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Proteins and other bioactive ingredients from side streams and residues


Validate (either at lab scale, or at pilot scale in an industrially relevant environment) a sustainable process to separate and/or convert proteins and bioactive compounds from residual biomass streams originating from biomass production (such as agriculture) and conversion (such as the food/feed industry and biorefineries). The proteins and targeted bioactive compounds have functional properties other than nutritional quality (in the case of food and feed) that are important for dedicated markets. In this context, separation/extraction and/or conversion processes must ensure that the products’ quality and properties are conserved. Proposals need to achieve the appropriate purity of the target molecules and performance in specific application fields to at least match the benchmark technologies.

The industry should actively participate to prove the potential for integrating the developed concepts into current industrial landscapes or existing plants so that deployment of the concepts can be accelerated and scaled up to an industrial level.

Proposals should provide a preliminary assessment of the availability of the sustainably produced feedstock used in the project, considering the possible upscaling of the developed processes.

Proposals should specifically demonstrate the benefits versus the state-of-the-art and existing technologies. This could be done by providing evidence of new processing solutions and new products obtained.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL)1 at the end of the project should be 4-52. Proposals should clearly state the starting and target TRLs. The proposed work should enable the technology to achieve the target TRL within the timeframe of the project.

Proposals should include an environmental assessment using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies, and a cost analysis. Proposals should also include a viability performance check of the developed process(es) based on available standards, certification, accepted and validated approaches.

While the scope of this topic is to provide technical solutions to the challenge, results may contribute to establishing new standards for acceptability of products.

Proposals should include an analysis of the regulatory requirements and product specifications (like taste, nutritional value, genetic modification, solvent used) that may limit the market approval and acceptance of the targeted ingredients or additives. Proposals should also include specification of the health and safety aspects of the resulting products.

Indicative funding: It is considered that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR 2 million to maximally EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

1 Technology Readiness Levels as defined in annex G of the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme:

2 TRL 5 requires that the technology be ‘validated in [a] relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies).’ For industry, this means at ‘pilot scale’ (meaning beyond and larger than ‘at lab scale’), preferably at an industrial site. TRL 4 is at ‘lab scale’.

Proteins and bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids, polyphenols, lipid compounds and prebiotics, have extensive use as ingredients and additives in the food, feed, flavouring, fragrance, cosmetics, chemicals, textile, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries. The projected global demand for proteins and bioactive compounds in 2030 exceeds current production capacities1.

Residual biomass and side streams are potentially interesting sources of these ingredients. As proteins and bioactive ingredients have a typically high value per volume unit, recovering and commercialising them could achieve a sizeable economic benefit for the whole value chain. However, exploitation of these sources for obtaining proteins and bioactive ingredients is still at an early stage.

Some residual streams, such as the non-edible parts of plants, often contain anti-nutritional elements that are not easy to separate and consequently prevent their direct use in food. Other factors may also limit the regulatory compliance and consumer acceptance of food additives based on plant residues.

The specific challenge is to develop sustainable technologies to recover proteins and bioactive ingredients from feedstock or to convert residual biomass and industry side streams into ingredients for food, feed and other high-value markets. The challenge includes achieving the separation/extraction and purification (where applicable) of the proteins and bioactive ingredients to meet the required market specifications and regulations2.


2 For an Innovation Action – Flagship Action on proteins see Topic BBI 2017.F2

  • contribute to KPI 1: create at least 1 new cross-sector interconnection in bio-based economy clusters;
  • contribute to KPI 2: set the basis for at least 1 new bio-based value chain;
  • contribute to KPI 5: set the basis for at least 2 different ingredients or additives with purity levels that enable their use in different application fields, such as the food, feed, flavouring, fragrance, cosmetics, chemicals, textile, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries;
  • set the basis for further development of new or optimised value chains based on residual streams from the food or feed industry, agricultural activities or biorefineries;
  • overall reduction of at least 10 % in the carbon footprint of the considered bio-based operation compared with the state-of-the-art (shown by an LCA taken up in one of the work packages).