Alternative Protein

Excellence in Alternative Protein Technology

The Triangle Region Excels in
Agriculture Technology

The region has strong research institutions with extensive agriculture, biotechnology, and food science programs. These institutions are ideal partners for alternative protein companies developing plant-based protein, cellular agriculture, microbial proteins, and cultivated meat. These alternative protein companies seek to develop and refine their products and hire the best and most highly educated talent. For example, 95% of NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Science students graduate in AgTech (Source: NC State CALS)

Innovation Spotlight: Tasting the Future

At Atlantic Fish Co, CEO Doug Grant recounts the journey his company undertook, culminating in the development and his personal tasting of the world’s first cultivated black sea bass, a pioneering achievement by his team in partnership with the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL).


Government + Legacy

Another significant advantage of operating an alternative protein company in the Triangle region is the proximity to government officials and support from the state legislature. While no legislation has been passed for alternative protein products in North Carolina, in 2019, the FDA and USDA announced a joint agreement to regulate “cell-based meat products.” This agreement demonstrates federal support for a segment of the alternative protein sector, greenlighting state support. 

The Triangle region also has abundant resources, a long history of agriculture, and a wealth of lab-based initiatives that alternative protein companies can leverage.

Source: USDA 

At a Glance


Agtech Companies


Dollar Economy


Lab Access Across the State

Source: NC Biotech Center 

The Triangle Ecosystem–
The Right Combination

The Triangle ecosystem has a growing list of companies focused on biotechnology, food science, and sustainability. This ecosystem provides alternative protein companies access to cross-trained, high-caliber talent, capital, advocacy, and mentorship. Within the Triangle region, Wild Earth is innovating around plant-based dog food, Improved Nature created a soy protein for plant-based meat, Believer Meats uses cell-cultivation technology for cultivated meat, and Pearlita Foods uses cellular agriculture for seafood.

Copy of Rachel-Vann-DJ-Stokes-field

Did You Know?



Did you know the NCFIL is the only facility in the U.S. with cGMP capabilities?

The NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL), managed by NC State University, is a catalyst for advancing alternative protein-based food and now offers technology around precision and animal proteins. 



North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is one of the most revered education programs in the world.



NC State’s Rodolphe Barrangou is credited with pioneering the discovery of the adaptive bacterial immune system known as CRISPR, resulting in a patent for commercialized cheese and yogurt fermentation.

“There’s a lot of focus on food here (the Triangle region),” says Nikita Michelsen, owner of Pearlita Foods. “I think it’s the hub for alternative protein, biotech, and new food innovation.”

- Nikita Michelsen, Pearlita Foods*