The science of sustainable protein

Cultivated meat, plant-based foods and fermentation offer exciting research opportunities with huge societal benefits. 

As an international NGO, the Good Food Institute Europe works with scientists to develop, fund and promote open-access research on sustainable proteins.

Scientist researching plant-based meat
Woman studying

GFI’s online course

GFI’s open-access online course explores the science behind sustainable proteins. In five self-paced modules, you’ll learn about the processes used to produce plant-based, fermentation-made, and cultivated meat, as well as the environmental and economic drivers behind these sectors.

Sustainable protein course database

Explore Europe’s sustainable protein science community

Scientist illustration

The field of sustainable protein development comprises a growing community of academics from across multiple disciplines. Our paper published in Nature Biotech explores the various reasons why this is a fascinating area of study, and the countless opportunities for researchers entering the space.

Collaborative researcher directory

Collaborative researcher directory

Use this directory to connect with European researchers who are active in the sustainable protein space or are looking to apply their expertise to this field. This directory also indicates what kinds of collaborative work researchers are interested in exploring with students, labs, and companies.

Labs database

Labs database

Use this database to explore sustainable protein research happening across Europe. Labs are categorised by alternative protein type and research focus.

Meet some of Europe’s sustainable protein scientists

Meet the researcher: bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurship with Prof Che Connon

Professor Che Connon’s quest to bring cultivated meat closer to dining tables has led to him bridging the gap between…

Meet the researcher: leading the UK’s new £12m cellular agriculture research hub with Prof Marianne Ellis

Head of the UK’s new £12 million Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA), we talk to Marianne Ellis about her goals…

Meet the researcher: discovering the next big ingredients in plant-based protein with Karolina Östbring

The plant-based industry has only begun to scratch the surface of what ingredients can be used to create more sustainable…

Meet the researcher: squeezing the protein out of plants with Dr Alan Javier Hernandez Alvarez

A career spent exploring the nutritional and health benefits of plant-based foods – along with an outsider’s perspective – has given Dr…

Meet the researcher: the fascinating philosophy of sustainable proteins with Luca Lo Sapio

A ‘new allegiance’ between science and philosophy will be necessary to enable sustainable proteins to reach their full potential, according…

Dr Sirli Rosenvald

Meet the researcher: Sniffing out better alternative seafood with Sirli Rosenvald

Dr Sirli Rosenvald has set herself a challenge: developing plant-based seafood she would actually want to eat.

Dr João Pedro Marques Garcia

Meet the researcher: Growing meat in space, changing life on Earth with João Garcia

A project to feed astronauts on future missions to Mars could make a huge difference to the lives of millions…

Leonie Jahn

Meet the researcher: filamentous fungi and seafood with Leonie Jahn

There needs to be more interaction between the worlds of food and science, according to a researcher working with a…

Science events

GFI’s science and technology team holds regular webinars and networking events where you can keep up with the latest research and find collaborators.

The Alt Protein Project student movement

The Alt Protein Project is a global student movement dedicated to turning universities into engines for alternative protein education, research, and innovation. Students are the driving force behind the Alt Protein Project, which is building momentum at universities around the world. Applications are now open for students to start new Alt Protein Project chapters, find out more here.

European groups

University of Bayreuth

The Bayreuth-Kulmbach Alt Protein Project is connecting research and teaching on alternative proteins at the natural sciences / social sciences divide.

The Project brings together a community of researchers and students working towards a sustainable and equitable future where alternative proteins play a prominent role and which is based on the respect for the rule of law, open science, consumer safety and citizens’ empowerment.

As a leading research university with a newly established faculty focused on food, nutrition and health, the University of Bayreuth brings together top researchers, state-of-the-art research and teaching environment and zeal for improving world food systems.

University of Cambridge

The Cambridge Alt Protein Project aims to create a sustainable protein ecosystem in Cambridge and build the groundwork for open-access research in the sustainable protein industry.

To achieve this, they are raising awareness of sustainable proteins in the Cambridge community and establishing a pipeline for talented students to enter the field. They are proud to have built and run the world’s largest sustainable protein educational and talent recruitment programme, which has resulted in the formation of a number of new student groups, sparked research projects and connected multiple talented students with career opportunities.

Technical University of Denmark

The DTU Alt Protein Project is building a unique community of experts and enthusiasts in the sustainable protein field. It educates, raises awareness, empowers research and provides networking opportunities to those passionate about sustainable proteins.

EIT Food

The EIT Food Alt Protein Project’s mission is to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all by raising awareness and generating interest in sustainable proteins.

The EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community that creates connections across the food system to stimulate new ideas and innovations.

This APP chapter is hosted by a pan-European community consisting of seven universities. These include the Autonomous University of Madrid, Lund University, University of Warsaw, University of Reading, University of Turin, University of Hohenheim and Aarhus University.

This diverse range of academic institutions enables the group to engage an equally diverse range of students, scientists, staff and other stakeholders. Bringing together the individual strengths of all partners from our network, they will focus on expanding sustainable protein research and education opportunities, while building a passionate student society across Europe.

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

The NMBU Alt Protein Project aims to build a healthy, sustainable and just food system by creating a thriving community for education, research, and innovation in sustainable proteins. They are a welcoming space for everyone eager to co-create the future of food – for people, animals, and the planet.

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) lies at the heart of food and agriculture in Norway, and is a world-leading university in sustainability, agriculture, food, and life sciences. From this hub, the Project seeks to steward the Norwegian and Nordic ecosystem of sustainable proteins. Their aim is to build trans-disciplinary capacity and collaboration that bridges academia and industry, and connects research, innovation and markets.

Together with GFI and other collaborators, they work to enable an inclusive win-win transition from industrial animal production towards sustainable proteins. They focus on three main objectives:

1. Build a fun, fulfilling, and inclusive community at NMBU, organising and attending events to generate awareness and excitement about sustainable proteins. This includes meet-ups, seminars, product tastings, facility tours, excursions, and more.

2. Create and support sustainable protein courses, tracks, programmes, and other education to facilitate student engagement and build a passionate workforce for the booming industry.

3. Catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship through an innovation platform on campus (Food Lab), workshops, student challenges, and collaboration with industry and incubators.

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The NTNU Alt Protein Project hopes to recruit students in relevant fields who may be swayed to do work beneficial to sustainable protein innovation. The Project’s main objective is to increase the presence and awareness of sustainable protein knowledge among the students.

To start off, they will run a sustainable protein course, help students connect with sustainable protein companies and organisations, and invite people relevant to the sustainble protein sector to talk to students. The group has already established and will continue to maintain a connection to other Nordic alt protein groups.

University of Oxford

The Oxford Alt Protein Project was founded to connect Oxford’s research expertise with ambitious young minds, propelling innovation, research, and education of sustainable proteins within the community.

Through seminars and discussions with industry experts and NGOs, the Project aims to stimulate discussions and interest from researchers, administrators, and students, establishing Oxford as one of the centres for sustainable proteins.

Utrecht University

The Utrecht Alt Protein Project strives to enable a sustainable and animal-free food supply by creating an impactful research and development hub on alternative proteins.

Utrecht University has a very strong and broad base in life sciences, as well as biophysics and social science. Additionally, the university has a strong sustainability agenda, and food related research and innovation initiatives such as Future Food Utrecht. The university is also in close contact with the Dutch technical research institute TNO, which has historically done impactful research on sustainable proteins.

The Utrecht APP is working to translate this into a central mission statement on sustainable proteins.

Wageningen University and Research

Wageningen University is already an established cornerstone of the Food Research Industry. As a student group, the Wageningen Alt Protein Project’s mission is to help other fellow students to learn more about the amazing opportunities in this field, by providing resources regarding sustainable proteins of all kinds.

The group collaborate with companies to provide insights in the current problems and developments, job opportunities and internships, educational information about the current state of research, and online content such as webinars and podcasts for people to use.

More student resources

Tools for educators

Find research funding

Use the databases below to discover research funding opportunities across Europe.

GFI Europe can support with researchers’ grant applications to external funding bodies. If you are based in Europe, please contact our Research and Grants Manager Stella Child to discuss how we might help.

Research funding database

Research funding database

GFI’s research funding database provides curated grant opportunities for open-access sustainable protein research. Learn how to use this database in this 2-minute tutorial.

Research grants tracker

Research grants tracker

Explore our sustainable protein research grants tracker to discover insights about open-access research across Europe, including what’s being funded, who is funding it, at what levels, and more.

A soy root nodule under a microscope

GFI’s research grant programme

Powered by donations from a small number of generous donors, our research grant programme funds open-access sustainable protein research. Learn about the projects we’re funding and find funding opportunities for your own research.

Research tools

Sustainable protein innovation priorities initiative

Ideas and inspiration

Advancing Solutions for Alternative Proteins (ASAP) is GFI’s database of research gaps, commercial whitespaces, technological needs, and investment priorities along the sustainable protein value chain.

Tools and open-access data

GFI publications and analyses

Plant-based chicken

The Smart Protein Project

GFI is part of this European Commission-funded partnership between 31 organisations across 21 countries, which aims to develop plant-rich foods.

Latest science news

Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge winners unlock €1.8 million in additional funding

Three companies have received a total of €1.8 million from EIT Food to develop innovative products to reduce the cost…

Meet the researcher: making precision fermentation cheese with Etske Bijl

A career spent analysing the chemistry behind milk has given Etske Bijl unique insights to help her develop the world’s…

On the path to net zero: 9 ways the UK can build a ‘world-beating’ sustainable protein ecosystem

Government should invest £78 million annually in research between 2025-2030 as part of its science superpower mission. 

Meet 7 researchers who used GFI research grants to help transform the future of food. Could you be next?

GFI’s 2023 research grant programme is open for proposals. Meet some of the researchers at the cutting edge of this…

A spread of healthy plant-based dishes, including innovative plant based meats that have benefited from government funding

European government funding in sustainable proteins poised to hit half a billion euros, report finds

European governments have announced a grand total of nearly half a billion euros of funding to develop sustainable proteins according…

collaboration on sustainable protein science is essential

6 key priorities to accelerate sustainable protein science

Recent scientific developments in plant-based foods, cultivated meat and fermentation have been incredible, but there is still a huge amount…

Meet the researcher: Finding a deeper way of protecting our oceans with Richard Splivallo

A long-standing passion for the ocean inspired Richard Splivallo’s project – using his fermentation expertise to create better alternative seafood…

Meet the researcher: bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurship with Prof Che Connon

Professor Che Connon’s quest to bring cultivated meat closer to dining tables has led to him bridging the gap between…