Embracing open source and open science

At Final Foods we have made the choice to embrace the open source and open science movement, that is to document and share the products and the solutions we develop in an open fashion for everyone to use. If in fact the goal is to have an impact in the way alternative food proteins are produced, and considering how unsustainable and horrific animal farming has become, we just do not have the time for anything else. Open source software disrupted the way software is developed in the 80's thanks to visionaries like Richard Stallman, the GNU project that he launched, and the Free Software Foundation he founded.

For animal farming to go away, there must be know-how, simple processes and affordable equipment widely available for anyone with the desire and commitment to do so, to use precision fermentation to make functional proteins in existing facilities. I believe that the open source and open science movement will soon provide the "operating system" for making alternative proteins production as straightforward as it is to make yogurt, beer or wine. I do not imply that making beer or wine is simple, but the processes, the science and the equipment needed are well known and do not require a PhD degree for an entrepreneur or an enthusiast with limited resources to get started.

The problem is that fermenting wine and beer has been done for thousands of years, and we do not have this much time at our disposal. Interestingly enough, even large corporations, and including the ones that are oblivious to any destruction and abuse of natural resources, understand this and are now anxious to catch the wave. One more reason to develop openly, contain damage that could otherwise be done by some corporations, and confine them on the marketing and branding aspect of it.

Some well funded startups in the alt-protein space are aggressively pursuing patents and have probably spent more time doing that than trying to make real and affordable food products. For all investors out there who keep asking about intellectual property protection, my answer is that life, DNA, water, food and natural resources cannot be patented, it is just plain immoral. Moreover, obtaining a recombinant DNA organism that can produce a decent amount of functional proteins, does not require a large investment, and suitable strains for alternative proteins will soon become commodities. In other words, all this effort and money to tweak the system in the pursue of immoral patents, will vanish as result of the commoditization of recombinant proteins, and the impact of open science and open source processes. The same happened with the GNU Operating System - also known as Linux - and a myriad of other open source software, that have become a better option to proprietary operating systems for enterprise, servers on the Internet and personal computers.

We invite other startups to embrace open source, entrepreneurs and food tech enthusiast to see the future this way. On our side, as we start introducing our first products this year, we aspire to add value by figuring out simple processes, and providing affordable training, material, cloud services and low-cost equipment for anyone with passion and commitment to start making alternative proteins and food.