Through the Innovate UK Better Food for All competition, 47 winning projects will each receive a share of £17.4 million to improve food quality, create functional foods, boost nutrition, develop new proteins, and extend the shelf life of healthy and fresh foods.
The growing issue of diet-related diseases is causing higher healthcare costs due to more people being affected. Poor diet plays a major role, contributing to chronic diseases and a significant portion of cancer cases. Obesity rates are very high in the UK, with projected costs for the NHS at £9.7 billion by 2050 and society at nearly £50 billion annually.
The UK food industry has a chance to make a positive impact on this problem. By creating innovative products and solutions, it could both address these health challenges and generate substantial profits for companies in the sector.
Innovations for a healthier tomorrow
The innovations being developed range from plant-based protein-packed fruit and vegetable smoothies to advanced packaging techniques that increase food shelf-life while reducing waste, as well as salt alternatives and drinks designed to improve gut health.
Below are those among the 47 winners.
Xampla developed innovative vitamin D microencapsulation technology that enables fortification of soft drinks. With Britvic, Xampla will scale the manufacturing, enabling affordable and widespread vitamin D fortification.
Biopolymer Solutions Limited
Biopolymer Solutions Limited aims to advance the application of healthy, sustainable, UK grown, broad bean-based protein, for a range of plant-based food and meat alternatives.
Adamo Foods: ‘Mycoprotein’ (protein from fungi) is a healthier meat alternative with huge potential due to its exciting taste and texture qualities similar to meat. Adamo Foods and the University of Nottingham are working on intelligent ways to boost nutritional content even further.
By experimenting with the fungi’s naturally occurring processes during fermentation, they hope to further increase specific nutrients of interest for plant-based diets such as protein, vitamin B12 and iron.
Driving transformational change
Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology George Freeman MP said:
We are on the cusp of an innovation revolution in the agri-food sector set to herald not only a new era of sustainable low-chemical, low-carbon agriculture, but also a new era of health and wellbeing for our nation through better dietary interventions, gut health and nutraceutical treatments.
Obesity, diabetes, and the other big cardio and metabolic disease place immense strain on our NHS. By harnessing the potential of agri-food and nutrition science we can reverse these trends, and tackle other huge challenges facing society today from climate change to feeding a growing global population.
By continued investment in research and development, collaborating with industry leaders, and creating an environment where agri-food innovators can thrive, we will ensure that UK leadership in agri-food is at the forefront of our science superpower mission, to shape a brighter, more sustainable future for our nation.
Dr Stella Peace, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:
These projects showcase the extensive range and quality of innovation within the agri-food sector of the UK. With global challenges like food security, sustainability, and nutrition, creative solutions are needed to make a tangible impact.
At Innovate UK, we are committed to driving transformational change in food production and manufacture to shape the future economy and society as a whole.
This project will test the feasibility of innovative and ‘functional yogurt or smoothies’ combined with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, as well as using innovative technologies/processes, to improve nutrition and enhance quality.
Optimisation of the health benefits of tea fermentation, and provide evidence relating to physiological changes from Kombucha consumption and links to improved physical or emotional health.
Adamo Foods Limited
‘Mycoprotein’ (protein from fungi) is a healthier meat alternative with huge potential due to its exciting taste and texture qualities similar to meat. Adamo Foods and the University of Nottingham are working on intelligent ways to boost nutritional content even further.
By experimenting with the fungi’s naturally-occurring processes during fermentation, we hope to further increase specific nutrients of interest for plant-based diets such as protein, B12 and iron.
Advanced Growers Limited
Algreen has developed 100% biobased spray that replaces cling film to cover food, slowing the deterioration, aiming to double the shelf life of that product.
Antler Bio (UK) Limited
Further development of our herd screening platform for dairy farmers, EPIHERD, to improve the nutritional qualities and nationwide health benefits of cow’s milk.
Bell and Loxton Innovations Limited
Many agricultural and food processing techniques generate waste, we are developing a circular economy ingredient that helps maintain strength and independence in an ageing population.
Biovit will carry out first-of-its-kind research and development (R&D) to assess the relative bioavailability and efficacy of plant-derived vs synthetic nutrients and to develop plant-derived multi-nutrient blends for use in food manufacture.
Brunel University London
The project focuses on improving the nutritional composition, protein digestibility and bioavailability of plant-based products through a combination of ingredient selection and processing techniques.
Crop Health and Protection Limited
This project will improve the quality, nutritional content and shelf life of strawberries by developing technologies to monitor and influence bumblebee behaviour on strawberry farms.
Dyson Farming Limited
Exploring whether it possible to develop a protein product or ingredient, profitably and sustainably that is derived from a commercially grown UK crop.
Funki Drinks Limited
We aim to make a new science-backed soft drink enriched with a proven fibre blend to support gut health. This offers a tasty and affordable way for the UK to meet their daily 30g fibre goal.
We are exploring how we can effectively increase the level of key nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in vertically farmed crops, to improve national health.
Good Pulse Foods Limited
‘Cheese from Peas’ is a project focused on physical processing of legume seeds to improve functionality of flours for making cheeses from pulses.
Jenton International Limited
The UV-TOP project aims to enable microbiological decontamination of food powders by utilising germicidal ultraviolet light while meeting the strict food and operational safety standards.
Addressing public health and iron-deficiency anaemia, Kyomei is pioneering precision bred vegetables and lettuce for added human-absorptive iron enhancing human diet naturally without iron supplements.
Little Origins Limited
Little Origins and the National Centre for Food Manufacturing won £360,000 to develop radically improved, nutrient-dense baby food through regenerative agriculture, minimal processing and re-usable packaging.
Mitocholine has developed a novel optimised formulation of natural compounds as a food supplement proven to promote the body and mind for healthy ageing and more.
This project is developing innovative functional ingredients to boost the food and drink choices by diversifying nutritional therapies for type-2 diabetes and gut health.
Queen Margaret University Edinburgh
The SALT-SUST project aims to develop a new sustainable salt replacer which would contribute to reducing salt intake while maintaining the quality of food products.
Seaweed Generation Limited
Artificial intelligence robotics company Seaweed Generation and Microgrow are developing an automated method of producing and deploying high protein seaweed spores for ocean based seaweed aquaculture.
Sheffield Hallam University
The project will develop and trial an innovative heating system for the company’s sauces which aims to reduce carbon impact while enhancing nutrition and quality.
University of Chester
NutriNano will create a stable algal oil-derived nano-emulsion of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids using selected processing technologies for improved bioavailability and increased shelf-life.
University of Leeds
Working with industries, SusProFood will solve off-flavour issues of plant proteins enabling sustainable formulation of plant protein-rich fruit and vegetable smoothies using innovative colloidal technology developed at University of Leeds.
The University of Sheffield
The project aims to mitigate chronic diseases such as age-related macular disorder by addressing the feasibility of developing carotenoid-enriched foods, known for their health benefits.
Vegetable Consultancy Services (UK) Limited
The project will investigate innovative post-storage solutions for carrots and parsnips to reduce crop waste and nutrient breakdown, ensuring nutrient-rich and affordable produce.
Agroceutical Products Limited
Addressing the challenge of decreased gastrointestinal tract health and age-related cognitive decline with dietary supplements (PoZibio and Cerbella), in a randomised, blinded, parallel trial with elderly participants.
Arborea, a developer of cutting-edge bioprocesses for photosynthetic microorganisms, is collaborating with world-leading experts in food production, Campden BRI, to develop new functional protein products and capitalise on Arborea’s rapid, low-cost and sustainable technology for the production of high quality proteins.
BioMara, Abertay University and Macphie collaborative development of a seaweed-based healthy functional food ingredient tested in industrial facilities and human trials.
Biopower Technologies Limited
The project will address societal needs for improved health through nudge-nutrition utilising new food side-stream derived ingredients to create beneficial nutritional changes to consumer products.
Cambridge Glycoscience Limited
Nutriboost helps turn agricultural by-products like wheat straw into replacements for sugar and flour for abundant, healthier foods: better for everyone, better for the environment.
Field Doctor Limited
I Boxit Limited
Our project will replace polystyrene packaging used in the fishing industry with bio-composite boxes and reduce waste by using natural anti-microbial materials that prevent spoilage.
Jnck Bakery Limited
Kendal Nutricare Limited
Magellan Life Sciences Limited
We are developing sustainable packaging materials aimed to extend food and drink shelf-life, reducing waste and widening access to healthy nutritious diets across the UK.
Mildtech UK Limited
Mildtech’s revolutionary technology can cook or dry up to 250kg per hour using low temperatures, ensuring maximum retention of nutrients via a significantly quicker and more energy efficient method.
Modern Baker Limited
Transferring the positive impact of the ‘alternative-nutrition’ clean-label ingredient platform technologies embodied in Modern Baker Superloaf, into multiple ultra-processed food categories, without organoleptic compromise.
OSY Group (previously OneSpray Limited)
An antimicrobial coating applied to food packaging, for the purpose of extending food shelf-life and thus reducing food waste.
Phynova Group Limited
Reducose is a mulberry extract proven to lower blood sugar. Phynova will create a food-friendly version to mix into foods, making them healthier without affecting taste.
PM Corporation Limited
Shipton Mill Limited
Increasing the nutrient content of white flour through milling innovation, grain selection and blending. This will reduce waste and the need for additives and fortification.
Stars UK R&D Limited
STARS® x University of Leeds bring a highly skilled consortium together to create a delicious STARS® burger with the taste, texture and mouthfeel of a beef (using regionally available whole foods).
Wilbo’s Blends Limited
Wilbo’s Blends is developing the first 100% real food solution for tube feeding in the UK, to support access and use of the blended diet.
Biopolymer Solutions Limited
The project aims to advance the application of healthy, sustainable, UK grown, broad bean based protein, for a range of plant-based food and meat alternatives.
Xampla has developed innovative vitamin D microencapsulation technology that enables fortification of soft drinks. With Britvic, we will scale the manufacturing enabling affordable and widespread vitamin D fortification.
Top image: Credit: Adam Gasson