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Hong Kong-based microalgae biotech Geb Impact Technology has received a grant from the Hong Kong government for its new project to scale its microalgae cultivation for plant-based meat applications. The startup also announced its entry into the Dao Foods incubator program, which will support the company’s reach into China’s fast-growing alternative protein market.
Announced on Monday (June 21), Geb Impact Technology has been awarded a grant from the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) under the Enterprise Support Scheme (ESS). The funds will be used to support its project to develop its advanced fermentation technology to use microalgae to develop plant-based meat replacements.
Euglena microalgae for alternative protein
Geb Impact says that the microalgae strain that they will be cultivating is Euglena. Under their new government-supported project entitled “All-in-One Euglena by Advanced Fermentation as Main Plant-based Replacement of Meat”, the startup hopes to use their technology platform to create new plant-based meat, seafood and other alternatives to animal-based foods.
The HK$2 million (US$257,500) project is focusing on Euglena microalgae due to its unique protein, beta-glucan, EPA, and DHA content. Describing it as an “all-in-one solution to human nutrition needs”, Euglena is also a natural dietary source of polysaccharide fibre, which is known to activate immune cells and improve resistance to viral and bacterial infections.
Moreover, the microalgae is non-GMO and contains no major allergens, making it a suitable ingredient to develop allergy-friendly alternative proteins. Many of the current plant-based meat replacement products on the market contain soy or wheat.
Speaking at a Dao Foods and GFIC hosted tech-themed webinar for Chinese scientists and researchers, the startup’s founder and CEO James Chang explained that the team has already successfully produced axenic Euglena dry biomass with a protein content of over 50%.
Previously, Geb Impact has developed microalgae such as Chlorella vulgaris and Haematococcus Pluvialis for applications in the plant-based skincare and cosmetics sectors. Chang co-founded the company with CTO Dr. Wang Zhonghui.
Joining Dao Foods incubator
During the conference, Chang also shared that Geb Impact will be joining Dao Foods’ incubator program. Dao Foods is a cross-border impact investment venture that launched its incubator for plant-based startups last year, offering financial support, mentorship opportunities and development workshops tailored to the fast-growing Chinese market.
Welcoming Geb Impact into the program, Albert Tseng, co-founder of Dao Foods said: “We believe that microalgae and other microbial fermentation technologies will play a significant role in providing consumers with exciting food choices that are significantly more sustainable than traditional animal protein sources.”
“As such, we are excited to work with the Geb Impact Technology team to help them further develop their microalgae cultivation and extend their product reach in China, where we believe the demand for alternative proteins will increase dramatically in coming years.”
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.