Dr Peyman, what are some of the key consumer drivers that are obliging manufacturers to adapt and change their processes and ingredients?
Society is fully aware of the stark realities of climate change. We no longer have a choice but to develop solutions that help to save the planet, and this is what Allozymes is doing. We are designing custom enzymes to develop clean industrial bio-solutions for a variety of consumer products.
In addition, buyers no longer want to engage with a product, be that skincare, food, or perfume, that is chemically produced with artificial ingredients. Consumers know that long lists of ingredients on the back of products, often ingredients they have never heard of, are likely to be unhealthy. Consumers are becoming more open-minded to sustainably developed alternatives, and to being carbon neutral and not hurting the environment.
What are some of the key challenges facing the food sector in adapting to these demands - especially for SMEs?
Climate change is a central theme when discussing sustainable production and the development of industrial bio-solutions. Rising temperatures, water shortages, and a lack of land are challenging current industrial outlooks on productivity, as of course is our growing global population.
While a massive shift in production practices is needed, we can only do so much at once. At Allozymes, we see our role as unlocking new possibilities through enzymatic development. Our plan is to have a database of custom enzymes for a variety of production lanes. The aim is to substantially reduce emissions, and offer sustainable solutions to the food industry.
How much have recent commodity price rises impacted the food sector?
Rising commodity prices have shed new light on the need for resilient and decentralised food production systems.
Allozymes’ technology can power both enzymatic processing and cell-based fermentation production. This can result in more resilient and local food ingredient production, and guard against global supply chain shocks.
Tell me about Allozyme’s solutions for the food industry. The big picture – what are you trying to achieve?
Interestingly enough, the original focus of our technology was pharma, but we recognized the food industry’s need for fast and efficient enzyme processing. In this day and age, all ingredients are manufactured through chemical processes or by extracting them from plants or animals. Chemical processes are highly polluting, and current methods of isolating natural ingredients from plants and animals are also damaging to the environment.
These processes typically use significant volumes of biomass, energy, water, and land, to grow, harvest, process, and extract the tiniest amounts of natural ingredients. At Allozymes, we believe there is a better way. We are on a mission to replace traditional manufacturing methods with cleaner, greener, scalable methods, by unlocking the power of custom-designed enzymes.
And in more detail, what specific solutions can you offer the food sector?
Allozymes microfluidics technology builds millions of enzymes every day, increasing the speed of production of custom enzymes that are used in a variety of outlets.
One way our technology disrupts the industry is through engineering custom enzymes for the biomanufacturing of fibre-derived sugar from industrial lignocellulosic biomass. Lignocellulosic biomass includes rice husks, sugar cane, etc. This results in the development of a fibre-rich and healthier sugar alternative, having lower caloric rates and glycaemic index, lower sugar content, and higher fibre content, without compromising on the sensory and processing properties.
We recently received a $1 million grant to develop a proof-of-concept and scale up development. These engineered enzymes could be tailored towards targeted ingredient profiles for any desired product category or application need.
What are some of the key benefits for the food industry from your solutions?
Not only is Allozymes generating custom-designed enzymes to match customer and market-driven products, we are also completely shifting how these enzymes are discovered. We are revolutionising the entire process from the very start of enzyme production.
I’ll explain briefly how this works. Our platform can build and test millions of enzymes per day, boosting the likelihood of success 200-fold in developing the most effective enzymes. We have developed oxidase, reductases, isomerases, and hydrolases for our customers, ten times faster, compared to robotics technology.
By increasing the speed of development and the probability of success, we are accelerating the speed at which innovative products can be brought to market.
Do you think the food sector is moving in the right direction when it comes to sustainability?
The food industry is on its way to activating sustainability. It's hard to say whether the sector is fully aligned, but you can see the shift in many large corporations, who are taking steps towards adopting more sustainable business plans.
What plans for Allozymes' future can you share with us?
We have much more in store! We are currently working towards becoming the Google of Enzymes through an enzyme database. This means that when an enzyme is desired by a company, instead of going into nature or trying alternative methods to achieve the enzyme they are looking for, they will simply be able to ‘google’ what they are looking for in our database.
This is ground-breaking for biotransformation, and we are excited to take enzyme engineering to the next level.