Nestle is teaming up with Nuritas, a Dublin-based company which, according to their website, combines genomics and artificial intelligence in an effort to “tackle the health challenges facing the world of today as well as the world of tomorrow.”
In December 2017, Nuritas raised $20 million in its first round of funding, the Irish Times reported. U2’s Bono and The Edge, for example, are among the company’s most prominent investors.
The recently announced collaboration with Nestle might signify a historic opportunity for the world of AI-powered biotech. Nestle is, according to Forbes, the world’s largest food and beverage company.
“At Nuritas, our mission is to positively impact billions of lives worldwide and we therefore are delighted to be collaborating with Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, on such an important project,” said Dr Nora Khaldi, founder and chief scientific officer of Nuritas, Silicon Republic reported.
Nuritas and Nestle will use artificial intelligence to find bioactive peptides in food. Bioactive peptides are thought to be effective in managing diseases such as diabetes.
According to Labiotech, Europe’s most popular digital media covering the biotech industry, Nuritas’ approach is made up of three stages.
The first phase consists of defining the health condition being targeted. The basis of the second key stage is artificial intelligence. Nuritas’ AI predicts the food-derived peptides meant to treat a specific disease. In the third and final phase, the peptide is “unlocked” from the food source, and ready to be used therapeutically.
Nestle’s role in this partnership seems to be pretty clear. The world’s largest food and beverage company will use its resources and scientific know-how to validate Nuritas’ findings.
“As our understanding of food and nutrition continues to grow, our global research and development network is looking ahead to discover how we can help enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future for everyone,” Richard Stadler from the Nestle Research Centre said, Silicon Republic reported.
However, things are not black and white.
Corporate Research Project, a non-profit organization focused on analyzing industries and companies, called Nestle “one of the most controversial companies in the world.”
During the mid-1970s Nestle was accused of marketing and selling infant formula in third world countries, causing health problems. In the 1990s Nestle was accused of selling cheap and impure water in countries such as Pakistan.
The corporation has also been accused of spying on critics, violating human rights, contributing to global warming, and hurting the environment. The International Labor Rights Forum named Nestle one of the “five worst companies for the right to associate.”