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Biotech Cirkulär is using advanced biotechnology processes to produce alternative proteins in bulk from biological residues. With a low environmental impact, the company’s first application is milk protein which can be used to create cheese.
Swedish startup Cirkulär is developing climate-smart biotechnology systems to produce animal protein beginning with the production of cheese.
Microorganisms instead of cows
With the help of a closed, antibiotic-free process that is based on fermentation, the company will use genetically modified microorganisms to produce milk protein casein. This protein is similar to the casein in traditional milk, but is produced without any cows. The raw materials include biological residues like those from rapeseed oil pressing.
According to the company, several plant-based cheeses in the market are nothing like animal-based cheese as they do not possess casein. This is an important component as it is found in high quantities in milk and makes a difference to the taste and texture of the cheese.
We’ve chosen to start with casein in order to achieve the greatest environmental benefit in the shortest time, given the magnitude of cheese consumption worldwide and the enormous volume of milk required for the production process – one kilogram of cheese requires ten liters of milkEric Öste, co-founder and CEO of Cirkulär
To further help them achieve their mission, Öste and co-founder Sebastian Carreno Correa are partnering with researchers from Lund University and Chalmers University of Technology.
After lamb and beef production, animal-based cheese comes third in carbon dioxide production. Each kg of cheese produced releases around 10 kgs of carbon dioxide emissions. Apart from this, cows raised to obtain this milk release methane, which is 30 times more deadly than the same amount of carbon dioxide.
To reduce the impacts of this large-scale livestock farming and cheesemaking on the environment, Cirkulär has chosen cheese protein to begin with.
“Our vision is to use our technology to produce various types of proteins in order to sharply reduce environmental impact,” co-founder and CEO of Cirkulär, Eric Öste said in a statement. “We’ve chosen to start with casein in order to achieve the greatest environmental benefit in the shortest time, given the magnitude of cheese consumption worldwide and the enormous volume of milk required for the production process – one kilogram of cheese requires ten liters of milk.”
Cirkulär has received a prize and a seat in a European coaching program for startups which is sponsored by the innovation organization EIT Food. In the past, it has been awarded by the Swedish Energy Agency, and Vinnova.
The company recently became a new member of the SmiLe Incubator which enables entrepreneurs commercialize their innovative solutions. To date, the life science business incubator has attracted over EUR €460 million(approx. US$546) in venture capital.
Öste added that the team is extremely delighted pleased to be a part of the SmiLe Incubator. “We are particularly looking forward to having our business model challenged by SmiLe’s experienced coaches, and to broadening our network.”
CEO of SmiLe Incubator, Ebba Fåhraeus said: “Cirkulär is a company of great interest with a focus on climate-smart technologies. It’s exciting to help shepherd yet another innovation emerging from university-based biotechnology research onward toward commercialization – our coaches and our labs are ready for them, and our broad network can help them to achieve their goal faster.”
Belonging to the same country, scientist Marité Cárdenas is also working to create a plant-based protein which mimics the casein in milk and create a vegan cheesemaking process with a similar nutritional value as dairy-based cheese.
Lead image – Eric Öste, courtesy of SmiLe.