Proteins Of The Future Challenge

Division-Sponsored Student Competition

Organized by IFT’s Protein Division, this competition is created to bring students closer to the advances and challenges of protein innovation currently occurring in the science of food world. By participating in this competition students will:

  • Work on ideas to solve real-life food global problems
  • Enhance their knowledge in food proteins (Functionality, environmental impact, extraction methods, nutritional value, etc.)
  • Apply previous acquired knowledge and teamwork skills
  • Improve presentation skills
  • Gain exposure and prestige

2022 Topics

Students will select one of the five topics listed below. The students will then choose a specific protein/product example for the essay.

  • Topic 1: Environmental impact: Consumers are shifting protein consumption from traditional proteins to alternative proteins, therefore alternative proteins are being used more and more to develop new foods made from more suitable sources. What is the environmental impact of that shift? (Including increased production). Calculate/estimate the environmental impact of a specific product or product category made with an alternative protein(s) replacing a specific product or product category made with a traditional protein(s).
  • Topic 2: Scale up: Many alternative proteins show promising potential to replace traditional proteins in lab-research. In order to use them as food ingredient in the food industry they will need to be extracted and commercialized in much larger volumes. How can lab-based protein extraction scale up to industrial capacities? Use a specific alternative protein and directly compare to current extraction methods of a traditional protein.
  • Topic 3: Functionality: To reach certain textures or other sensorial attributes (like flavor) using alternative proteins is a challenge when developing new foods. Use a specific alternative protein(s) to demonstrate how it can have a similar function (e.g., structural function or sensorial attributes) as a specific traditional protein in the same food product or food product category?
  • Topic 4: Nutritional value: Different proteins have different amino acid composition and different values of digestibility and bioavailability. Propose a food product made with alternative proteins and show how it compares to a similar product made with traditional proteins in terms of essential amino acid composition, digestibility, and bioavailability.
  • Topic 5: Commercial / market research. Commercializing food products made with alternative proteins to the appropriate markets is a challenge. Choose a specific product or product category to show how products made with alternative proteins can impact current and/or future market demands compared to its equivalent or a similar product or product category made with traditional proteins.

Application and Judgement

A panel of experts in food proteins including academic and industry experts from the IFT Protein Division will judge the entries. External international recognized experts in proteins can also be invited to be judges.

The submission will be evaluated based on 5 aspects: relevancy of the addressed problem, scientific merit of the proposed solution, innovation of the proposed solution, practical application of the proposed solution, and quality of the submission.

Competition participants will be notified of their status prior to FIRST 2022, with a general certificate along with monetary prizes of $1,000, $750, and $500 awarded to the first, second and third place winners, respectively. Winners will be recognized at the FIRST 2022 Protein Division social event, and they will be invited to present their idea during the event (5 minutes presentation). Winners will also receive recognition through social media and Protein Division communications.

Application Guidelines

For complete rules and application, please see the Protein Innovation Student Challenge Guidelines.

Download Guidelines


  • Students enrolled in science of food-related programs
  • Must be IFT members
  • Teams of 3-5 students
  • Undergraduate students, graduate students or both together
  • With or without mentor (e.g., professor, industry expert, etc.)

Application Deadline

Entry forms will be accepted until May 13, 2022, via the below entry form.

Entry Form