ISRAELI – Israeli animal-free dairy protein developer Imagindairy has teamed up with Boston-based biotech firm Ginkgo Bioworks to accelerate the introduction of cow-free dairy products.

The partnership, aimed at commercializing Imagindairy’s innovative whey proteins, is supported in part by a joint grant from the Board of Governors of the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

Leveraging Ginkgo Bioworks’ Protein Expression Services and Imagindairy’s expertise in process development and scale-up, the collaboration aims to manufacture animal-free whey proteins at costs comparable to traditional dairy proteins.

Jennifer Wipf, Chief Commercial Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks, expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting the exceptional quality of Imagindairy’s products.

“We’re also honoured to be recognised by the BIRD Foundation. Being awarded this highly competitive grant is a testament to our technical expertise and ability to accomplish this project with Imagindairy,” she said.

“I can speak for the entire team when I say that the samples that Imagindairy has shared are next-level. If the rest of their pipeline is anything like what we’ve tasted, we can’t wait to try what’s next.”

In addition, she emphasized the competitive nature of the grant award, attributing it to Ginkgo’s technical prowess and the potential for success in partnership with Imagindairy.

Imaginary, founded in 2020, seeks to transform the dairy landscape by offering products that emulate the taste and qualities of traditional dairy without relying on cows.

The company utilizes an AI precision fermentation platform to produce cow-free dairy proteins using the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, known for its efficiency in converting feed into proteins.

Ginkgo Bioworks, renowned for its advanced protein expression technology, will collaborate with Imagindairy to enhance microbial strains for more efficient and cost-effective production of high-quality whey proteins.

Eyal Afergan, Co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy expressed confidence in the collaboration’s potential to offer consumers animal-free dairy products that rival traditional options in both taste and affordability.

“We’re proud of this acknowledgement by the BIRD Foundation, as it highlights the importance of further innovation in the alternative proteins field, and our capability to successfully execute this project,” he stated.

“Our process development capabilities and industrial-scale precision fermentation lines will allow us to rapidly scale the optimised strains created with Ginkgo and bring innovative non-whey proteins to the market faster.”

Imagindairy’s achievements include securing the FDA’s GRAS status for its animal-free whey protein in the US and paving the way for new collaborations in the animal-free dairy space.

With plans to enter the Israeli retail market this year, the company aims to deliver on its commitment to providing sustainable and delicious dairy alternatives.

Having raised over US$30 million from various investors, including Danone Manifesto Ventures, Imagindairy is well-positioned to drive significant advancements in the dairy industry.

Afergan emphasized the broader impact of the collaboration, foreseeing a future where consumers worldwide can enjoy animal-free dairy delights that contribute to a more sustainable and ethical food ecosystem.


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