Ouro Foods is researching advanced 4D tissue engineering technologies to biofabricate plant- and cell-based food for health applications. Led by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Chief Technology Officer Dr. Hakan Gurbuz, and Chief Culinary Officer Craig Dewar (professional chef), the company’s vision is to create a new, customizable protein that is: nutritionally superior to plant- and cell-based meat, 30x faster to produce and scale than current alt-protein technology, endlessly customizable for health-impaired and diet-restricted individuals, exceptionally delicious without having to be identically analogous to animal-based meat and climate-friendly to produce and distribute.
Working with their parent company, Ourobionics, a specialized bioprinting company, Ouro Foods will utilize the technologies of 3D bioelectrospraying, 3D cell-electrospinning, microfluidic gradient bioprinting, and electrohydrodynamic jetting of cells to biofabricate 1cm cubed food structures in under one minute. The technology can also reach a nanoscale (50nm) resolution for better food texturing ability. The technologies’ protective effect on cells’ metabolic and pluripotent properties make it highly scalable.
“If we 3D print food using existing extrusion bioprinting technology, it takes very long and cannot reach the level of making nanoscaffolding either. So it’s incredibly hard to scale. It would take football fields full of extrusion bioprinters to scale at industrial level. It’s interesting as advances in volumetric wouldn’t be possible as resin-based materials aren’t edible,” says Stephen Gray, co-founder of Ourobionics.
Ouro Foods is working in phases, starting with plant-based protein for a distinct population segment. By 2026, the company aims to have a hybrid plant/cell-based protein to offer to a general market.
Ouro Foods’ first product, Taste+, is a delivered meal kit solution that is comparable to Blue Apron (an American ingredient-and-recipe meal kit company) but with the differentiating factor being that Taste+ is for outpatient cancer patients experiencing common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
According to Elizabeth Bennett, “More than 50% of adults and children undergoing cancer treatment become taste-impaired (dysgeusia) or have food aversions that cause them to not eat and eventually lose crucial weight. On their palates, regular food tastes too salty, bitter, sweet, or sour, or has too strong of a smell.”
Each Taste+ meal kit includes a chef-created original recipe and safely-packaged ingredients for a light-cooking/assembly-only meal. At the center of each meal is a plant-based, complete protein that Ouro Foods will create using their patent-pending, advanced 3D and 4D tissue engineering and bioprinting technologies. In the kit, the protein will arrive vacuum-packed to be sous vide in boiling water, just like making pasta.
“What’s special about this protein is that it ‘corrects’ for flavors, aroma, and mouthfeel on a variety of taste-impaired palates. We like to say that we’ll give patients their taste back.” says Elizabeth Bennet.
Ouro Foods Taste+ Meals solve for the problems of caregiver convenience, taste impairment, and microbial safety for immunocompromised individuals using technology that’s been fully developed and robustly tested in the health sector by Ourobionics.
Currently, Ouro Foods is fund-raising to produce the proof of concept for their Taste+ meals.