Change Foods, an Australian-U.S. precision fermentation start-up, has been awarded an AU$1M Australian Commonwealth Government grant to research the upcycling of Queensland sugarcane into a feedstock for its precision fermentation products. Queensland produces 30 million tons of sugarcane annually, resulting in 10 million tons of residual cane fiber, which Change Foods can convert into valuable feedstock, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy. 

The grant will support a research collaboration between Change Foods and the Queensland University of Technology [QUT], which David Bucca, Founder and CEO of Change Foods, called “a dynamic opportunity for public-private partnership with the Federal government and QUT.

Change Foods was awarded the grant as part of the Federal Securing Raw Materials Program, which aids the expansion of regional business operations and strengthens ties with regional Universities. 

“We want to prioritise and strengthen our valuable partnerships between Australian businesses, our world-class research institutions and regional communities, ensuring regional Australia is at the forefront of innovation and change,” explained Ms. Angie Bell, MP and Federal Member for Moncrieff. 

Change Foods said their strong partnership with QUT positioned them well to secure the grant. Tom Davies, Vice President of Research and Operations (APAC) for Change Foods, also pointed to the recognition that Queensland,with a wealth of world-leading microbiologists and access to sugarcane waste – is “uniquely positioned to benefit from the shift to synthetic biology and future food manufacturing.”

Using precision fermentation technology, feedstock produced from the sugarcane fibre will be fed to specialised microbes that produce the milk protein, casein. This protein is a key component in cheese production, which Change Foods will use to  produce animal-free dairy products, starting first with cheese. The company is aiming for an initial market launch of its first cheese products in the U.S. in late 2024. 

Following recent funding for plant protein production in South Australia, this grant is the latest from the Australian Government for an alternative proteins company and indicates growing support for the industry within Australia.

READ MORE: Change Foods Awarded $1 Million Grant for Development of Sustainable Feedstock for Animal-Free Dairy [Protein Report] 

READ MORE IN ALTERNATIVE PROTEINS NEWS: Food Frontier News