Alt-protein startups, take note. Big Idea Ventures, an accelerator focusing specifically on the future of protein, is currently taking applications for its next cohort, which has locations in New York City and Singapore.
Part startup accelerator, part venture fund, Big Idea Ventures (also known simply as BIV) looks for companies making plant-based food products, exploring cellular agriculture, or coming up with new ingredients that could pave the way for more animal-free proteins in the food industry. For the $5.2 billion alt-protein space, creating a standout product will become more challenging for companies over the next decade as more versions of non-dairy cheese, plant-based seafood, and lab grown burgers come to market.
The two programs run concurrently. Ten companies are chosen for each, with both programs lasting five months long. Participants get a $125,000 cash investment and a $75,000 in-kind investment, as well as office space, mentorship opportunities, test kitchen facilities, and other resources. There is also potential for BIV to invest more in a company after the program wraps.
The overarching goal, as we noted last year, is to help companies identify and overcome challenges in their business, from finding the right mix of ingredients to getting a product to market and distribution. Companies interested in applying should already have an initial product that’s ready to scale.
“Agriculture and animal farming is one of the largest contributors to global warming. If we can move people towards a more plant-centric diet that are delicious and easy choices to make, that’s going to have an impact,” Andrew D. Ive, Managing General Partner at BIV, told me last year.
As to differences between the two programs, there aren’t many. Part of the reason BIV chooses to host a program outside North America is so that it can connect startups to the right food producers, co-packers, and distributors, and also address some of those cultural nuances and preferences needed for companies to be appealing on a global level. For example, plant-based pork is far more likely to be a success in Asian markets over something like a Beyond burger. “If we’re gonna do this, we need to take into consideration what people eat on a regular basis,” Ive said.
BIV is taking applications for both NYC and Singapore. The final deadline is March 2, 2020, with the Cohort slated to kick off in May.