The two firms hope to discover new bitter blockers in order to allow food and beverage manufacturers to mask the bitterness in certain soy-based products.
According to Solae and Senomyx, their innovation efforts could improve the nutritional value of foods by allowing manufacturers to add more protein and use less sugar, salt and fat.
"Consumers refuse to compromise taste for wellness," said Jonathan McIntyre, vice president of research and development at Solae.
"To satisfy consumers, food manufacturers are looking for new innovations to improve the taste of healthy products. As a company focused on food ingredient innovation, we're excited to work with Senomyx to deliver additional innovation in food formulation and taste."
Under the terms of the new agreement, Solae - a joint venture with agri firms DuPont and Bunge, and a leading supplier of soy protein to the food industry - will fund the discovery and development of the new flavor systems. The company will have exclusive worldwide use of the flavor ingredients in virtually all categories of foods and beverages that contain added soy protein.
Senomyx, a biotechnology firm that uses proprietary technologies to develop novel flavor ingredients, will be entitled to certain milestone and royalty payments.
The new research, development and commercialization agreement includes a collaborative period for the discovery of new soy protein flavor enhancers and taste modulators using Senomyx's proprietary taste receptor-based assays and screening technologies.
Soy protein is used in a wide variety of foods, including energy bars, breakfast cereals, infant formula and beverages. But the bitter taste of the component has proved a barrier to food manufacturers, who may resort to adding more sugar, fat or salt to a formulation in order to mask undesirable off-notes.
According to Solae and Senomyx, the new flavor ingredients they plan to develop may accelerate consumer acceptance of nutritious foods containing soy protein by eliminating this undesirable taste barrier.