Shiru wins the DSM Meat Replacement Innovation Challenge
Eight finalists had the opportunity to pitch for the prize during the finale of the Meat Replacement Innovation Challenge on March 4th. The award was given to the biotech start-up Shiru.
The Meat Replacement Innovation Challenge aimed at rewarding the most promising company with an innovative solution that can (help) mimic the real meat experience. The decision was made by judges Elisabeth Hirschbichler, Pierre-Alain Ceralli and Rob Beudeker from DSM, and Cindy Gerhardt from Planet B.io.
Making a decision was not easy for the jury, as the majority of the presented companies were interesting due to their technology and fit with DSM. There were companies working on new technologies for the production process of plant based meat alternatives, innovations making use of shear cell technology, a solution of growing real animal meat proteins in yeasts and fungi, production of mycoproteins and others. A broad and interesting set of candidates that kept the jury debating for long about which company to choose to move forward with. After much deliberation, it was decided to go for Shiru due to its innovative technology and the great fit it has to DSM’s competences and long term innovation strategy.
Shiru is a biotech company that uses machine learning and precision biology to identify and create protein ingredients for the next generation of sustainable food. Their discovery approach consists of predicting functional proteins in silico and producing and testing small amounts of specific, high-value proteins in-house through high-throughput fermentation and analysis. Shiru is building the first database linking protein molecular identity with food functionality (e.g., solubility, emulsification) at scale.
Shiru’s CEO, Jasmin Hume, couldn’t believe her team was the winner of the challenge. In her excitement she said: “I am so proud of our team for winning the Meat Replacement Innovation Challenge by DSM. This is a big step towards us advancing our mission to bring transformative protein ingredients to market for a more sustainable future. The competition itself was so well run, thanks to the talented team at YES!Delft and Planet B.io. The photos show all the excitement and energy of the moment Shiru was announced as a winner in the Netherlands, with me celebrating on the webcam half a world away in California. We are really looking forward to the work ahead with the whole DSM team.”
But she wasn’t the only one excited. One of the members of the jury Pierre-Alain Ceralli, Business Unit Director Savory Ingredients, DSM, said: “This challenge has been great! It has helped us identify new and upcoming companies that could strengthen our innovation strategy for plant based meat alternatives. Start-ups like Shiru bring innovative technologies to the table along with speed and flexibility, which is a great asset to a fruitful collaboration, we are very much looking forward to engaging with them further.”
Jury member Cindy Gerhardt, managing director Planet B.io, also felt very inspired by the innovative pitches at the challenge. “To see the variety of ideas, the maturity of the companies, and their innovative approach is truly a testament to the potential of biotech innovation to solve what is today one of humanity’s most important challenges. I think the greatest value out of this challenge is that DFS has decided to engage further with multiple of the participating companies, not just the winner, proving that true value is generated when scouting is done properly!”
The challenge was only the beginning of multiple collaborations. Shiru will receive 50,000 euros worth of spending on a joint project with DSM to help bring their product to the next level. They will work together with DSM technical experts and scientists for product development, get access to DSM’s regulatory and legal expert for advice, and will be able to interact with DSM venturing to explore investment opportunities in the future. Some of the other candidates will also have follow up talks with different experts at DSM to discuss potential opportunities that the companies could explore together.