How to bag your share of £1.2m in funding, along with prized collaboration with cutting-edged researchers

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Fermenti is passionate about creating an innovative plant-based fermented food that is a joy to the palate and a nourishment for the gut. Pic: Growing Medway & Kent
Fermenti is passionate about creating an innovative plant-based fermented food that is a joy to the palate and a nourishment for the gut. Pic: Growing Medway & Kent

Related tags Growing Kent & Medway Fermenti Funding Sustainability plant-based UK Research and Innovation Technology

Two new funding streams have been made available by Growing Kent & Medway to back UK companies demonstrating standout plant-based innovation.

Thanks to the Growing Kent and Medway Business Innovation Voucher, the founders of Fermenti could take their dream to the next level.

The company’s launch product - freeze-dried bio bites - are made with fermented coconut and fresh fruits, meaning they are rich in live bacteria and fibre to support gut health.

The treats - handmade by graduates from the Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise supporting disadvantaged London women - combines traditional lacto-fermentation with freeze drying tech to gently extract water from the fermented dough under vacuum. This process ensures the 3 Billion CFU from 35 different live cultures remain preserved.

Because it involves harnessing the power of live cultures, the company’s founders - registered dietitian and public health nutritionist Marie-Laure Prevost, Argentinian pastry chef Melina Moggia and business entrepreneur Laura Sanchez - sought out advice from microbiologists from the get-go.

Following its Growing Kent and Medway win earlier this year, the company then got the opportunity to team up with Dr Stacey Duvenage and Dr Robert Fuchs from Greenwich University and food processing expert Dr Parag Acharaya from the Medway Food Innovation Centre.

Up for grabs

Scientist using equipment at Medway Food Innovation Centre (002)
A scientist at Medway Food Innovation Centre.

This prized collaboration opportunity - as well as a share of the £1.2m pot - is again on offer to UK businesses with standout ideas. Awarded competitively, successful projects must focus on sustainability. This could be reducing carbon emissions or minimising waste in the supply chain, for example.

Applicants can be registered anywhere in the UK but will need to work with an organisation in the Kent and Medway region.

Growing Kent & Medway is inviting submissions - open until 24 January 2024 - for two new funding streams:

The Prototyping and Demonstrator Fund will provide £750,000 towards new technologies. Grants will range from £50,000 to £150,000 to be used to develop and test prototypes and demonstrators, ultimately leading to the commercialisation of new products.

Business Innovation Vouchers of between £10k and £30k are designed to provide businesses with 50% of their costs for research projects with NIAB, the University of Kent or the University of Greenwich. This is the second round of this initiative, following a successful first round that saw winners announced in February, among which was Fermenti.

Sustainable plant-based innovation

Innovation EtiAmmos
Pic: GettyImages

“Kent and Medway are leading the way in innovative and sustainable horticultural food and drink production,”​ said Dr Nikki Harrison, programme director for Growing Kent & Medway.

“Our two new funding streams offer businesses nationwide the opportunity to collaborate with some of the cutting-edge research organisations and forward-thinking businesses based in the region.

“We were impressed with the novel ideas awarded in our first wave of Business Innovation Vouchers and are excited to fund more pioneering projects with this next round of vouchers.The second competition is our new Prototyping and Demonstrator Fund, which is designed to help bring ground-breaking technologies closer to market.

“In addition, we are opening up the eligibility for these grants to businesses across the UK who wish to collaborate with businesses and researchers in Kent.”

The two new funding streams are the latest in a series of sustainability grants provided by Growing Kent & Medway, which, to date, has awarded over £2.75m to 29 projects.

“This latest round of grants will support working prototypes and demonstrators to speed new products and services to market,”​ said Julian Bowrey, innovation lead for UK Research & Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund, which supports Growing Kent & Medway.

“UKRI is working closely with Growing Kent & Medway to help fund more innovative companies in the region. We’re looking forward to more great ideas coming forward”.

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