SPAIN – The global alternative dairy industry has received a major boost in the form of a dedicated accelerator program for supporting start-ups disrupting the milk value chain.

The program, Mylkcubator, is being championed by Spanish dairy specialist Pascual and will be run by the group’s new Corporate Venture unit, Pascual Innoventures.

The program aims to recruit ten startups, entrepreneurs or scientific projects, with innovative dairy solutions within the following spaces: cell-based, fermentation based and applied technologies.

“The goal is to identify those startups that can create cell-based milk with at least the same nutritional value of traditional milk if not superior,” said Sejal Ravji, director of Pascual Innoventures.

A high-level global incubation program

The first edition of Mylkcubator will last six months, from selection to the demo day.

“The selected start-ups shall expect a high-level global incubation methodology coupled with expert mentoring in all areas pertaining to market; distribution and go to market; pilot programs and potential collaborations with large food corporations as industrial design partners,” Ravji details.

“As part of the program the startups will be introduced to a global network of international funds and investors.”

The startups will then receive an early stage investment from Pascual Innoventures with the objective of incorporating them into its future business operations.

Eatable Adventures, a prominent global food-tech accelerator, is lending support to Pascual in this program as a strategic partner.

A novel way of producing milk

Using mammalian cells to produce sustainable milk is deemed a viable route to curbing the agri-food sector’s ecological footprint.

“Several components of milk are lost during the pasteurization process, these new processes could help recover these nutrients,” Ravji explains.

“Milk is used as an ingredient in many food and pharmaceutical products. These biosynthetic processes will help create these ingredients in a more sustainable way.”

However, the costs involved with this novel production method are still deemed a significant barrier to commercial success.

The other challenge is associated with the go-to-market approach, finding applications for these ingredients that can enhance current production and create novel products.

“Right now the biggest challenge for the cell-based milk emerging technologies is the possibility to scale the production from laboratories to industrial volumes, from a batch production to a continued production,” says Ravji.

Despite the challenges, the potential of the alternative milk protein sector is immense and has already attracted players like TurtleTree and Biomilq

TurtleTree cultivates naturally-occurring compounds found in breast milk for applications in infant, adult and specialized nutrition while Biomilq specializes in mammary cell-cultured human breast milk.

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