Soybean oil is increasingly being used as a feedstock for renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel in the US, with production of soybean meal (SBM) projected to grow exponentially as a result, potentially leaving the industry with oversupply.
“We were used to the meal being the driver for soybeans and now it has switched to oil being the driver. The question that is being asked is what are we going to do with all the meal?” said April Hemmes, United Soybean Board (USB) Demand Action Chair and a farmer from Iowa.
The Soy Innovation Challenge, launched by the USB last year, is facing that dilemma head on, focusing on boosting soybean meal use and value.
USB said the aim of the competition is to find new soybean meal markets and create additional revenue streams for US soybean farmers. The Yield Lab Institute is a partner in this venture to unlock the private sector potential and identify companies ready to launch new products and incorporate soybean meal as a component.
Four startups, entrepreneurs and research teams, have made it to the final of the contest, selected out of a global application pool of 76.
Brandon Day, COO of The Yield Lab Institute, said: “These challenges offer a mechanism and a source of non-diluted capital, hence the cash prizes. We also offer [the finalists] structured mentorship and networking within an accelerator type of model.”
The competition will see the finalists compete for $170,000 courtesy of USB, mentorship from The Yield Lab Institute’s global network of ag-tech business and technical leaders, $5,000 in in-kind technical services and credits via AWS, and gene-editing, transgenic plant generation/transformation and other services from Solis Agrosciences.
The winner will be announced later this month.
The four finalists are:
Satavie - High quality soy protein concentrate
Satavie is developing a "high-quality" soy protein concentrate, made with "innovative" technology, targeted at feed for piglets and chicks.
Ichthus Unlimited - Soy-based animal feed binders
A key R&D focus of Ichthus Unlimited is to develop soy-based animal feed binders that replace costly alternatives.
SoyKitty – Eco-friendly cat litter
SoyKitty is an eco-friendly, nontoxic cat litter made from soybean coproducts.
POLARISqb - Boosting the digestibility of soy-based ingredients
POLARISqb is using its quantum computing/AI technology to look at large sets of molecules and identify the best one for food and agriculture applications, with it aiming to identify peptides to tackle anti-nutritional factors related to plant-based ingredients. It is developing an anti-trypsin peptidic inhibitor that could prevent gut trypsin from being blocked, to make SBM more digestible.