Moon­shots

Green Din­ner

Newsweek International - - Contents - BY JU­LIANA PIG­NATARO @julie_pig­nataro

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the 50th an­niver­sary of NASA as­tro­nauts land­ing on the moon, Newsweek is spot­light­ing pioneers in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, high­light­ing their very own moon­shots and how they hope to change the world.

Giuseppe Scionti, the 33-year old founder and CEO of No­vaMeat, a Span­ish bio­engi­neer­ing startup, is on track to cre­ate steak made solely out of plant­based in­gre­di­ents that mim­ics the tex­ture, taste and nu­tri­tional prop­er­ties of beef us­ing a patented cus­tom­ized 3D printer. His in­spi­ra­tion to merge biotech­nol­ogy with food tech­nol­ogy stemmed from his work as a tis­sue en­gi­neer and his knowl­edge of the neg­a­tive ef­fects of an­i­mal farm­ing on cli­mate change.

Scionti has been deemed the in­ven­tor of the world’s first 3D-printed plant­based meat sub­sti­tute.

What is your moon­shot?

My moon­shot is cre­at­ing a plant-based beef­steak that will ri­val real meat in taste, tex­ture and ap­pear­ance.

Can you de­scribe the prod­uct you’re work­ing on?

To cre­ate this kind of plant-based beef­steak, you need a new gen­er­a­tion of tech­nol­ogy. That’s what No­vaMeat and I have cre­ated. It is true patent-pend­ing tech­nol­ogy based on mi­cro-ex­tru­sion, which means that we blend the plant and our plant-de­rived in­gre­di­ents. The pro­teins that come from the plant sources can ac­quire prop­er­ties sim­i­lar to ones found in meat—its tex­ture, taste, and ap­pear­ance. We want to cre­ate some­thing nu­tri­tious so that it can truly serve as an al­ter­na­tive to a beef­steak.

Why is this dif­fer­ent from other meat al­ter­na­tives?

In the U.S., there are al­ready some very good ex­am­ples of meat al­ter­na­tives, es­pe­cially in the field of burg­ers, such as the Im­pos­si­ble Burger and the Be­yond Meat burger. But they can­not re­place the tex­ture of a piece of fi­brous meat. Others suc­ceed with the tex­ture of a piece of meat, but not the taste. With the mi­cro-ex­tru­sion tech­nol­ogy I patented, the fi­brous va­ri­ety of plant­based in­gre­di­ents re­tains both.

What does it taste like?

Right now, the taste is still sim­i­lar to those with plant-based in­gre­di­ents be­cause we have been fo­cus­ing on the other prop­er­ties. We got the tex­ture right, and now we are work­ing on the ap­pear­ance. We demon­strated that we can in­clude a va­ri­ety of in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing those nec­es­sary for taste. This will get us to our end prod­uct, with all the prop­er­ties of a beef­steak.

What was your in­spi­ra­tion?

I was work­ing in tis­sue engi­neer­ing on bio­med­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions us­ing bio­print­ing. I wanted to try to pro­tect our planet by ap­ply­ing those engi­neer­ing skills so that any­one who wanted could de­crease the amount of meat in their diet.

What have you learned from others who have tried to tackle sim­i­lar prob­lems and projects?

I have al­ways ad­mired peo­ple who tried to change the world; even the in­no­va­tors in the Mid­dle Ages were try­ing for a moon­shot! One of my fa­vorites was Leonardo da Vinci. You can ap­ply in­no­va­tion to change, like try­ing to achieve a zero-waste econ­omy and sus­tain­abil­ity of live­stock. If we wait too long, there will be con­se­quences for the planet that we can no longer solve. For ex­am­ple, I think around 200 an­i­mal species be­come ex­tinct ev­ery day!

How close are you to suc­cess?

I feel that in­no­va­tion can pro­vide al­ter­na­tives for con­sumers, food cor­po­ra­tions and gov­ern­ments. Plant­based sub­sti­tutes are grow­ing very fast now. Maybe in the next 20 years, 30 per­cent of all meat con­sumed may ac­tu­ally be a meat sub­sti­tute. But it isn’t only the tech it­self; you also need to change aware­ness, which comes from in­for­ma­tion. Peo­ple around the world have ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion now that they didn’t have a few years ago. In Sweden, for ex­am­ple, they started “Fri­days for Fu­ture” strikes where young peo­ple in schools strike weekly for cli­mate aware­ness. I be­lieve not only in my project, but in try­ing to sup­port other projects and to in­duce changes.

Who are your men­tors?

I have men­tors from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines. In the gas­tro­nom­i­cal field, the chefs at two very im­por­tant restau­rants in Barcelona—Terranova and El Celler de Can Roca—were very help­ful. In medicine, the per­son with the most im­pact on me is a Span­ish pro­fes­sor, An­to­nio Cam­pos, an in­no­va­tor in the tis­sue-engi­neer­ing field.

How do you pic­ture the world in 20 years if you suc­ceed?

My dream would be to change the world, not by solv­ing the prob­lem of the food in­dus­try, but by get­ting young peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in in­no­va­tive projects that can change the world for the bet­ter. This is what I would like to see in a few years and this is where I would like to par­tic­i­pate.

FRIES WITH THAT? Scionti (be­low left) was in­spired by his work in tis­sue engi­neer­ing to de­velop patented 3D printed plant-based meat that looks and tastes—and cooks up—just like a real steak.

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