This company is solving the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs
Andrew Ives and the team at Big Idea Ventures are on a mission to find the best companies working with alternative proteins, plant-based food and the latest in food technology to help solve the challenge of feeding a global population of 10 million by 2050.
With $50 million dollars to invest in such an important goal, we wanted to know more! So we put a few questions across to Andrew…
Tell us a bit about yourself; how you live your life and what makes you get out of bed each day.
I’m an Englishman who lives just outside of New York, in Princeton, a quaint university town. Married with a daughter and a vicious white fluffy dog.
What gets me out of bed is working with the best founding teams across the world who create amazing businesses which will change the world for the better. I’m focused on finding great founders who have big ideas that can make consumers happy while reducing climate change, plastics, food waste and how we treat animals in the food system.
Every time consumers make a purchase, they are voting for the kind of world they want for themselves and their families. I want them to vote for a better, more nutritious, healthier world.
Can you tell us about Big Idea Ventures and the vision?
Our goal is simple but not easy. We’re focused on solving the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs.
Our first fund is focused on plant-based and cell-based foods to reduce climate change, move away from animals in the food system and improve personal health. Our second fund is focused on reducing plastics, water and waste, CO2 in the food system.
Why do you focus on funding in this area?
As an ex-Procter & Gamble person I’ve always been focused on responding to what consumers want rather than trying to create a new market.
Consumers around the world are moving towards plant-based meat, seafood and dairy products. The rate of change and acceptance is accelerating. The entrepreneurs developing great plant-based products have the opportunity to change the footprint of the food industry by delivering products which deliver great tasting nutritious and culturally relevant foods with a lower cost to the planet.
Why is the pursuit of alternative sources of protein so important?
There’s literally nothing more important than solving the climate change / global warming trajectory. This is another curve we absolutely need to flatten before it’s too late.
What exactly are cell based meats? Have you tried any and if so, what are they like?
Cell-based meats are meats made from the actual cells of animals. They taste just like regular meat as they are indistinguishable at the cell level. They are grown with zero antibiotics, less water, less land and less CO2 emissions than the traditional factory farming industry.
How do alternative sources of protein compare with ‘real meat’?
If the alternatives are well designed then alternatives can be better tasting, healthier and the same price than the originals.
With regards to the food system, what do you think the world looks like in the next 5/10 years?
If we do our jobs right, animal protein grown on live animal skeletons will be a thing of the past, we will continue to have the same experiences, tastes and celebrations using meat but the meat will be created from either plant-based ingredients or cell-based ingredients grown in hygienic and clean manufacturing facilities, just like all the other foods we consume.
In terms of opportunities, to what extent would you say this is one of the high growth areas for now and the future?
Plant-based and cell-based is a high growth category across the food space and this is driven not by marketing or advertising but by consumers opting in to healthier sources of protein.
The New Protein Fund is supported by Tyson Foods – the world’s second largest meat producer – their entry into the alternative / plant based market was a pivotal moment – how did it come about?
Tyson would be the best people to chat with about their decision to join our fund – we like to think its because they are focused on giving their consumers the best quality protein it’s possible to produce – whether that’s animal protein or plant-based protein.
Who knows, perhaps they’ll eventually launch a cell-based protein range of products in the future if their customers ask for it.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs who want to work in the plant-based arena?
This is the beginning of a whole new category in the food industry – this has not happened in decades. It’s the perfect time to engage with consumers, listen and bring what they want to market.
The demand is there and we want to help and support you bring the next generation of plant-based foods to the world. Reach out to us, we’re here to help.
What is your vision and / or hope for the future?
My hope is that my daughter – and all the other daughters and sons out there – get to live in a world that is as healthy as the one I grew up in. The next generation should have access to not only enough food but nutritious food which will allow us all to live long and healthy lives.
The food system is moving from high calorie, low nutrition, cheap foods to high nutrition, inexpensive foods with a lower impact on the climate and doesn’t require animals to sacrifice for our benefit.
Food entrepreneurs and our investors are helping us to flatten the curve of climate change by offering great tasting, nutritious, plant-based foods.