This combination of things - a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it, and the breakthrough technology to make it happen - is the essence of a moonshot.
Solve for X is intended to be a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork.
David Berry gave a Solve for X talk about radically more efficient nutrition production.
David Berry is a Partner at Flagship Ventures and CEO of Essentient. David has MD and PhD degrees and has founded several life science and sustainability ventures.
How do you do that without using more water that's already on the planet or wrecking the environment?
Berry's answer is to understand the molecular nature of food and create a food source that converts the basic components of food directly into calories and nutrition, instead of having "intermediate steps." Creating nutrients directly at less than a tenth of the cost we see today.
Essentient’s "nutriculture" technique combines protein science, a molecular understanding of nutrition, and low-cost, sustainable production systems, all in an attempt to improve on the agriculture-based system of consuming nutrients that we’ve relied on for thousands of years.
"We took single-cell photosynthetic organisms, and we asked the question, 'Can we find something that has the right features, the ability to live in saltwater, the ability to have a robustness for our process, the ability to withstand the right sorts of thermal tolerances to be productive outside, and the ability to produce at very, very high qualities?" he says. After much searching,
The company already has some products in the pipeline, including one that gives "gold standard nutrition" and tastes like sugar, another that feels and tastes like fat (without the nasty health consequences), one that helps build muscle, and a product that cuts down on appetite. "This is designed to be formulated with food we know today. We have no interest in replacing food," says
They screened several thousand organisms that can work with non-fresh water, CO2 and sunlight and secrete one key nutrient. A continuous process instead of batch and produce pure product (so no high cost purification).
To provide what
- 20 cents per pound and does not use fresh water or land.