Laying the scientific foundation

Our work provides a rigorous foundation for advancing the fundamental scientific breakthroughs that enable alternative proteins to succeed. We analyze the industry to identify key knowledge gaps, allocate grant funding toward the highest-impact research projects, and cultivate an engaged community of scientists to forge collaborations and bolster the technical talent pipeline. We are charting a roadmap to overcome pre-competitive technical challenges through open-access research and accelerate the rate of progress across the alternative protein industry.

Analyzing knowledge gaps and white space opportunities

Identifying crucial knowledge gaps and articulating technological solutions requires a deep understanding of the science in alternative proteins and across parallel fields. Rigorous industry analyses such as life cycle assessments and technoeconomic analyses also provide critical insights for identifying the most impactful levers for improving the taste, texture, price, and sustainability of alternative protein products.

Through a combination of in-house analysis and collaborative partnerships, we are charting a roadmap for addressing technological shortcomings through open-access research and technology development.

Allocating funding toward high-impact research

In an emerging field like alternative proteins, research funding has an outsized catalytic effect, serving to generate preliminary data that stimulates follow-on investment from conventional funding mechanisms. Our Research Grant Program can rapidly deploy funding for mission-critical projects while supporting our researchers to ensure swift commercial translation of their work.

In parallel, our team of experts also serves in an advisory capacity to strategically guide grant-making decisions by other research funders and to support investigators in crafting high-impact proposals.

Building global scientific communities and cultivating talent

Most scientists and engineers working in alternative protein research are relatively new to the field, applying their skills from a wide array of fields to this decidedly interdisciplinary endeavor.

Through our seminar series, researcher communities, collaborative workshops, and on-campus student groups, we build bridges and foster connections throughout the global scientific community. These activities also build a robust pipeline of technical talent, which is often cited as a bottleneck to growth within the alternative protein industry.

Technical deep-dives

A closeup view of a plated plant-based burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles

The science of plant-based meat

Learn about the science of plant-based meat. Discover resources and research on the latest technological developments and key scientific questions.

A battered and fried cultured meat, a cultured chicken cutlet, plated with sauteed greens and mashed root vegetables | image courtesy of memphis meats

The science of cultivated meat

Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.

Fermented meat by meati

The science of fermentation

Learn about the emerging role of microbial fermentation in building the next generation of alternative protein products.

Research ideas

Research ideas

GFI identifies the most pressing technological bottlenecks and prioritizes the most promising solutions to accelerating alternative proteins. Tap into our solutions database to discover ideas for research projects, find inspiration for new commercial ventures and products, and explore ecosystem-level interventions to accelerate the field. 

  • Icon cultivated Cultivated
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation
  • Icon plant based Plant-Based

Techno-economic models to inform product and process development

Open-access models based on generalized or exemplar processes with standardized unit operations and process designs can form the foundation for individual companies’ work, reducing duplicative effort.

Read More
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation

Comprehensive microbial screening to identify new protein production candidate strains

A systematic, open-access, comprehensive analysis of novel microbial strains could drastically expand the available strains that can compete on flavor, efficiency, cost, and nutrition.

Read More
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation
  • Icon plant based Plant-Based

Protein sequence, structure, and functionality database

An open-access database could provide functional and characterization data using standardized methods to facilitate direct performance comparisons among proteins and to train predictive algorithms.

Read More
  • Icon cultivated Cultivated
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation
  • Icon plant based Plant-Based

Developing open-access model production facility blueprints

Open-access blueprints would provide a head start on facility design and allow equipment manufacturers and engineering companies to address standard industry needs.

Read More
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation
  • Icon plant based Plant-Based

Biological processing methods for isolating protein ingredients

Developing and commercializing biological processing methods for isolating and functionalizing protein ingredients

Read More
  • Icon cultivated Cultivated

Species-specific research toolkits for cultivated meat-relevant species

Coordinated efforts to develop standardized, comprehensive research toolkits of meat-relevant species would exponentially accelerate cultivated meat research.

Read More
  • Icon fermentation Fermentation

Biosynthetic pathway discovery for fermentation-produced molecules

Microbial biosynthetic pathways can be mined computationally to identify candidate pathways for manufacturing high-value ingredients via fermentation.

Read More
  • Icon cultivated Cultivated

Open-access formulations & optimization methods for cell culture media and growth factor cocktails

The availability of more open-access formulations will provide a foundation to enable both academic researchers and startup companies to develop their own customized formulations with far less effort and cost.

Read More
  • Icon cultivated Cultivated

Computational models of perfusion flow through scaffolds

For tissue-structured cultivated meat production, the transition from the proliferation phase to differentiation phase may involve seeding cells onto a prefabricated scaffold within a perfusion bioreactor. Medium is then perfused…

Read More
Tools and databases

Tools and databases

Explore our library of research tools and databases that are designed to advance research, foster connection, accelerate learning, and help scientists overcome key technological bottlenecks like access to cell lines and research tools.

Waves crashing together, representing an ocean sustainability concept

Aggregating data for alternative seafood

Use our open-access databases to explore how scientific taxonomies and evolutionary relationships map onto culinary categories of seafood.

Animal cells in suspension, representing the concept of cultured meat

Expanding access to cell lines

Lack of access to cell lines is a major barrier to cultivated meat research. This initiative is increasing access and funding the development of new lines.

Scientists looking at a screen displaying animal cells and a dna double helix

Collaborative Researcher Directory

Use this directory to find scientific collaborators in the alternative protein field.

Scientist looking through a microscope, wearing blue gloves

Cultivated Meat Research Tools Database

Use this crowdsourced directory to find species-specific information on research tools, reagents, protocols, and data for cultivated meat researchers.

Young plant growing from coins representing funding and growth

Research Funding Database

GFI’s Research Funding Database provides curated grant opportunities for open-access alternative protein research.

A student walking with notebooks on a college campus

Alt protein curriculum development and support

Bring more alternative protein content to the classroom with these curriculum materials and resources for students and professors.

Smiling student with backpack and folder

Student resource guide

This guide will help you steer through the exciting world of alternative proteins.

Hands typing on a laptop computer keyboard, representing mooc concept for cultured meat and plant-based meat science.

Massive open online course

Enroll in GFI’s open-access online course to learn about the science of plant-based and cultivated meat.

Plants growing in erlenmeyer flasks

Research Labs Database

Use GFI’s Research Labs Database to find laboratories where public alternative protein science is being conducted today.

Female scientist doing alternative protein research in a lab

Are there other ways GFI can support your research?

Publications and analyses

Publications and analyses

These resources take a deep dive into the science accelerating plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy and share valuable insights about the state of alternative protein technologies.

A closeup view of a plated plant-based burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles

The science of plant-based meat

Learn about the science of plant-based meat. Discover resources and research on the latest technological developments and key scientific questions.

A battered and fried cultured meat, a cultured chicken cutlet, plated with sauteed greens and mashed root vegetables | image courtesy of memphis meats

The science of cultivated meat

Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.

Fermented meat by meati

The science of fermentation

Learn about the emerging role of microbial fermentation in building the next generation of alternative protein products.

Inn sotir 2021 pb slider cover

State of the Industry Report: Plant-Based Meat, Eggs, and Dairy

This analysis of the U.S. plant-based meat, egg, and dairy market covers sales data, investment analytics, consumer insights, and more.

Inn sotir 2021 cm slider cover

State of the Industry Report: Cultivated Meat

This global analysis of the cultivated meat industry covers investments, consumer insights, and scientific progress in this growing market sector.

Inn sotir 2021 f slider cover

State of the Industry Report: Fermentation

This analysis of fermentation for alternative protein production covers science, entrepreneurship, policy, and industry investments.

Sci wp cover art clean meat production volume media cost 01

Analyzing cell culture medium costs

This white paper explains different routes to lowering the cost of cell culture medium and making cultivated meat economically viable.

Food technology cover image of an illustrated boat on water

Formulating with animal-free ingredients

GFI scientists explain how ingredients derived from plants and fermentation can be used to create animal-free meat, egg, and dairy alternatives.

Homemade plant-based burger with sweet potato fries

Meat by the molecule: Making meat with plants and cells (The Biochemist)

This article from The Biochemist provides a high-level overview of plant-based and cultivated meat.

Scholar holding molecular model, representing biomedical science concept

Translating biomedical advances to cultivated meat (Biochemical Engineering Journal)

This peer-reviewed article discusses how advances from the biomedical cell culture industry can contribute to the development of cultivated meat.

Stainless steel tanks for fermentation

Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture

Learn how cellular agriculture makes it possible to produce genuine animal protein through microbial precision fermentation.

Meeting the needs report cover edited

Meeting the needs of the cell-based meat industry

Read GFI senior scientist Dr. Elliot Swartz’s article in CEP on how the industrial biotechnologist can advance cultivated meat.

Research funding

With the support of several generous donors, GFI’s Research Grant Program funds open-access alternative protein research. Get inspired by these research projects, and find funding opportunities for your own research.

Abstract representation of computational modeling for cultured meat

Computational modeling

GFI grantee Dr. Simon Kahan at the Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium is using computational modeling to improve bioreactor design for meat cultivation.

Cashew apples sitting in a basket

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.

Stem cells for cultured meat development

The Frozen Farmyard repository

Learn about Dr. Gareth Sullivan’s work to develop a “frozen farmyard” cell line repository for cultivated meat.

Red seaweed floating on the ocean surface

Red seaweed protein

Learn about Trophic LLC’s research developing plant-based meat ingredients from red seaweed protein through GFI’s grant program.

Illustration representing marbled cultivated beef

Developing marbled cultivated beef

GFI is developing marbled cultivated beef with Dr. Amy Rowat at University of California, Los Angeles

Biosensor concept for monitoring cultivated meat production in real time

Integrating sensors into bioreactors

GFI grantees Dr. Ivana Gadjanski and Dr. Vasa Radonic are integrating sensors into bioreactors for cultivated meat production.

Field of sorghum rows

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.

Moody pile of peas

Functional protein fractions

GFI grantee Ms. Miek Schlangen is making functional protein fractions for plant-based meat at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

Scientists looking at a screen displaying animal cells and a dna double helix

Join our global scientific community

Our Collaborative Researcher Directory makes it easier for scientists to find collaborators with complementary skills so that together they can accelerate the transition to the next generation of meat, eggs, and dairy. Join our community of researchers today to forge connections, find industry and academic collaborators, and learn about the latest in alternative protein science.

Recent scientific seminars

Dr. Julian McClements: A colloid science approach to next-generation plant-based milks
Dr. Amy Rowat: Marbling cultivated meat with hydrogel scaffolds
Dr. Ricardo San Martin: Using nano-emulsions to improve fat encapsulation
Dr. David Kaplan: Using tissue engineering to grow cultivated meat
Dr. Birgit Dekkers: Using shear cell technology to texturize plant proteins
Alt protein project badge on a in front of a field of green wheat


The Alt Protein Project

Students play a pivotal role in building the alternative protein ecosystem. Learn how you can start a student group to accelerate the global transition to the future of food.

Network concept for career development, icons of people in hexagons


Alternative protein career portal

Learn how to make a career and find open positions in the exciting field of alternative proteins.

Meet our experts

View all experts

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/lizs headshot

Liz Specht, Ph.D.


Liz Specht oversees GFI’s Science and Technology department to build a roadmap for accelerating alternative protein research while empowering scientists to execute on this vision.

Areas of expertise: plant-based meat, fermentation, technical analyses, forecasting and modeling, synthetic biology, public speaking.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/erinc headshot

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.


Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D. oversees our plant-based protein, cultivated meat, and fermentation research funding efforts.

Areas of expertise: scientific research, plant-based meat, grant writing, research project management.

Elliot headshot

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.


Elliot Swartz analyzes scientific progress and bottlenecks in cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: stem cell biology, neuroscience, cultivated meat.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/claire headshot

Claire Bomkamp, Ph.D.


Claire Bomkamp is focused on cultivated seafood and driving forward GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

Areas of expertise: the science and technology of cultivated seafood, cultivated seafood startups, research, and university programs, science communication, fish puns.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/austinc headshot

Austin Clowes


Austin Clowes oversees GFI’s Research Grant Program, working to increase the amount of open-access research on plant-based and cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: grants, scientific research, technological assessment.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/jamesd headshot

James Dale, Ph.D.


James Dale identifies and expands scientific research funding opportunities for alt proteins. He also coordinates opportunities with GFI’s allies in academia and industry.

Areas of expertise: nanomaterials, interdepartmental research, research funding, grants.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2021/01/amyh headshot

Amy Huang


Amy Huang helps lead GFI’s efforts to transform universities into engines of alternative protein research and education.

Areas of expertise: university programs, academic ecosystem-building, global health, design thinking, effective altruism, public speaking.

Blake byrne headshot

Blake Byrne


Close up top view of young people putting their hands together

Support our work

Our research and scientific initiatives are made possible thanks to our generous, global family of donors. Philanthropic support is vital to our mission. Connect with us today to discuss how you can help fuel this transformative work.

Recent updates

Nanyang technological university

APAC’s first alternative protein university course is coming to Singapore

Nanyang Technological University has approved a new undergraduate alternative protein course designed to build the industry’s talent pipeline.

Biomas project baru plant species

GFI is funding research to develop alt protein ingredients from Brazilian plant species

GFI Brazil’s Biomas Project will allocate up to R$135,000 to each research project that transforms native Amazon and Cerrado plant species, such as babaçu and macaúba, into raw materials for…

Ocean with light shining through surface

With support from NOAA, alt seafood could help sustainably meet the growing demand for seafood

With open-access research funding from NOAA, alternative seafood could help protect our oceans and bolster U.S. seafood production.

Higher steaks cultivated meat

Cultivated meat is gaining momentum—and pathways for regulatory approval

As cultivated meat moves closer to market globally, many countries are actively establishing regulatory approval pathways.