June 13, 2024

Chi Botanic Inc. Awarded Competitive USDA SBIR Phase I Grant for Plant Cell-Cultured Vanilla

Small Business Innovative Research Program Provides $175,000 in Funding for Chi Botanic’s Sustainable Vanilla Technology

 ChiBotanic Inc. is pleased to announce that its research and commercialization project for a new cell-cultured Vanilla 2.0 technology for a plant-based full-spectrum natural vanilla flavor has been awarded a highly competitive Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I Award of $175,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The proposal, “Vanilla 2.0: A reliable, sustainable, domestic supply of authentic Vanilla planifolia flavor and fragrance,” will help support Chi Botanic’s efforts to solve the many problems facing the natural vanilla supply chain, including a very difficult, laborious, slow-growing agricultural crop limited to tropical climates representing biodiversity hotspots. Political instability and extreme weather in regions where vanilla is grown further contribute to severe price fluctuations.

The technology Chi Botanic is creating will achieve a Vanilla planifolia plant cell culture that can be grown inexpensively anywhere and produce high concentrations of vanillin plus the many other flavor and fragrance metabolites of real vanilla. Major advantages to creation of a plant cell suspension culture specialized for production of the distinctive blend of vanilla phenylpropanoids are as follows:

  • Increased value of a complex, plant-based vanilla product over the inferior synthetic vanillin that makes up 99% of the vanilla flavor on the market today.
  • Unlike other synthetic biology-based methods, the system will provide the sustainability of fermentation-type methods, yet the end-product will be as complex as pure vanilla extract, which the FDA strictly defines as from vanilla seed pods. Thus, the Chi Botanic product will initially be labeled as “natural vanilla flavor” due to the source plant (Vanilla planifolia) from which the culture is derived, though not strictly from seed pods.
  • Economically viable, domestic production with tight control of quality and composition. Co-location with product manufacturing possible.
  • Faster growing, processing, and production times compared to farm-grown vanilla.
  • Over 18,000 products contain vanillin, yet less than 1% is sourced from the plant (Sethi, 2017). Chi Botanic’s own market research with potential enterprise customers has proven an eagerness to assess and willingness to pay a premium for our proposed product, with one of the world’s largest suppliers of vanilla quoted as “dreaming of the day” when this could be possible.

For more information, visit the corporate website at www.chibotanic.com or email [email protected]. Digital photos are available. 

Contact Information:

Jonathan (Jon) Meuser

Chief Executive Officer

[email protected]

510-227-5237

Original Source:

Chi Botanic Inc. Awarded Competitive USDA SBIR Phase I Grant for Plant Cell-Cultured Vanilla

Chi Botanic Inc. Awarded Competitive USDA SBIR Phase I Grant for Plant Cell-Cultured Vanilla
Small Business Innovative Research Program Provides $175,000 in Funding for Chi Botanic's Sustainable Vanilla Technology

 ChiBotanic Inc. is pleased to announce that its research and commercialization project for a new cell-cultured Vanilla 2.0 technology for a plant-based full-spectrum natural vanilla flavor has been awarded a highly competitive Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I Award of $175,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The proposal, "Vanilla 2.0: A reliable, sustainable, domestic supply of authentic Vanilla planifolia flavor and fragrance," will help support Chi Botanic's efforts to solve the many problems facing the natural vanilla supply chain, including a very difficult, laborious, slow-growing agricultural crop limited to tropical climates representing biodiversity hotspots. Political instability and extreme weather in regions where vanilla is grown further contribute to severe price fluctuations.

The technology Chi Botanic is creating will achieve a Vanilla planifolia plant cell culture that can be grown inexpensively anywhere and produce high concentrations of vanillin plus the many other flavor and fragrance metabolites of real vanilla. Major advantages to creation of a plant cell suspension culture specialized for production of the distinctive blend of vanilla phenylpropanoids are as follows:

  • Increased value of a complex, plant-based vanilla product over the inferior synthetic vanillin that makes up 99% of the vanilla flavor on the market today.
  • Unlike other synthetic biology-based methods, the system will provide the sustainability of fermentation-type methods, yet the end-product will be as complex as pure vanilla extract, which the FDA strictly defines as from vanilla seed pods. Thus, the Chi Botanic product will initially be labeled as "natural vanilla flavor" due to the source plant (Vanilla planifolia) from which the culture is derived, though not strictly from seed pods.
  • Economically viable, domestic production with tight control of quality and composition. Co-location with product manufacturing possible.
  • Faster growing, processing, and production times compared to farm-grown vanilla.
  • Over 18,000 products contain vanillin, yet less than 1% is sourced from the plant (Sethi, 2017). Chi Botanic's own market research with potential enterprise customers has proven an eagerness to assess and willingness to pay a premium for our proposed product, with one of the world's largest suppliers of vanilla quoted as "dreaming of the day" when this could be possible.

For more information, visit the corporate website at www.chibotanic.com or email [email protected]. Digital photos are available. 

Contact Information:
Jonathan (Jon) Meuser
Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]
510-227-5237


Original Source: Chi Botanic Inc. Awarded Competitive USDA SBIR Phase I Grant for Plant Cell-Cultured Vanilla