The European Union's EIT Food organization awarded the "Innovation Impact Award" to a project led by the Technion, with Amai Proteins, PepsiCo and Danone, for the development of a healthy protein-based sugar substitute
The European Union’s EIT Food organization awarded the “Innovation Impact Award” to a project led by Prof. Yoav D. Livney of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Amai Proteins and the global Danone and PepsiCo companies.
The EIT Food Innovation Impact Award was given to them for the development of a healthy sugar substitute based on the smart enhancement of sweet proteins found in tropical fruits. The name of the project is “Sugar-Out, Prote-In, Application of Microencapsulated Sweet Proteins as Sugar Substitutes.”
Amai Protein produces designer proteins using computational protein design and production through precise fermentation. Since these proteins are between 4,000 and 11,000 times sweeter than sugar, they can be used in minute amounts hence would be more affordable than sugar per sweetness unit. Furthermore, they have glycemic value of 0 and do not adversely affect the population of intestinal bacteria (the microbiome).
The winning technology is based on adding natural food ingredient agents – termed MicroPatching agents – or other food ingredients to produce a protein flavor as similar as possible to that of sugar. This should result in a significant reduction of sugar consumption, which is harmful not only to human health – most obviously in obesity and the development of metabolic syndrome – but also to the environment, and is unsustainable. The new technology uses more environmentally friendly production processes than the traditional sugar industry.
The researchers tackled several challenges including improving the taste and eliminating an aftertaste; protein stability; competitive pricing and adverse health effects. According to Prof. Livney, “winning the Impact Award will help us advance towards commercialization of the technology and consequently reduce sugar consumption in Israel and around the world.”
According to Dr. Ilan Samish, founder and CEO of Amai Protein, “the multidisciplinary R&D project led by the Technion allows us to combine groundbreaking technologies with applied R&D from leading international beverage and food companies for the purpose of introducing a product that consumers really long for.”