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Riddet Institute in New Zealand

Riddet Institute & AgResearch establish new Chair in Cellular Agriculture in New Zealand

The two food research organizations announce they will join forces to create a New Zealand first in cutting-edge research in cultured produce. This refers to the first New Zealand chair in cellular agriculture, which was established on the campus of Massey University in Palmerston North. The position is jointly funded by Massey University and AgResearch.

“Cellular agriculture is a new, breakthrough technology that can produce food ingredients and products from animal cell cultures rather than animals. The emerging field leverages advances in biotechnology and will offer the opportunity to produce protein foods such as dairy or meat-like products in the laboratory,” says Stefan Clerens, Science Group Manager at AgResearch.

Harjinder Singh & Stefan Clerens
Harjinder Singh & Stefan Clerens

The Riddet Institute is a Center of Research Excellence (CoRE) hosted by Massey University and focused on advanced food research, and AgResearch, a Crown Research Institute specializing in livestock and agricultural technology. The two facilities share the state-of-the-art Te Ohu Rangahau Kai research facility in Palmerston North, where the new site will be based.

Collaboration in science and capacity building

The Director of the Riddet Institute, Professor Harjinder Singh, says the new joint function demonstrates the strength of the partnership between AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and Massey University. dr AgResearch’s Clerens says the new professorship will leverage the expertise of both the Riddet Institute and AgResearch to lead in this rapidly emerging area of food science.

“We are partners in CoRE and partners in the building, so it’s a natural next step to also collaborate on advanced science and capability building”

Prof. Singh believes that the field of cellular agriculture is growing rapidly around the world. The Riddet Institute has already carried out significant research activities in the field of cellular agriculture, but also has the new task of further expanding research and training capacities.

“It is extremely important for New Zealand to develop future capacity in cellular agriculture and capitalize on new commercial opportunities. This position will bring together important expertise and collaborations needed to strengthen this research area for New Zealand,” said Singh.

Riddet Institute in New Zealand

Riddet Institute & AgResearch: “We can support science in this area”

dr Clerens emphasizes that while there are several market players attempting to produce laboratory-grown food alternatives, there is limited understanding of the nutritional implications of these products.

“We can support science in this area. We can find out if it’s fully digestible and we understand the biochemistry and how it all comes together in a structure to deliver the functionality that the customer wants,” says Dr. Clerens. “We make the difference. We don’t want to just launch another burger, we want to focus on the processes and the science behind the technology.”

Following the signing of the agreement between the two institutes, the position has now been advertised worldwide. dr Clerens says cellular agriculture is still a niche area and few scientists around the world are qualified in the field.