animal- and plant-based.

“The current food production systems clearly need to change to be more sustainable. It is an enormous challenge to feed a growing world population without destroying the planet even more. Our fungi protein can be produced locally, in a very resource efficient way, and in a very short amount of time. At the same time, it's nutritionally complete and tastes great. We believe it's the way forward and we do our best to bring this innovation to consumers”, says Silvia Hüttner. 

Text: Susanne Nilsson Lindh
Photo: Martina Butorac

Read more about IVA's project Research2Business

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Published: Wed 04 Mar 2020.