Alternatives Ginkgo Bioworks launches Motif Ingredients
Motif investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Company, Fonterra, and Viking Global Investors. Jonathan McIntyre, formerly Head of R&D at Indigo Agriculture and former SVP of R&D at PepsiCo, will lead Motif as CEO. Motif will be headquartered at Ginkgo’s Boston Seaport facility.
Consumer demand for alternative foods such as meat substitutes and plant-based beverages grew 17% last year, with food companies rapidly innovating to keep up with demand, but obstacles remain to create products that maintain the taste, health profile and integrity of their animal-based counterparts. Motif’s ingredients offer a solution to this problem, bringing the nutrition and taste that consumers demand at an accessible price that mass scale food markets require. Using biotechnology and fermentation – rather than animal agriculture – the company will engineer dozens of proteins derived from dairy, egg and meat without compromising the functionality, taste and nutrition of animal-based ingredients.
“Sustainability and accessible nutrition are among the biggest challenges facing the food industry today. Consumers are demanding mindful food options, but there’s a reigning myth that healthy and plant-based foods must come at a higher price, or cannot taste or function like the animal-based foods they aim to replicate,” said Jonathan McIntyre, PhD, CEO of Motif.
Biotechnology is indispensable for catalyzing the next generation of foods. Vital food ingredients, including vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and flavors, are made through fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria in a process similar to brewing beer. Identifying and developing new fermented ingredients – particularly new proteins – that are historically derived from animals requires deep technical resources and experience.
Motif is the second startup to launch from Ginkgo’s breakthrough platform for biological engineering. The first, Joyn Bio, was launched in September 2017 in a joint venture by Ginkgo and Leaps by Bayer to focus on achieving more sustainable agricultural practices, starting with nitrogen fixation. With Ginkgo’s state of the art automated foundries and codebase, startups like Motif and Joyn can easily access the vast diversity of biology to grow innovative and sustainable new products.