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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research funding opportunities
GFI’s annual Competitive Research Grant Program
Once a year, we release a request for proposals (RFP) for large-scale, open-access research that addresses the organoleptic properties, cost, or scaleup of alternative proteins. These projects typically do not exceed 24 months and $250,000. Our next Competitive Research Grant RFP will be released in 2022.
White space collaborations
Partnerships are critical to filling unmet technological needs in the alternative protein industry. This funding is for targeted research solutions that address the highest-priority areas for innovation across each segment of the alternative protein value chains. These projects typically do not exceed 12 months and $100,000. Our next white space collaboration RFP will open around September 2021.
We are currently accepting proposals focused on: 1) generating cell lines for cultivated meat research; and 2) producing plant-based or fermented fats for use in plant-based meat. The submission deadline is November 1, 2021.
Exploratory research grants
We provide short-term, limited funding to turn pioneering ideas into discoveries. This funding is for experimental ideas and exploratory research that could lead to big breakthroughs. These projects typically do not exceed 6 months and $50,000.
We are not accepting exploratory grant applications for the remainder of 2021. Stay tuned for new funding opportunities in 2022!
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.
Learn about Dr. Gareth Sullivan’s work to develop a “frozen farmyard” cell line repository for cultivated meat.
Learn about Dr. Kevan Main and Dr. Cathy Walsh’s work at Mote Marine Laboratory to develop cell lines and methodology for cultivated seafood.
Through the GFI grant program, the Kaplan lab is developing myosatellite lines for cultivated Atlantic salmon at Tufts University
Learn about Dr. Ori Bar-Nur’s research to convert bovine and porcine fibroblasts into proliferative myogenic progenitor cells at ETH Zurich.
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.
Learn about Dr. Peter Stogios’ research engineering improved and lower-cost growth factors for cultivated meat at University of Toronto.
Learn about Dr. David Block’s work to perfect growth media for cultivated chicken at University of California, Davis.
Learn about Dr. Connon and Dr. Gouveia’s work at Newcastle University, UK to formulate growth media for cultivated meat with macromolecular crowding.
Learn about Dr. Reza Ovissipour’s research using machine learning to optimize growth media for fish cells at Virginia Tech.
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.
GFI is developing marbled cultivated beef with Dr. Amy Rowat at University of California, Los Angeles
Learn about Dr. Marcelle Machluf’s work designing cellular building blocks for cultivated meat with at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
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
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).
Learn about Dr. Kelly Schultz’s research to develop hybrid scaffolds for cultivated meat structuring, nutrient sensing, and scaleup at Lehigh University.
Learn about Dr. Nataraja Yadavalli’s research to develop edible nanofiber scaffolds for Pacific white shrimp at CytoNest.
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.
GFI grantees Dr. Ivana Gadjanski and Dr. Vasa Radonic are integrating sensors into bioreactors for cultivated meat production.
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.
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.
Learn about Dr. Dil Thavarajah’s work at Clemson University to breed organic pulse and cereal crops for improved protein biofortification.
Learn about Dr. Ofir Benjamin’s research characterizing quinoa protein for plant-based meat production at Tel Hai College.
GFI grantee Dr. Marieke Bruins at Wageningen University in the Netherlands is valorizing agricultural side streams for alternative proteins.
GFI is exploring cassava leaf proteins with Dr. Ana Carla Kawazoe Sato at Brazil’s University of Campinas.
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.
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.
Learn about Trophic LLC’s research developing plant-based meat ingredients from red seaweed protein through GFI’s grant program.
Learn about Dr. Ciara McDonnell’s work to establish high-pressure processing and high-pressure thermal processing parameters for plant 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.
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.
GFI grantee Ms. Miek Schlangen is making functional protein fractions for plant-based meat at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.
GFI grantee Dr. Girish Ganjyal at Washington State University is texturizing proteins and fiber to make better plant-based meat.
GFI grantee Dr. Birgit Dekkers at Rival Foods in The Netherlands is developing shear cell technology to make whole cuts of plant-based meat.
Learn how GFI grantee Dr. David Julian McClements is developing an alternative to extrusion for producing plant-based meat at the University of Massachusetts.
Learn about Dr. Zata Vickers’s research to develop muscle-like structures from pulse proteins to improve the texture of plant-based meat.
Learn about Dr. Yoav Livney’s work at The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology texturizing seaweed proteins for plant-based seafood.
Learn about Dr. Xiaonan Sui’s research to engineer connective tissues from plants at the Northeast Agricultural University in China.
Learn about Dr. Luciano Paulino Silva’s research on 3D printing whole-cut fish and seafood from pulses at Embrapa.
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.
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.
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 production volume modeling
Rapid market transformations require massive infrastructure and supply chain developments. GFI’s plant-based meat production volume modeling will provide information to incentivize supply chain and infrastructure creation, thus preventing bottlenecks.
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.