Catalonia Makes Historic €7M Investment in Alt Proteins Research Center

Catalonia’s Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, and the Institute of Agri-Food Research and Technology (IRTA) have revealed Spain’s first Center for Innovation in Alternative Proteins (CiPA).

With €7 million in funding — believed to be one of the country’s most significant investments made in the sector — CiPA aims to become a leading hub in southern Europe for research and innovation, focusing on ingredients, food, and feed alternatives to animal proteins.

Nonprofit think tank the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI) has praised the Catalan government’s historic investment in advancing alternative proteins and helping companies develop sustainable meat.

Alex Holst, senior policy manager at GFI Europe, said: “This landmark announcement is a major step towards turning Catalonia into one of Spain’s leading hubs for sustainable plant-based and fermentation-made foods.”

Catalonia invest €7 million in CiPA hub to lead alternative protein science in Southern Europe
© Institut de Recerca i Tecnologies Agrolimentàries (IRTA)

Comprehensive approach

The center will offer a comprehensive approach covering the entire value chain, from raw material production to consumer integration. With laboratory research and pilot plants, the center aims to find alternatives to farmed animals by driving advancements in biomass production, plant protein extraction, ingredient functionalization, safety evaluation, and alternative food prototypes.

Moreover, the center will help companies scale up the production of plant-based meat and fermentation-derived foods to deliver the flavor and texture of meat, dairy, and eggs and help consumers adopt plant-based products. 

According to GFI Europe, Spain is the fourth largest retail market for plant-based foods across Europe, with increased sales by 9% between 2020 and 2022 to €447.4 million.

Additionally, CiPA will research food waste and how to transform agricultural surplus and byproducts into nutritious and delicious food, potentially providing new revenue sources for farmers.

Heura Fish
Image courtesy of Heura

Pioneering alt proteins

The CiPA will be distributed throughout the Catalan territory, taking advantage of the facilities and experience of the IRTA scientific staff in research on plant protein, fermentation, algae, and insects. The investment is expected to accelerate the green growth in the Catalan industry and create jobs.

“The region is already home to pioneering alternative protein companies, but this investment will help develop a vibrant Catalan sector capable of producing delicious, affordable foods for the growing alternative protein market, generating highly skilled jobs and export opportunities,” added Holst.

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