Alternative protein research grants
Powered by donations from a small number of generous donors, our Research Grant Program funds open-access alternative protein research. Read on to learn about the projects we’re funding and find funding opportunities for your own research.
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Catalytic research, powered by donors
Protecting our environment, feeding the world, and revitalizing economies require a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. A strong open-access research environment and talent pipeline are essential to fostering good food innovation.
As a nonprofit, GFI is uniquely positioned to empower high-quality research that will build the scientific foundation of the alternative protein industries. Our philanthropy-driven research program answers fundamental questions that can spin off entire industries, inspiring additional research and creating new opportunities to feed the world.
All of GFI’s work is made possible thanks to generous donors. Philanthropic support is vital to our mission. To discuss how you can be part of this transformative work with your gift or grant, please contact email@example.com.
Research funding opportunities
GFI Research Grant Program
We release requests for proposals (RFPs) for open-access research that address the organoleptic properties, cost, or scale-up of alternative proteins. Each RFP identifies priorities for research and may include one or both of the following mechanisms:
- Field Catalyst Grants (up to 24 months and $250,000)
- Discovery Grants (up to 12 months and $100,000)
We anticipate the next RFP will be launched in the summer of 2023. Please review our frequently asked questions for more information about our Research Grant Program.
Research funding database
Explore our database of research funding opportunities screened for relevance to alternative proteins. This database is actively maintained to provide relevant funding opportunities for alternative protein researchers around the world.
Find your research passion
The ultimate success of the alternative protein industry depends on continued research and technological development. GFI identifies existing and future bottlenecks as well as promising solutions to the industry’s most pressing challenges. Explore these ideas, learn from GFI-funded research projects, and join the scientific community diversifying the global food system.
To learn more about each research project funded by GFI, explore the sections below. If you’re interested in who else is funding alternative protein research and where that work is happening, check out GFI’s research grants tracker.
Cultivated meat research grants
For cultivated meat to become an integral part of the global food supply, significant research still needs to be done so it can match — or beat — the taste and price of conventional meat. Whether it’s cell line development, cell culture media, scaffolding, or bioprocess design, GFI drives research by funding projects that address white space gaps across the entire cultivated meat technology sector.
We will continue to monitor the state of cultivated meat science and periodically reevaluate where best to focus future grant funding in order to strategically eliminate the technical barriers facing commercialization of cultivated meat.
Cell line development
Easy access to diverse cell lines from a range of animal species will enable more scientists to conduct high-impact cultivated meat research. We’re supporting the creation of these cell lines and we’ve partnered with Kerafast to help you get access to them for your own research.
The Frozen Farmyard repository
Learn about Dr. Gareth Sullivan’s work to develop a “frozen farmyard” cell line repository for cultivated meat.
Seafood cell lines
Learn about Dr. Kevan Main and Dr. Cathy Walsh’s work at Mote Marine Laboratory to develop cell lines and methodology for cultivated seafood.
Myosatellite lines from Atlantic salmon
Through the GFI grant program, the Kaplan lab is developing myosatellite lines for cultivated Atlantic salmon at Tufts University
Making muscle cells
Learn about Dr. Ori Bar-Nur’s research to convert bovine and porcine fibroblasts into proliferative myogenic progenitor cells at ETH Zurich.
Differentiation and cell lines for cultivated carp
Learn about Dr. Mukunda Goswami’s research to develop cell lines from carp and characterize their differentiation at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Cell culture media
Without further research and development, cell culture media is predicted to be a main cost driver of commercialized cultivated meat. It also presents an incredible opportunity for improved efficiency, reduced waste, and optimized cell growth.
Lowering the cost of growth factors
Learn about Dr. Peter Stogios’ research engineering improved and lower-cost growth factors for cultivated meat at University of Toronto.
Optimizing media for chicken cells
Learn about Dr. David Block’s work to perfect growth media for cultivated chicken at University of California, Davis.
Formulating media with macromolecular crowding
Learn about Dr. Connon and Dr. Gouveia’s work at Newcastle University, UK to formulate growth media for cultivated meat with macromolecular crowding.
Machine learning for fish growth media
Learn about Dr. Reza Ovissipour’s research using machine learning to optimize growth media for fish cells at Virginia Tech.
Reducing cell culture media cost
Learn about Dr. Burridge’s research to produce low-cost animal skeletal muscle cells at Northwestern University.
Low-cost differentiation medium for seafood culture
Learn about Dr. Rees’s research to develop low-cost differentiation media for cultivated seafood at Defined Bioscience.
To move beyond ground meat products, scaffolding materials will be essential for 3-D structure and nutrient perfusion. We’re supporting research to identify promising materials for cultivated meat scaffolds and create new ways to design three-dimensional meat structures.
Developing marbled cultivated beef
GFI is developing marbled cultivated beef with Dr. Amy Rowat at University of California, Los Angeles
Smart scaffolds for cultivated meat
Learn about Dr. Oded Shoseyov’s research to develop cost-effective “smart scaffolds” for the cultivated meat industry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Cellular building blocks
Learn about Dr. Marcelle Machluf’s work designing cellular building blocks for cultivated meat with at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
3-D printing bioinks
Learn about GFI grantee Dr. Sara Oliveira’s work 3D bioprinting scaffolds for cultivated meat the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal.
GFI is building plant-based tissue scaffolds for cultivated meat with Dr. Masatoshi Suzuki at University of Wisconsin, Madison
Tissue-engineering whole-cut chicken
Learn about Dr. Vivian Feddern’s research to tissue-engineer whole-cut chicken at Embrapa.
Hybrid scaffolds for cultivated chicken
Learn about Dr. Aline Bruna da Silva’s research on hybrid scaffolds to create 3D cultivated chicken at the Federal Center for Technological Education of Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG).
Diversifying cultivated meats
Learn about Dr. Kelly Schultz’s research to develop hybrid scaffolds for cultivated meat structuring, nutrient sensing, and scaleup at Lehigh University.
3D fiber scaffolds for shrimp
Learn about Dr. Nataraja Yadavalli’s research to develop edible nanofiber scaffolds for Pacific white shrimp at CytoNest.
Algae scaffolds for cultivated fish
Learn about Dr. Federico Ferreira’s research to develop scaffolds for cultivated fish from algae and plant materials at University of Lisbon.
To cultivate a small sample of starting cells into a chicken breast or salmon filet, an efficient, integrated bioprocess must be developed. Designing bioreactors, modeling cell behavior in these bioreactors, and creating sensors for real-time monitoring will improve process efficiency.
Integrating sensors into bioreactors
GFI grantees Dr. Ivana Gadjanski and Dr. Vasa Radonic are integrating sensors into bioreactors for cultivated meat production.
Designing cost-effective bioreactors
Learn about Dr. Marianne Ellis’s work at University of Bath to reduce the cost of bioreactors for cultivated meat production.
GFI grantee Dr. Mariana Petronela Hanga is researching culturing different cell types at the same time.
GFI grantee Dr. Simon Kahan at the Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium is using computational modeling to improve bioreactor design for meat cultivation.
Biomanufacturing scaffold-free cultivated meat
Learn about Dr. Yuguo Lei’s research to develop an integrated solution for biomanufacturing large-volume cultivated meat at Penn State.
Assembling organoids into meat
Learn about Dr. Iftach Nachman’s research to assemble skeletal muscle organoid building blocks into thick whole-cuts at Tel Aviv University.
Making fibrous cultivated meat
Learn about Dr. Mohamadmahdi Samandari’s research to integrate intramuscular fat and textural fibers into cultivated meat at University of Connecticut.
Plant-based meat research grants
For plant-based meat to compete with conventional meat on taste and price, additional scientific research is needed in the areas of crop optimization, ingredient processing, and end product formulation and manufacturing. GFI’s strategy has been to fund multiple projects within a given technology sector, since there are different ways to address white space needs. We will continue to monitor the state of plant-based meat science and periodically reevaluate where best to focus future grant funding.
Better starting materials can lead to better end products. We’re supporting research that will develop and optimize plants as sources of ingredients specifically for plant-based meat.
Breeding peas and sorghum
Learn about Dr. Dil Thavarajah’s work at Clemson University to breed organic pulse and cereal crops for improved protein biofortification.
Characterizing quinoa protein
Learn about Dr. Ofir Benjamin’s research characterizing quinoa protein for plant-based meat production at Tel Hai College.
Valorizing agricultural side streams
GFI grantee Dr. Marieke Bruins at Wageningen University in the Netherlands is valorizing agricultural side streams for alternative proteins.
Exploring cassava leaf proteins
GFI is exploring cassava leaf proteins with Dr. Ana Carla Kawazoe Sato at Brazil’s University of Campinas.
Scaling cashew apple supply
GFI grantee Dr. Dionisio is researching cashew apples as a raw material for plant-based meat and solving scale-up challenges in the supply chain.
Plant-based meat manufacturers need high-quality plant proteins, fats, starches and fiber, and binders to make great tasting products. Developing ingredients with the desired functionality and nutritional profile – and doing so in a way that is efficient and reduces batch-to-batch variability – is a critical need for next-gen plant-based meat.
Identifying pea protein off flavors
Learn about Dr. Jian Li’s work at Beijing Technology and Business University to identify off flavors in pea protein and improve plant-based meat.
Red seaweed protein
Learn about Trophic LLC’s research developing plant-based meat ingredients from red seaweed protein through GFI’s grant program.
Proteins under pressure
Learn about Dr. Ciara McDonnell’s work to establish high-pressure processing and high-pressure thermal processing parameters for plant proteins.
Characterizing bean proteins
Dr. Caroline Mellinger at The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) is exploring bean protein as ingredients for plant-based meat.
End product formulation & manufacturing
Combining plant ingredients to create meat that looks, smells, tastes, chews, and cooks like animal meat is no easy feat. Innovative formulation techniques and manufacturing technologies are being developed to biomimic animal meat without the animal.
Integrating sensors into extrusion
Learn about Dr. Filiz Koksel’s work at the University of Manitoba to integrate sensors into plant-based meat extrusion.
Learn about GFI grantee Dr. Mario Martinez’s work at the University of Guelph engineering microstructures for whole-muscle plant-based meat.
Learn about Dr. Ricardo San Martin’s research incorporating oleogels into plant-based meat at University of California, Berkeley.
Functional protein fractions
GFI grantee Ms. Miek Schlangen is making functional protein fractions for plant-based meat at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.
Texturizing proteins and fiber
GFI grantee Dr. Girish Ganjyal at Washington State University is texturizing proteins and fiber to make better plant-based meat.
Shear cell technology
GFI grantee Dr. Birgit Dekkers at Rival Foods in The Netherlands is developing shear cell technology to make whole cuts of plant-based meat.
Creating fiber-like structures
Learn how GFI grantee Dr. David Julian McClements is developing an alternative to extrusion for producing plant-based meat at the University of Massachusetts.
Muscle-like structures from pulse proteins
Learn about Dr. Zata Vickers’s research to develop muscle-like structures from pulse proteins to improve the texture of plant-based meat.
Texturizing seaweed proteins
Learn about Dr. Yoav Livney’s work at The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology texturizing seaweed proteins for plant-based seafood.
Connective tissue from plant fibers
Learn about Dr. Xiaonan Sui’s research to engineer connective tissues from plants at the Northeast Agricultural University in China.
3D Printing pulses into fish
Learn about Dr. Luciano Paulino Silva’s research on 3D printing whole-cut fish and seafood from pulses at Embrapa.
Stacking plant protein sheets
Learn about Dr. Hanry Yu’s research to recreate the texture of thick animal meats by stacking layers of plant protein sheets at A*STAR.
Melt-spinning marbled meat
Learn about Dr. Jay Park’s research on fiber melt spinning to biomimic intramuscular fat marbling in alternative proteins at UMass Lowell.
Learn about Dr. Lutz Grossmann’s research to use self-aggregating proteins to develop a low-energy extrusion process for whole-cut plant-based meats at UMass Amherst.
Fermentation research grants
Microbial fermentation is emerging as a key technology in building the next generation of alternative protein products. Despite fermentation’s long history in food and industrial biotechnology, tremendous potential for innovation remains untapped. GFI has begun funding fermentation research projects to capitalize on the immense opportunity for novel alternative protein solutions to emerge from fermentation-based approaches. We will continue to monitor the state of fermentation science and periodically reevaluate where best to focus future grant funding.
Turning mushrooms into fish
Learn about Dr. Olga Lucia Mondragon-Bernal’s research to biomimic fish fillets with fungal proteins at Federal University of Lavras (UFLA).
Fermenting flavor bases
Learn about GFI research grantee BZ Goldberg’s work at The Mediterranean Food Lab to develop better flavors for plant-based meat using fermentation.
Oat protein fermentation
Learn about cutting-edge research to use fermented oat protein to develop plant-based meat.
GFI-led research initiatives
We don’t just advance research through our grant program. We actively engage in partnerships with researchers to collaborate on removing technical bottlenecks facing the alternative protein industry. Here are examples of exciting research that we’re conducting.
Exploring millets for plant-based foods
As part of their initiative to build indigenous sources of protein, the GFI India Team is collaborating with academic and industry partners to explore millet varieties and characterize the nutritional and functional properties of ingredients derived from these crops. The data generated from this project will help food companies formulate new products involving millet ingredients.
Sustainable Seafood Initiative
Learn how plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated seafood can improve the health and sustainability of oceans.
Plant-based meat: Anticipating 2030 production requirements
In this in-depth report, we anticipate plant-based meat production requirements by 2030 to enable early identification of potential bottlenecks for ingredients, infrastructure, and investment needs.
Cultivated meat life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis
The goal of this project was to develop a first-order model of a future commercial-scale cultivated meat facility based on real industry data. The life cycle assessment (LCA) documents production inputs and waste streams, while the techno-economic analysis (TEA) captures capital expenditures and operating costs for the facility. Nineteen different companies active in the cultivated meat supply chain, including six cultivated meat manufacturers, contributed data to the study, making it the largest collaborative effort to assess the cultivated meat industry. Together, these studies highlight the major cost and environmental drivers of cultivated meat production and identify knowledge gaps in the production process. Ultimately these analyses should lead to improved efficiencies industry-wide by reducing cost and environmental impact.