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SBIR Phase II: Harnessing Untapped Food-borne Microbial Diversity to Rationally Engineer Novel Healthy Foods
Phone: (513) 470-5728
Phone: (513) 470-5728
The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation (SBIR) Phase II project is to develop a microbial starter culture that allows beverage manufacturers to produce a low-sugar, shelf-stable, nonalcoholic fermented beverage. This solves urgent challenges with existing products (e.g. kombucha, which is high in sugar and requires refrigerated distribution) and enables beverage manufacturers to replace unhealthy and artificially produced sodas ($40B+ market) with fermented and naturally produced versions. In addition, this proposal will develop underlying capacities to design new microbial communities (consortia of multiple microbes) that can work together and perform better than state-of-the-art single strains. This technology has important applications across food manufacturing, but also in other disparate verticals, such as manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, waste remediation and more. The proposed project will continue the technical development and commercialize a novel starter culture that can be used to produce a shelf-stable, low sugar fermented beverages. A large biobank of food-borne microbial strains will be generated and screened utilizing next-generation metagenomic and metabolomic approaches. Novel microbial community compositions will be assembled, tested and refined from a large design space, relying on new ecological design and statistical approaches. The communities will be optimized for taste, flavor and fermentation speed and resilience. Final starter culture candidates will be advanced and validated in successively larger fermentation scales, and the ultimately output of this work will be a novel lyophilized microbial starter culture product line that will be supplied and licensed to commercial beverage manufacturers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *