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Bath signs agreement with A*STAR in Singapore for a partnership in sustainable food technologies

The agreement between Bath and A*STAR in Singapore enables joint research to promote the production of alternative sources of food protein including cultured meat.

The University of Bath has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Singapore’s lead public sector R&D agency, to establish a collaboration in sustainable food technologies.

The MoU was signed on 4 March at a ceremony in Singapore with senior representatives of A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council, including Professor Ng Huck Hui, Assistant Chief Executive, and Professor Ralph Graichen, Senior Director (Food & Consumer).

The partnership will enable Bath to join forces with A*STAR’s research institutes for the production of alternative sources of food protein including cultured meat, lab-grown meat from animal stem cells that shows promise to address the global challenges of food security while reducing the environmental and ethical footprint of conventional farming and meat production.

Led at Bath by CSCT academic Dr Marianne Ellis, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and a global expert on cultured meats, the collaboration will provide a unique opportunity to bring together mutual strengths in biotechnology research and build world-leading capabilities in cultured meat bioprocessing design and production. The partnership will also help explore new, more cost-effective ways of growing and producing cultured meat at industrial scale, addressing current barriers to commercialisation.

Novel food technologies are important to Singapore, as it has limited land supply and imports most of its food to meet local demands. Overcoming the challenges of producing cultured meats requires interdisciplinary research and collaborative efforts along the entire chain of research and industrial application, from tissue cell banking and effective bioengineering at scale, to consumer acceptance and the regulatory environment for lab-grown foods.

The MoU provides a foundation for such joint research as well as talent exchange between Bath and a number of A*STAR institutes engaged in food tech research. This MoU is also aligned with the SG-UK Partnership for the Future – an initiative that further cements the UK’s and Singapore’s commitment to seizing common opportunities and solving shared challenges creatively and collaboratively.

As an interdisciplinary effort, the partnership also invites University-wide collaboration at Bath, with the opportunity to bring together expertise in the areas of cell biology and biomaterials research, computational modelling, civil engineering and biosensors, as well as behavioural psychology to understand consumer attitudes and policy research into the regulation of novel foods.

Dr Marianne Ellis comments: “Globally, we see cultured meat gaining support as a potential protein alternative. Singapore and the UK are countries both recognised for their key enabling capabilities to realise this potential. I am absolutely thrilled to launch this academic partnership between A*STAR and Bath, which will put us front and centre of international research in this emerging field.”

Professor Jeremy Bradshaw, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Doctoral & International) comments:

“I am delighted to launch our University’s new partnership with A*STAR in the field of sustainable food technologies. This Memorandum of Understanding adds important momentum to Bath’s internationally recognised expertise in cultured meats and in the biotechnology of alternative food sources. The collaboration will enable Bath to join forces with Singapore’s global R&D capabilities and will lend further support to the interdisciplinary strength of our University’s research profile.”

Professor Ng Huck Hui comments:

“The alternative proteins industry needs to develop more innovative technologies and processes to drive sustainable food production. I’m excited to see A*STAR’s research capabilities contribute to this collaboration with the University of Bath, in areas such as biotechnology and bioprocessing.”

By 14 March 2020

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