Digital design and scale-up of bioprocesses for cultured meat production (FoodBioSystems DTP)

The FoodBioSystems Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) brings together six university partners: University of Reading, Cranfield University, University of Surrey, Queen’s University Belfast, Aberystwyth University, and Brunel University London.

The Partnership’s vision is to develop the next generation of bioscientists with in-depth knowledge and technical expertise of food systems and biological processes across the Agri-Food system from pre-farm to post-fork. They will become the urgently needed experts - able to transform the food value chain and address challenges of sustainability, efficacy, authenticity and safety in food production systems whilst delivering better nutrition and concomitant health benefits for society.

Start date
1 October 2021
4 years
Application deadline
Funding source
BBSRC FoodBiosystems Doctoral Training Partnership
Funding information

Funding is for the full 48 months of the studentship with a stipend of £15,609 per annum with annual increases for inflation.

Studentship fees are covered for UK /EU citizens only. Up to 30 per cent of the studentships may be awarded to international students. For international FoodBioSystems DTP studentships based at the University of Surrey, the University will be covering the difference in the UK/Republic of Ireland fees and International Fees for international UKRI funded students.

Full eligibility, funding and application details can be found on the FoodBioSystems DTP page.

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding.


Cultured meat, while enjoying great advocacy for its environmental, health and moral credentials, is still within the R&D phase. A key limiting factor is the cost, which is still not competitive with conventional meat. Therefore, efficient design, scale-up and operation of the production bioprocesses are critical for a viable product. Cultured meat research has largely focused on laboratory studies of the choice of cells, culture medium and bioreactor; however it is unclear how such results could be translated to large-scale production.

Successful scale-up of industrial biotechnology has often relied on computer modelling to understand the constraints on mass/heat transfer and mechanical stress at different scales. Such a digital design approach has led to reduced time and resources in process scale-up with significantly improved production efficiency and reduced costs. Research into model based process design for meat culturing in bioreactors is lacking, and so there is a need for novel research in this area to help alleviate one of the biggest barriers to market, the cost of producing cultured meat.

Aim of the project

The aim of this project is to assess the use of computer modelling to aid the design and scale-up of bioprocesses for cultured meat production. This multidisciplinary project will combine expertise in cell biology (Aberystwyth University), computer-aided bioengineering (University of Surrey) and industrial application (Cellular Agriculture Ltd). The specific objectives are:

  1. Develop and validate a computer model for meat culturing bioprocess at small-scale, based on the laboratory data at Aberystwyth and the state-of-the-art bioreactor at Cellular Agriculture.
  2. Extend the small-scale bioreactor model to larger scales (pilot and full production).
  3. Demonstrate the potential of the developed methodology for scale-up through simulation studies.

Developing unique skills

This multidisciplinary project will develop a unique set of skills in the PhD student to be applied to the AgriFood sector, through creation of an interface between experimental and computational studies for process design and optimisation.

The student will be trained in chemical engineering (computer programming, mathematical modelling and specialised modelling software tools), as well as cell biology (cell culturing, biological analysis and microscopy).

Furthermore, the student will have the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience through a three-month placement at Cellular Agriculture Ltd, a leading start-up company specialising in bioprocess for cultured meat. The student will benefit from Cellular Agriculture’s wealth of experience in the exciting, upcoming industry of cultured meat and links to large scale companies involved in the industry.

The DTP is currently advertising 52 projects. From these, it is expected 26 studentships will be awarded to the strongest application to start their studies in October 2021.

Related links
FoodBioSystems DTP website

Eligibility criteria

We expect successful applicant to hold a BSc degree (with at least UK 2:1 honours, or equivalent) or an MSc degree with distinction in a discipline relevant to the specific project.

This project would be suitable for students with a degree in bioengineering, chemical engineering, tissue engineering or a closely related subject.

This studentship is available for UK and international students.

IELTS requirements: The standard requirement is for a score of 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category, in an IELTLS Academic test taken in the last 2 years. 

How to apply

To apply, please use the FoodBiosystems online application system. References requirements set out in the online application system.

Successful applicants for the Surrey-based studentships will subsequently be required to complete the University of Surrey online postgraduate researcher application.

Interviews will be conducted remotely over Zoom.

Application deadline

Contact details

Tao Chen
02 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686593

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