Science and Innovation for Sustainability – Alternate foods and proteins from precision fermentation

Wednesday 29 June 2022 – 11:20 – 13:00 AEST

Chair: Professor Michelle Colgrave
Presenters: Jim Fader, Tom Davies, Dr Anna El Tahchy, Michele Stansfield, George Peppou, Ling Ka Yi, KC Carswell

Synthetic Biology or Advanced Engineering Biology is an interdisciplinary science involving biology, engineering, chemistry, and data science, that represents one of the fastest growing areas of modern science. Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves the design or redesign of organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to harness the power of nature to sustainably produce, novel materials, green chemicals, and novel food, feed, and fibre alternatives, disrupting virtually every industrial and agricultural sector. Additionally, organisms can be engineered to remove GHG from the atmosphere at scale or to build resilience into climate vulnerable ecosystems, playing a key role in climate resilience and climate action. Synthetic biology reduces the need for petroleum-based chemicals as well as for plant- and animal-based products, benefiting the environment. In recent years investment in synthetic biology companies has grown from US$3.1B in 2019 to >US$36B in 2021 and it has been estimated that 60% of the global economy’s physical inputs could be made using synthetic biology by 2040, resulting in direct economic benefits of at least US$1.7 trillion. A recent analysis for Australia concluded that synthetic biology represents an AUD$30B industry for Australia by 2040 with an associated 45,000 new jobs. This session will explore the transformational role synthetic biology will have at guiding the industrial complex and future food production systems to a sustainable future. The session will engage researchers, policy makers, industries and venture capitalists in comprehensive discussion about the current and future state of synthetic biology across sectors and how it will fuel transformations to a sustainable future.

Professor Michelle ColgraveProfessor of Food and Agriculture, CSIRO
Michelle Colgrave is a Professor of Food and Agriculture focusing on protein innovation. She leads CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission, a multidisciplinary research initiative that will transform our food systems. The Future Protein Mission is centred on principles of sustainable growth delivering high quality, affordable and nutritionally optimised protein for Australia. It will develop protein-based industries (including traditional protein, plant-based protein, insect and microbial protein) along the value chain from production to the customer, delivering premium protein ingredients and products, addressing the rapid growth of the protein-based sector.

Jim Fader
Jim Fader is a purpose-driven business leader with 20+ years in retail across multiple sectors and countries and 5+ years in business turnarounds and restructures. Jim has chased innovation all his career; refreshing fresh foods as a General Manager, Product Development for a market leading supermarket chain, landing award winning Duty Free store concepts as Buying Director and turning car tyres into printer ink in a waste-to-energy startup. Jim builds entrepreneurial cultures with an authentic leadership style focussing on people, pace and collaboration.

Tom Davies – VP of Research & Operations (APAC) for Change Foods
Tom Davies is the VP of Research & Operations (APAC) for Change Foods overseeing its research operations and strategic partnerships in Australia. He has over 20 years working with technology start-ups to scale operations in Europe, the US and Australia. He has previously worked in Venture Capital and has worked at some of the world’s largest technology and FMCG companies to develop and launch new technologies.  

Dr Anna El Tahchy – Chief Technical Officer, Nourish Ingredients
Dr Anna El Tahchy is an innovator in agriculture and food, with extensive experience in lipid engineering and food chemistry, as well as complex R&D projects, including the creation of new concepts for the engineering and production of novel food ingredients. As Chief Technical Officer at Nourish Ingredients, Anna applies her extensive biochemistry experience to drive continued innovation at Nourish and build breakthrough products for their customers that not only work in the lab but also drive market impact.

Michele Stansfield – General Manager, Agritechnology
Michele Stansfield is the General Manager of Agritechnology Pty Ltd, a contract precision fermentation scale up and manufacturing service provider. An experienced business and operations manager in biopharmaceuticals, food and feed ingredient development and manufacturing. Using a whole of value chain approach to product development- considering economic, regulatory and logistic paths. Michele is a  strong advocate for the alternative protein industry with a personal interest in food security and climate action.

George Peppou – Co-founder and CEO, Vow Foods
George is co-founder and CEO of Vow. Vow produces meat that is better than meat we eat today, creating the world’s most tantalising and unique culinary experiences. Vow does this by culturing the cells of animals, from both species we eat today and those we could never farm, creating a range of cell ingredients which can be turned into a wide variety of products – all produced using the same manufacturing process. Vow’s team of 53 is based in Sydney, Australia.
George began his career as a chef whilst studying biochemistry at the University of Sydney. George is a serial entrepreneur and inventor, with over 30 patents granted.

Dr Ling Ka Yi, group CTO & Co-founder of Shiok Meats
Dr Ling Ka Yi is a developmental and stem cell biologist with over 10 years expertise in tracing and studying stem cells during development. Ka Yi received the prestigious A*STAR’s National Science Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s and PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked closely with stem cell and developmental biology experts like James Thomson, Davor Solter and Barbara Knowles. Following graduation, Ka Yi did her postdoc at IMCB, A*STAR in Singapore. She is an active science communicator since her days in Madison; and frequently takes part in science outreach and speaks at food sustainability and career management events. She also did a podcast called “Science Now” and “Life after PhD” with fellow colleague/scholar. Ka Yi is passionate about marrying her experience in biotech research and her love for food to produce sustainable food products. In August 2018, she co-founded a cultivated crustaceans startup called Shiok Meats, along with Dr Sandhya Sriram. She is currently an advisor to North Mountain Consulting, Cell Ag Australia, Luyef Biotechnologies and other cultivated meats and seafood initiatives. She is a new angel investor to sustainable ventures. She was recognized as one of the MIT Tech Review’s “Innovators under 35 in Asia” 2020, the “Women and the Ocean: Changemakers” challenge 2020”, the Great Women Of Our Times 2020 by Women Weekly, and Gen T list 2020.

KC Carswell
KC relocated with their family to Australia late last year, but prior to that they served as the Vice President of Technology at UPSIDE Foods, a leading cell cultured meat startup. There, they led process development and oversaw the construction of UPSIDE’s first production facility. Prior to culturing cells for food, KC spent the previous two decades developing and supporting cell culture processes for the production of biotherapeutic proteins. KC holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University in Chicago and a BS degree from the University of Texas.