"This partnership is a stepping stone to elevate the industry to new heights. In that, we are now seeing the evolution of indoor farming from a solution that was used only to produce food, to one that is being used to produce a new type of food by becoming the carrier of the end-product," says Maarten Vandecruys, Founder and CTO at Urban Crop Solutions (UCS).
UCS, a Belgian vertical farming agtech, has supplied their research and technology to Tiamat Sciences Corp, a biotech company that manufactures animal-free protein by combining biotechnology, vertical farming, and computational design.
Tiamat Sciences is growing biomolecules using plants to replace traditional bioreactors to serve multiple industries. Namely that of cellular agriculture and cultivated meat, as well as regenerative medicine and vaccines.
Next step for vertical farming
"This collaboration has really shown us what the entire journey, from concept to end-use application looks like, and what our value is in this process. We essentially worked with Tiamat to turn their idea, into a high-growth scale-up. This process then only encourages me to reach out to other parties to leverage what we have done here, to optimize their processes and needs."
Maarten explained that this means the community is growing from that of a pure food production industry to an ingredient supplier for the food and pharma industries, and beyond.
According to him, these new types of productions require homogenous, phytosanitary, and controlled conditions for their plants. Urban Crop Solutions is able to leverage the technological advances and improvements of the last years to fully control, monitor, and adjust all parameters that influence plant growth. "The fact that we can micro-steer the entire process, is the key necessary to enter these new market segments."
From potentials to market openings
“We always understood and believed in the potential of indoor farming, and all of the applications in which it could be revolutionary. However, working together with such visionary companies as Tiamat, we no longer have to speak about its potential in such uses – they are putting into practice what we have believed possible for years” explains Dr. Oscar Navarrete, Chief Plant Scientist at UCS.
“We are now seeing more interest from these industries and witnessing the incorporation of our solutions into commercial processes, by way of R&D and new product development” he adds.
Supplying key proteins
The female-owned biotech has wasted little time in proving its salt. After the success of their research trials, carried out at the UCS' research center in Belgium, the company swiftly relocated to North Carolina’s Biotech Triangle and into the US market. They continue their research and development with technology and modules supplied by UCS.
By replacing bioreactors with plants and using fermentation technologies, Tiamat is able to supply key protein at a fraction of the current market value. This is a huge breakthrough, especially for the production of cellular meat in a climate of growing environmental and social awareness.
“Our goal has always been to offer ecological and ethical raw materials to biotechnology companies, public research labs and pharmaceutical actors. However, now we are seeing that the market is truly ripe for our product. We have gotten off to a great start with it – with the success of our research trials, and our expansion into the US. The collaboration with Urban Crop Solutions has been instrumental to our success," said France Emmanuelle-Adil, Founder and CEO of Tiamat.