A deeper dive into NASA’s research led Lisa Dyson to become an innovator leading a multi-million-dollar company.

Call To Action

Dyson founded Air Protein, a startup developing an alternative to animal protein using air fermentation. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, the company drew from NASA’s 1960s research that allowed astronauts to convert carbon dioxide into food.

“A colleague of mine, Dr. John Reed, and I, we were interested actually in carbon recycling here on Earth,” she said during a Ted Talk in 2016. “We wanted to come up with technical solutions to address climate change, and we discovered this research by reading some papers published in the 60s, 1967 and later articles about this work. And we thought it was a really good idea. And so we said, ‘Well, Earth is actually like a spaceship. We have limited space and limited resources, and on Earth we really do need to figure out how to recycle our carbon better. So we have the idea, can we take some of these NASA type ideas and apply them to our carbon problem here on Earth? Could we cultivate these NASA type microbes in order to make valuable products here on Earth? And we started a company to do it.”

Dyson has chosen to be a part of the solution, and her calling was made clear to her following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, her website mentions. She turned her focus towards climate change, which spawned Kiverdi Inc., a biotechnology company that made a product similar to tallow (animal fat) in 2014. Two years later its scientists were able to provide evidence that they could make protein from air.

This foundation laid the groundwork for Air Protein’s founding in 2019, which produced the first air meat, air chicken. In late 2020, Dyson raised $32 million in a funding round led by Barclays, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and ADM Ventures to scale its alternatives and open an innovation R&D lab for product development and commercialization while building out its team, according to Food Dive.

The next year, Air Protein created the first air seafood (scallop and fish) and secured its first meat patent. Additionally, the first air protein farm was launched in San Leandro, CA, in 2023.

Dyson’s goal is to provide a sustainable food source for 10 billion people by 2050, per her LinkedIn.

AFROTECH™ Future 50

We acknowledge Dyson’s efforts as a Future Maker on our AFROTECH™ Future 50 list for her groundbreaking innovation and achievements.

Other categories on the list include Changemakers, Visionary Founders, Dynamic Investors, and Corporate Catalysts who are also shaping a better tomorrow.

To check out the full list, click here.