See the latest developments in the future of food from Big Idea Ventures and our global portfolio.

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NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Big Idea Ventures LLC, the global leader in early stage protein investing, has completed an investment in Stamford, Connecticut-based New Wave Foods®, a plant-based shellfish company. The company is offering a plant-based shrimp ready for restaurants and foodservice operators in 2021.

This investment was made in partnership with Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat and is part of New Wave Foods’ Series A round of $18 million that was headed by NEA, one of the leading global venture capital firms. This marks the first investment by Big Idea Ventures for its Generation Food platform, a later-stage platform for companies delivering real solutions to plastic pollution, food waste, CO2 emissions and water usage.

“We are thrilled to invest in and partner with the New Wave Foods team,” said Tom Mastrobuoni, Chief Investment Officer of Big Idea Ventures. “This round of capital will propel New Wave Foods into their next stage of growth and make a significant impact in the alternative protein market.”

New Wave Shrimp was created through close collaboration with top-tier chefs and renowned R&D experts. It is virtually indistinguishable from ocean shrimp in terms of taste and texture, and delivers great versatility for a wide range of shrimp dishes.

“We are set to disrupt the $9 billion shrimp industry with the introduction of a healthier, more environmentally friendly and sustainable, plant-based shrimp product,” said Mary McGovern, CEO of New Wave Foods. “Raising $18 million through this Series A enables us to aggressively enter the market, establish New Wave Foods as a brand leader and expand our product offerings.”

“We are excited to support New Wave Foods in its growth and look forward to working closely with the management team,” said Adriaan Figee, Chief Commercial Officer for Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat, a leading company in the international protein supply chain, headquartered in the Netherlands. “Plant-based protein products are an expanding part of the Zandbergen growth strategy and our investment in New Wave will expand our portfolio.” Since its foundation Zandbergen has been distributing and producing animal-based proteins, but expanded their assortment with alternative protein solutions in 2018. Recently they’ve also opened a brand-new co-manufacturing plant to produce plant-based products.

“Big Idea Ventures is focused on solving the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs,” said Andrew D. Ive, Founder and Managing General Partner of BIV. “New Wave is positioned to become a world leader in the alternative seafood protein sector delivering great products to consumers in a far more sustainable way.”

About Big Idea Ventures 
Big Idea Ventures LLC (BIV) is a multi-stage venture fund based in New York and Singapore. Founded by Andrew D. Ive, the firm seeks to solve the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs. BIV’s New Protein Fund I is a seed-stage fund investing in plant-and-cell-based food companies. Generation Food is a later-stage platform that invests in companies delivering real solutions to plastic pollution, food waste, CO2 emissions and water usage. For more information www.bigideaventures.com

About New Wave Foods®
New Wave Foods is a disruptor in the seafood market with its 100 percent plant-based shellfish products. The Company’s mission is to protect the oceans by creating delicious plant-based versions of popular over-fished or ecologically destructive shellfish and by bringing them to consumers through a wide array of foodservice locations. The Company’s first offering, New Wave™ Shrimp, is interchangeable with ocean shrimp in any shrimp recipe and is made from seaweed and plant protein. New Wave Foods will soon share its passion for delicious, sustainable plant-based foods with more food service operators and consumers by broadening its product offering and expanding beyond its current geographic footprint. Visit us at www.newwavefoods.com and follow us @newwavefoods.

Media Contacts

Big Idea Ventures | Worth Sparkman | 479-236-0674 | worth@bigideaventures.com

New Wave Foods | Lori Robinson | 917-242-8261 | LRobinson@mww.com

Asia will be at the forefront of cell-based meat innovation, outpacing the US and Europe, the current market leaders in alternative protein, predicts food investor Andrew D Ive.

“I think Asia will lead innovation in cell-based meat, seafood and dairy,” said the CEO and founder of the New York- and Singapore-based venture capital and accelerator firm, Big Idea Ventures (BIV). Its first fund, the $50m New Protein Fund, has invested in seven cell-based meat startups. “Europe and North America could get behind, if [the Asians] really do invest and become the leaders in it.”

Ive began investing in foodtech startups in 2015 as the managing director of SOSV’s Food-X accelerator. Speaking in an interview in December 2020, shortly after Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown chicken for human consumption, Ive said other countries in Asia – home to nearly half a billion of the world’s undernourished people – would be similarly motivated to support cell-based meat as an answer to food security.

“We’ve all seen, with Covid-19, that the food supply chain is not as robust or as reliable as we thought,” he said. “Relying on your trading partners and neighbors to provide all or majority of the food to feed your population is not the best way for the future. Cultured or cell-based meat, seafood, and dairy allows a country to have more food security.

“We’re just at the beginning of that whole new cultured meat industry,” he continued. “It’s not just a bubble. We’re at the beginning of something transformative.”

US-Singapore network

Ive left SOSV to establish Big Idea Ventures so he could “focus on solving the world’s greatest challenges by seeking out and supporting great entrepreneurs.”

BIV is headquartered and runs accelerators in New York and Singapore. Temasek, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, is an anchor investor, alongside US food giant Tyson Foods and Swiss multinational plant equipment manufacturer Bühler Group. “We are the only fund Tyson has invested in,” Ive said.

Andrew D Ive, CEO and founder of Big Idea Ventures © Big Idea Ventures

“We were the first alternative protein accelerator in Singapore,” he added. “The Singaporean government backed us in our fund, and they backed our accelerator. They have a fantastic vision of how Singapore is going to be the leader in the future of the food ecosystem in Asia.”

With a goal of investing in 70–80 startups, BIV launched its New Protein Fund in April 2019. Now running its third cohort, the fund has backed 40 plant-based and cell-based protein startups so far, either through its accelerator or directly. BIV also launched a second fund, Generation Food, with a target size of $250m, in April 2020.

Its current portfolio includes Asia’s most-funded cell-based seafood startup Shiok Meats, which has raised $20.2m to date; MeliBio, which uses microbial fermentation to create honey without bees; Atlanta-based Revolution Gelato and Beijing-based Zhenmeat.

The fund scored its first exit with Belgian cultivated fat producer Peace of Meat, which joined the BIV accelerator last year, when it was fully acquired by Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-listed Meat-Tech 3D.

Invest in food for impact

So far 60–70 startups from Asia and 140–150 from North America have applied to join BIV’s accelerator for the next cohort. US startups make up the bulk of those shortlisted, followed by Indian startups and a handful from other Asian countries. “So, I’d like to see a lot more companies coming through from Asia,” Ive said.

It was at Food-X that Ive decided he wanted to focus on alternative protein – “the area where there was the most innovation; also the most opportunity, from an impact perspective.”

So, he left Food-X to start BIV in November 2018. “Food-X was very broad, investing in many categories in the food industry from hardware, software to supply chain and sustainability.” Without focusing on a specific area, it is very difficult to create an ecosystem to benefit all portfolio companies, he said.

I’d like to see a lot more companies coming through from Asia

Offering a viable alternative source of protein would help shift the market away from inefficient animal farming, which Ive says is second only to transportation in contributing to climate change.

“If we could bring great-tasting, good-priced [alternative] foods to the meat, seafood and dairy space, then we would potentially reduce the reliance that we have as a global population on animal factory farming, on overfishing of the oceans and on the dairy industry.”

More foodtech IPOs?

Ive reckons the overall foodtech ecosystem is starting to strengthen as it offers better exit opportunities for investors, who have tended to prefer other sectors with quicker and more spectacular returns.

“Many investors in the food industry are corporates putting money into young companies and ultimately acquiring them, but this may change,” he said. “We’re likely to see more IPOs because a lot of these young [alternative protein] companies are truly innovating and able to grow revenues rapidly enough to maintain their independence and move quickly toward an IPO.”

Meanwhile BIV’s second fund, Generation Food, will invest in startups working on reducing plastic, water, CO2 emissions and waste throughout the food production system. “If we’re going to produce food, we need to do it with a more sustainable footprint,” Ive said.

Generation Food will start investing in Series A and B, or even later-stage, companies from 2021 and has a dedicated team to build and invest BIV’s second fund.

“The reality is when you start a fund, it probably takes you 12 months to understand how you are going to be different in the marketplace than the other funds out there, and to be able to communicate that strongly and clearly to potential investors,” he said.

A surge of investor interest in alternative protein startups last year also proved timely. In the first quarter of 2020, “more money went into plant-based and cell-based companies as investments, versus the entire 2019,” Ive said. “We have been able to close more money from investors over the last six months than the prior year.”

We were able to close more money from investors over the last six months than the prior year

BIV is also expanding its accelerator programs to Europe and India in 2021 (“the accelerators work together across the major markets globally”). In October 2020, BIV launched the India Alternative Protein Fund with two local partners – financial services firm Ashika Group and not-for-profit Good Food Institute India. The Mumbai-based program will support startups involved in developing plant-based, fermentation-derived and cultivated protein-based food.

Lifetime relationships

Ive described the initial fundraising for the New Protein Fund as “challenging.” Most investors took a wait-and-see attitude. “It was our first fund and people wanted to see how we would do, whether we’re getting a good portfolio and making good investments.”

About 30% of the fund is invested through the accelerator programs, $200,000 for each startup in exchange for about a 7% stake in each company. The remaining 70% is used as direct follow-up investments in selected portfolio companies.

Each program, which is conducted biannually, lasts 20 weeks, almost double the length of time at other accelerators like Food-X. “That’s necessary to help the companies we’re working with. I always felt we were just getting started in the traditional 12-week programs,” Ive said.

Besides funding support, BIV provides the selected startups with access to test kitchen facilities, food technology experts as mentors and assistance with production and scaling.

“By bringing innovative startups together with large food companies which have different expertise, we have been able to get better at producing products that look, smell and taste like the foods that we’re attempting to replace or to substitute.”

And it’s not just a five-month relationship, “it’s for a lifetime,” he said. “BIV will continue to work with the startups on a monthly basis after the acceleration ends.”

The majority of the 40 companies in the New Protein Fund portfolio have closed follow-on funding, “in many cases with 7-digit-USD investment.” He added: “About 80% of the companies in our first cohort have received follow-on funding over the last 12 months,” with nearly half receiving funding from outside investors.

Ive said he started BIV when he was about to turn 50 and had his teenage daughter in mind. “I came to the conclusion that the next 10 years were the time where I was going to be able to have maximum impact in my personal career – what can I do from a business perspective, taking all of the lessons I’ve learned – which will ultimately allow me to make the biggest positive impact on the planet … solving big challenges.”

And it’s entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers who will solve the world’s challenges, be it global warming, water shortage or malnutrition, he said.

“By making investments in companies that will potentially change industries, we can not only make good returns but also do good.”

It’s a great time to love vegan food in Singapore, as artisanal brands are cropping up left, right and centre. With an influx of creative souls pushing the boundaries of flavourful plant-based food; homegrown vegan delicacies are now a thing. Think artisanal cheeses, nut butter, curry puffs, desserts and so much more.

It is now a rarity to walk into a restaurant in Singapore without seeing ‘VO’ or little plant symbols proudly declaring where the vegetarian and vegan food options are on a menu. This got us reflecting at Green Is The New Black about how many delicious vegan food products have sprung up recently in Singapore, and so we wanted to share some of our favourites. From artisanal cheeses to nut butter to the most incredible chocolate desserts to entire vegan grocers – what an exciting time to be a vegan foodie in Singapore. Enjoy!

 

>> Check out our list of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Singapore too

 

vegan food vegan snacks singapore

SAVOURY

4MY | Vegan Camembert Cheese

Charged up to take on the dairy industry, 4MY is a made in Singapore and their first product Yeti is a fully edible natural bloomy white rind that would be comparable to a Camembert or a Brie. It has a deliciously buttery heart, supports sustainability and is 100% plant-based. The flavour comes from the fermentation of cashews and does not contain additives, preservatives or flavourings. They use a  traditional fermentation process which takes around three weeks.

Order here S$18

Nut Busters | Artisanal Nut Butter

Handcrafted in micro-batches, these creamy mouthfuls of heaven bring soul, flavour and sustainability to nut butter. Fair warning, once you have tried a mouthful, no other nut butter will compare. For every jar sold they plant a tree in Indonesia, and as they say ‘not only will you get to get some busted nuts, but you’ll also get to bust deforestation.’ No added oils, sugar or nonsense. Raw, keto and plant-based.

Order here S$18.90-21.90

Loaded Gun Kitchen | Plant-based dips

Most creative branding and boldly flavoured to match – these dips pack a real punch. They are homemade and experimental, with flavours like kick-ass carrot kimchi hummus, sweet miso cashew cream, and kombucha bbq pinto bean. And they are not only for crackers and crudites, they have a library of creative recipes to cook with the dips, including pizzas, pasta, and croquette.

Order here S$15-45

vegan food singapore curry puff

Vegan Haven | Vegan curry puffs

Dairy-free curry puffs, that are so good you forget that they are vegan. Nothing processed here, they are handmade daily with love. All the flavours are created in their own kitchen using the best ingredients, including young jack fruit. Flavours include sambal, Thai green curry, mala and rendang. And they are Muslim owned.

Order here S$2-4 apiece

Kroodi | Artisanal Vegan Cheese

Award-winning homegrown artisanal vegan cheese, naturally free from dairy, lactose, cholesterol, and without gluten, refined sugar and preservatives. These cheese are beautifully spreadable with a variety of exciting flavours, that include basil, cheddar, truffle and red pepper.

Order here or on redmart S$7-55

Karana | Plant-based meat

Want that meat texture or filling but without all the artificial nasties or dodgy processing? Enter Karana, an irresistible alternative to meat made from young jackfruit, a sustainable and abundant plant. You shouldn’t have to choose between health, sustainability and taste – and now you don’t have too. Karana is launching in Singapore as we speak – stay tuned for where to try them.

Check them out here

vegan food singapore dessert

SWEET

The Clean Addicts | Whole-foods bakery

A whole-foods bakery that specialises in nutrient-dense and guilt-free desserts and protein balls made with real food. Their products are vegan, refined sugar-free, with gluten-free and diabetic-friendly options. No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives allows you to eat clean, and feel good. Born out of a need to create healthy cakes for her mother, led to the creation of these clean, guilt-free vegan treats. 

Order here S$29-100

Best Ever Vegan Brownies

These are honestly some of the best brownies we have ever tasted, and we have ordered them way more than we care to admit. They are dewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and the perfect amount of chocolate (not too rich or too heavy!). In their first three months, they raised over $1300 for local animal protection charity Acres. Batches are currently made once a week with three varieties to choose from: original (topped with salt flakes), cookie dough, or speculoos.

Order them here $55 for a full slab or $35 per half slab

Roa | Artisanal Patisserie

Chocolate cakes and cupcakes that are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and eggless. They use avocados and not butter, brown rice milk, and psyllium husk. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised that they are strong on taste but light on calories. Nine months of R&D to create the perfect cake for her god-daughter who had food allergies, but a determination that dietary restrictions should not be a reason to miss out on delicious treats.

Order here S$7-70

Happy Cioccolato | Handcrafted chocolates

Strong believers that we are what we eat, Happy Cioccolato creates food that is simple and comes from nature, not labs. If they can’t pronounce it, it’s not going in. And while they are at it, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, preservatives, nuts and soy are a no-no too. Instead, you can expect delicious chocolates that are friendly to your gut and skin.

Order here S$8-50

MARKETPLACES

Everyday Vegan | Online and offline vegan grocer

On World Vegan Day 2020 Everyday Vegan became the first all-vegan grocer to have a physical store in Singapore. With over 600+ vegan products, you can get your everyday groceries planet conscious and animal friendly. From organic fresh produce to cheese, wine, meat alternatives, canned foods, personal products, and so the lists goes on!

Order online or visit the store at Turf Club

Souley Green | Online marketplace

Shop worry free at Souley Green who ensures all their products are vegan and cruelty-free. From food to beauty and even household products, they have a vast selection of products.

Order online here

E011: Abby Lyall: Big Idea Ventures

Featured Guest Bio:
Abby Lyall is Vice President at Big Idea Ventures, focusing on Series A+ stage investments in sustainable food and agriculture. Prior to this role, Abby was Program Director for BIV’s seed stage alt-protein accelerator and the second employee at Quake Capital Partners.

Fund Information:
Big Idea Ventures is a global venture firm solving the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs. Our initial focus is on solving pressing problems in the food and agriculture space. BIV’s investors include Tyson Ventures, Temasek Holdings, and several other global food corporations.

Fund Site:
Contact:

01/6 Mumbai-based startup makes vegan eggs with plant protein

Would you like to try a vegan omelette that smells, looks and tastes just like an egg omelette but isn’t actually made with eggs? Sounds interesting, right? Well, a Mumbai-based startup has actually made vegan eggs which are entirely prepared with plant protein. The startup ‘Evo Foods’ was founded by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali in August 2019 and in just one year, the startup is going places with their interesting products. The vegan eggs prepared by the startup can be used to make dishes like scrambled eggs, frittatas and even egg rolls.

02/6​ Tasting test

Anant Sharma, who works as a writer at a gaming agency was invited for the tasting test and was presented with a plate of fluffy omelette. The dish smelled and looked just like it was made with an actual egg.

“I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a real egg omelette,” Anant told The Better India. “The texture, the taste, everything was so close. It’s amazing that we have something like this in India already.”

03/6​ The need to switch to vegan

Do you know that animal agriculture contributes to 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest singular factor in global warming. It beats even the entire transport industry in carbon footprint?

Shocked by this data, Kartik turned vegan years ago. Then, in the year 2014 after completing the Startup Leadership Program in Pune, he decided to create vegan alternatives to animal-based foods. He chose eggs, as they are widely consumed across states and is a readily available animal-based food product.

04/6​ How is the vegan egg made?

The startup has basically made a liquid egg replacement which is similar to what you get after beating an egg. With a calorific value less than that of an egg and with many added vitamins like D3 and B12, the liquid egg replacer is a protein rich source. It is completely devoid of cholesterol and antibiotics too.

“We take Indian legumes, extract proteins from it and use these proteins that are completely plant-based to make our product,” says Kartik.

05/6​ How the startup kicked off

Kartik then met Shraddha at a conference for food startups, where they discussed the idea and instantly hit it off. Shraddha had recently come back from the US armed with an education in hospitality and experience in the restaurant industry. She runs her own vegan restaurant in Mumbai called Candy & Green and is a huge proponent of sustainability, nutrition and a vegetarian lifestyle.

“What I really wanted was to change people’s perspective of food,” Shraddha explains. “And I realised that the best way to reach the maximum number of people was through something like Evo. Our goal is to create high-quality, affordable protein-sources for the world.”

06/6 ​Future plans

The startup is currently functioning with a team of six, which includes two founders, four food scientists and engineers. The startup grew as they got their initial funding from the Big Idea Ventures and Ryan Bethencourt- the leaders in the alternative food and protein space.

Speaking of their future plans, Kartik told The Better India, “Our focus will be fully on eggs, even in the near future. It’s a $200 billion market worldwide, so there’s enough space to make amazing egg products and improve them.”

Evo Foods have partnered with more than 25 restaurant brands to include their eggs as a vegan option on their menus, but their ultimate goal is to sell them directly in the market. If things go according to plan, you should be able to buy it from the supermarket in 300 ml and 600 ml bottles very soon.

The year 2020 will long be synonymous with the term ‘pivot’, with companies focusing on survival instead of growth.

2020 forced companies to digitalise and make inefficient business processes redundant.

It also exposed gaps in every industries, and companies had to relook into how business has typically been done.

If you have been wondering if now is the best time to start a company, here are three reasons why 2021 will be a great year to kickstart your business.

Higher Consumption Of Online Content

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of the nation by leaps and bounds.

It has now become easier and more accessible for everyday people to start businesses such as e-commerce, virtual assistant work or coaching.

For one, e-commerce has spiked by nearly 40 per cent in the wake of Covid-19 if you are looking to start an online business.

Tech firms
Image Credit: TechCrunch / Glassdoor / Lazada / Qoo10

There has also been a rise in digital talent platforms, creating a new marketplace for high-skill freelance work as the world gears towards remote working. With these digital talents, it is now easier than ever to hire freelancers for your business.

According to the Harvard Gazette, a growing ecosystem of more than 300 talent platforms has emerged as digital transformation takes place.

The consumption of online content is also higher than ever with people staying at home and working remotely. This means that businesses that operate in the online space can potentially reach more customers or talent to join them.

In fact, the number of people around the world using the internet has grown to 4.54 billion in January 2020, an increase of 7 per cent (298 million new users) compared to January 2019. Covid-19 has further pushed up internet use 70 per cent.

Furthermore, those aged 65+ are set to continue their shift online during Covid-19 as they increasingly shop online and adopt digital payments, suggesting that the Internet is not just for the younger people.

survey of 2,000 internet users aged 16 and above found that 43 per cent of those in this age group have shopped more online since the start of the crisis, compared to 42 per cent amongst all adults.

In comparison, back in May 2019, just 16 per cent of those aged 65+ shopped online at least once a week.

Emergence Of New Opportunities

While 2020 may have killed many businesses, it has also sparked the birth of ingenious business ideas.

For example, we saw 3D printing companies using 3D technology to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE) to meet the shortages.

3D printing has helped us see for ourselves the possibilities of the technology. Thanks to it, critical life-saving ventilators and respirators were 3D printed and supplied faster in other countries.

Business ideas that emerged during Covid-19
Image Credit:  Dezeen / MOGUL.sg / Accredify / MIRxes / Float Foods / CGTN.com

As a result, many companies are revisiting how products are being manufactured and some are thinking of ways to bring manufacturing back locally.

The Asia Pacific 3D printers market is set to grow by 21.4 per cent over 2020-2030 with a total addressable market cap of $58.83 billion despite the COVID-19 impact.

We also saw the creation of more plant-based options to curb food insecurity such as a plant-based egg or cell-based shrimp.

To this end, Singapore has intensified its efforts to grow the alternative protein industry in recent years, such as a US$50 million fund raised by Big Idea Ventures — backed by Temasek, Tyson Foods and Buhler — to invest in innovative startups working on alternative protein.

The government also took a major step to commit a total of S$144 million to catalyse and facilitate more investments in the agri-food space, which included priority areas such as urban agriculture and alternative proteins.

These innovative business ideas would not have materialised if it were not for the virus. While these needs existed before, there was less urgency to develop solutions for them.

If you are thinking about what solutions you wish you had, that are not currently being met, chances are there are probably others looking for the same solutions.

Therefore, 2021 might just be the best time to jump on these opportunities.

When starting a business, make sure it is specialised and targeted. Instead of capturing the entire market with a unique idea, target an underrepresented customer or industry.

Lack Of Time Is No Longer An Excuse

It is true that the pandemic has forced millions of people out of their jobs.

This presents the opportunity for us to execute that business idea we have always wanted to and start our own companies.

Remote working becoming the norm also means that we have more personal time to execute that business idea.

Checklist
Image Credit: Founder Institute

Therefore, there is no excuse now to say that “there is no time” when it comes to embarking on entrepreneurship.

In fact, there are a few businesses that started off as passion projects before making it big.

For example, Love, Bonito was started when its 3 founders sold clothes online to earn extra pocket money. They pooled a total of S$500 into starting the business, and the home business quickly turned into a full-fledged one.

The duo behind Vintagewknd started the brand as a passion project, and sold their carefully curated vintage pieces on Carousell.

They were juggling their full-time jobs before they took a leap of faith and launched Vintagewknd as a full-time project.

More Grants Available For S’pore Businesses

Singapore is lauded as one of the best places to start a business, and the good thing is, there are many available schemes to help new businesses gain a kickstart in the early stages.

In August, enhancements to the Startup Founder SG programme was announced by the government.

One of these enhancements is a new three-month venture building programme to help entrepreneurs build their startup.

Singaporean first-time entrepreneurs can now have access to a grant of S$50,000, up from S$30,000 previously, to help them kickstart their business ideas.

The government had also pledged an additional S$300 million to Startup Equity at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)’s Committee-of-Supply 2020.

Startup Equity was set up to catalyse more investments into Singapore-based deep-tech startups in key emerging sectors, including advanced manufacturing, pharmbio/medtech, and agri-food tech.

As part of the Startup SG Equity scheme, the government will co-invest with independent, qualified third party investors into eligible startups.

Following the MTI’s Committee of Supply 2020, the schemes will be enhanced to increase the investment cap for deep-tech startups from the current S$4 million to S$8 million and invest in selected venture capital firms that will in turn invest in deep-tech startups.

Furthermore, rental costs for retail spaces and office spaces are significantly lower now, so now could be a good time to start a business.

A Year Of New Beginnings

Overall, 2021 should be a year of renewal as businesses relook into their strategies and see how they can do things differently than before.

It is also a clean slate for us to reevaluate our goals and act on them, such as becoming an entrepreneur.

While 2020 may not have been the best year, you can start seizing opportunities and start your own company from 2021.

The year has provided us all with many reasons to adapt in order to continue with our lives as best as possible. It has been a testing time to say the least, yet despite this, we have been able to witness the spirit of invention take hold like never before. With this in mind, we have selected our Top 20 Innovations for 2020, all of which have contributed to shifting the future of food and drink.

Carbon Negative Vodka – Air Co.

Avoca-Dough – M&S

AI Controlled Insect Farm – Better Origin x1

Algae at Home with the BioBombola – EcoLogicStudio

Scottish Blackthorn Sea Salt – Blackthorn Sea Salt

Liquid Egg – Cracked

100% Plastic Free Spirits Bottle – Diageo

Spectacular Science – Dr Oetker

24/7 Farm Shop Vending Machines

Climate Positive Burgers – Ground

Ice Cream Cakes – Ruby Ices

Kefir Salad Dressing – Trader Joe’s

Green Tea as a Natural Preservative – Loveblock Wines

Bee-Free Honey – MeliBio Inc

Pumpkin Bagels – The Bagel Nook

Protein and Fibre Enriched Vegetable Rice – RightRice

Climate Friendly Protein – Solar Foods

Cold Brew Black Tea – Trader Joe’s

Vegetable Charcuterie – The Ethicurean

On The Pass – Philip Warren Butchers

To find out about ‘shifting the future of food & drink’ and to join the TFP community visit www.thefoodpeople.co.uk.

Los Angeles-based vegan startup Grounded Foods began making its plant-based cheeses out of non-GMO hemp seeds and “ugly” cauliflowers last year. Now, the food tech is set to add three more products to its cheese offerings and is racing against coronavirus-related delays to bring its cruelty-free, food waste-fighting and vegan-friendly cheeses to consumers.

What makes the startup unique? Unlike many other plant-based cheese brands that use nuts as its base, Grounded Foods’ vegan cheeses are free from nuts, soy and gluten, and use hemp seeds and imperfect cauliflowers that would otherwise go to waste instead. The three new products that are slated to launch in early 2021 include Marinated Hemp Seed Goat Cheese, Hemp Seed Cream Cheese and Cheese-free Cheese Sauce.

The news comes on the heels of the young startup’s successful US$1.74 million seed funding this summer, which saw the company attract big alternative protein investment names like Stray Dog Capital and Veg Invest Trust, to kick start full-scale production, grow its shipping capabilities and ramp up distribution.

We had the opportunity to chat to co-founder and CEO of Grounded Foods Veronica Fil to ask her more about the upcoming launch and her story behind the startup- below the full interview.

GQ: Tell us more about where you will be launching the products. Are they going to be retailed or rolled out via foodservice? 

VF: We’re launching direct-to-consumer. It was meant to happen in November, but like many startups, we’ve been massively constrained by covid delays – for instance, waiting for our equipment to arrive and be cleared through customs. Everything is progressing nicely, it’s just happening way slower than I think it would have prior to 2020! At this stage, I think a late January or early February launch will be more likely. As soon as the products are rolling off the line, we’ll open up online sales and will be shipping nationally throughout the U.S., and then retail sales will follow soon after that. 

GQ: Let’s go back to your story. Where are you from and how did you start the brand with Shaun Quade? 

VF: We’re both from Melbourne, Australia. Shaun and I met on a dating app several years ago after we noticed we were a 99% match. The algorithm is clearly pretty accurate, because we immediately went into business together and got married after that!

GQ: How big is your team and where in California do you produce your cheeses?

VF: Our core team is made up of five people, including myself and Shaun. We’re now manufacturing the products at a plant-based facility, around an hour away from us in Los Angeles.

GQ: How do you source your “ugly” cauliflowers to make your vegan cheese?

We’re passionate about using local, sustainable ingredients, and for us, that means utilising imperfect produce – such as the cauliflower that can’t be sold to supermarkets. 90% of U.S. cauliflower is grown in California, which is one of the reasons why we’re here! We’re always on the lookout for local suppliers and farmers to work with, and we’re still pretty new to the States so building those relationships has been a huge priority for us.

GQ: Are there any plans to fundraise at this stage?

VF: We’re not actively fundraising at the moment, but we’ll probably look at raising again in the first half of 2021.

GQ: What’s your ultimate mission? What keeps you going on the hard days?

VF: Our ultimate mission is to genuinely shift consumer behaviour in a meaningful way – by creating products that are so novel and delicious and accessible, that people don’t even think about the fact that they’re not eating dairy. If the product isn’t insanely tasty, everyday people just won’t buy it as an alternative to traditional dairy.

That’s one side of the equation. But also, we want to be part of the solution – not contributing to the problem that’s occurring in our existing food system. So we’re hell bent on using environmentally resilient and local ingredients as well, not just importing whatever is cheapest or easiest.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that bee colonies are collapsing around the world due to a number of persistent threats such as global warming, pesticides and yes, murder hornets.

And while that may present a challenge to the $7 billion honey industry, the focus on honey production is itself problematic for the broader bee ecosystem, since farmed honeybees compete with wild bees for food and ultimately can hurt biodiversity.

All of which is why a Serbian bee industry executive by the name of Darko Mandich became fascinated with the idea of making honey without the bees. If this sounds crazy to you, don’t worry: Darko’s soon-to-be cofounder, Aaron Schaller, initially thought it was crazy too when they first discussed the idea.

But eventually, Schaller (a molecular scientist from the University of Cal Berkeley) saw the potential in bee-less honey and soon after, MeliBio was born. From there, the nascent startup pitched their concept to Big Idea Ventures and was accepted into the future food accelerator.

Now the company is busy developing its technology to create a honey that replicates the taste, texture and mouthful of real honey, all without bees. As Darko tells me on this podcast, MeliBio is using fermentation to essentially recreate the process through which bees convert nectar to honey. The startup hopes to have its first product on the market by late 2021.

You can listen to the full conversation with Darko Mandich by clicking play below or by subscribing to the Food Tech Show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (and leave a review if you like the show). You can also download the episode directly to your computer by clicking here. And, as always, you can always find more food tech news and podcasts at The Spoon.

ALTERNATIVE protein company Perfect Day is setting up its research and development (R&D) centre in Singapore, as the government ramps up efforts to grow the agri-food tech sector.

The A*Star-Perfect Day Joint Lab, which is expected to be operational from April next year, will comprise roughly 10 per cent of the Perfect Day workforce “in the beginning (before) growing from there to have a more significant presence”, said Perfect Day co-founder Perumal Gandhi.

The company uses precision fermentation biotechnology techniques to develop and produce animal-free dairy proteins, casein and whey. These animal-free protein products are then used to make items such as ice cream, cheese and yoghurt.

It plans to hire and train a pool of researchers, scientists and engineers locally, with know-how for microflora protein innovation, for example, in strain development, protein assays and analysis. The lab will focus on developing analytical systems that will be critical for ensuring the accuracy, specificity and consistency of the firm’s fermentation processes and protein ingredients.

It will leverage the A*Star Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation’s expertise in analytics and taste analysis, as well as the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology’s capabilities in the study of proteins.

Agri-food tech was highlighted as a new growth sector and potential export industry by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in its Committee of Supply in 2019.

Indeed, the sector is of growing importance in Singapore’s economy as the world looks for innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions to increase production yield and improve food quality.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant disrupted and weakened food supply chains have heightened this urgency, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Monday, as he witnessed the signing of a Research Collaboration Agreement between Perfect Day and A*Star.

Notably, the agri-food sector is primed for growth. Agri-food tech-focused venture capitalist AgFunder had announced a 46.8 per cent annual increase to US$16.9 billion of sector venture funding in 2018, and another 17.2 per cent annual increase to US$19.8 billion in 2019.

“Leveraging Singapore’s unique farm-to-fork ecosystem and track record for technical capabilities, quality branding and intellectual property protection, we aim to capture a significant share of the wave of economic opportunities,” said Mr Chan.

Various initiatives to grow this sector include the launch of the S$144 million Singapore Food Story R&D Programme, the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation which provides a single touch point for industry players keen to collaborate with A*Star, and the Future REady Food Safety Hub (FRESH), a tripartite collaboration between the Singapore Food Agency, A*Star, and Nanyang Technological University.

Mr Chan added that the opening of the Agri-Food Innovation Park in the second quarter of 2021 will further catalyse innovation in the ecosystem.

“We are also building a vibrant cluster of financing firms across various stages, for example, New Protein Capital, EDB Investments, Temasek, and Proterra, as well as a base of global agri-food accelerators (example, Big Idea Ventures alternative proteins accelerator and GROW Accelerator),” said the minister. “Our eventual aim is to build up the talent pool with expertise to deploy more than S$90 million of capital.”

These are part of the country’s overall food diversification strategy which comprises stockpiling, diversification of foreign suppliers, and local food production.

On the local food production front, the focus is on both high-tech, high-density vegetable farms and alternative protein products.

“This will allow us to meet our food supply requirement without the reliance on large tracts of land that other countries might have,” he pointed out. “Overall, it will be a much more efficient and sustainable way to produce the amount of food required for the growing population, particularly in Asia, where the demand for quantity and quality will grow up correspondingly with the growth of the region.”

As the plant-based wave continues to sweep across Asia, going mainstream in everywhere from South Korea to Thailand and Japan, the Philippines is no exception to the trend. While Filipino cuisine is often described as a meat-filled melange of sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavours (hello adobo) not to mention meat-heavy (ahem, lechon), the country’s food scene is now becoming increasingly crowded with plant-based options. Here’s how the Filipino plant-based industry is heating up, particularly in the capital of Manila.

1. Burger King Philippines has added a plant-based whopper

Source: Burger King / V2food / Green Queen Media

It’s clear that mainstream Filipino consumers are looking for a healthier, cruelty-free bite when it comes to satisfying their fast food cravings, and Burger King has become the latest trend to offer just that. Last month, the burger joint added an all-new plant-based whopper to its menu in the Philippines, made with Aussie startup V2food’s soy-based high-protein patties.

Alt Protein Trends 2021 Article Banner

2. OmniPork Luncheon is now available across the country

Source: OmniFoods / Green Queen Media

Spam is considered a staple across many Asian cuisines, including in the Philippines, where the country consumes an astonishing 1.25 million kilograms of the processed ham every single year. Last month, the world’s first vegan version of the luncheon meat made by Hong Kong-based OmniFoods, landed in the country via local distributor Wholemart Philippines in a true testament of how the plant-based movement is reaching new highs.

3. Beyond Meat first made it to Filipino restaurants in 2019

Source: Beyond Meat

Food tech giant Beyond Meat’s famous plant-based burger patties made their first entry into the Filipino market back in 2019, launching at a number of restaurants in Manila. It has been so popular with customers that now, many more menus are offering the Beyond Burger, including at restaurant chain TGI Fridays and is also retailed at a number of direct-to-consume platforms.

4. WTH Foods is leading the way with its homegrown alt protein offerings

Source: WTH Foods

As the first plant-based food tech in the country, WTH Foods – also known as Worth The Health – is making waves with its plant-based sustainable meat alternatives that targets the taste buds of Filipinos. Among some of the products the band currently offers includes mung bean-based ground meat, a jackfruit-based pulled meat, we have a plant-based corned beef and hot dogs – all of them completely vegan and specifically catered to the local market.

Read: Q&A with WTH Foods co-founder Stephen Michael Co on mainstreaming plant-based in the Philippines 

5. Filipino food giant Century Pacific has developed its own vegan meat brand

Source: Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures

In a clear show of the plant-based shift in mainstream consumer tastes, Po family food giant Century Pacific Foods, best known for its tuna, has created its own meatless brand. Called unMeat, the brand officially launched in November this year and currently offers vegan burger patties, with more alternatives to come in the future. Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures, the major pizza chain owned by Century Pacific, will also be adding plant-based burgers to its menus in every outlet in the country.

6. There’s now a loads of plant-based meat options available to Filipino consumers

Source: The Good Choices

Yes, homegrown vegan brands are taking over Filipino supermarket shelves! Alongside WTH Foods, a number of companies have popped up, such as ready-made plant-based meal brand The Good Choices and vegan beef alternative The Real Happy Cow. There’s plant-based snack makers Vegetari Healthy Bites and Jack’s Produce, a specialty store offering jackfruit-based vegan sardines too.

A  plate of fluffy omelette and bread toast was put in front of Anant Sharma. He was a writer at a gaming agency and had been invited for a tasting. The dish smelled great, but he was sceptical. You see, this was no ordinary omelette. It was made entirely with plant proteins, a dream for vegans like Anant who miss the unique umami flavour of eggs. But he wondered — how close could it possibly be?

But his doubts quickly vanished with his first bite and polishing off the rest he ordered another one, this time with veggies.

“I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a real egg omelette,” Anant tells The Better India. “The texture, the taste, everything was so close. It’s amazing that we have something like this in India already.”

The main ingredient was a liquid egg substitute created by Evo foods, a new Mumbai-based startup in the emerging alternative food space in India.

It was founded by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali in August 2019. In just one year, they have come up with a prototype that resembles a beaten egg in taste, texture, chemistry and nutrient profile. It can be used in recipes such as scrambled eggs, frittatas, and egg rolls. They have also managed to achieve a price tag comparable to that of farm-range eggs in the country.

A Chicken And Egg Problem

There are many reasons why people opt for a plant-based diet, such as health and animal welfare. For Kartik, the prime motivation was climate change.

Animal agriculture contributes to 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest singular factor in global warming. It beats even the entire transport industry in carbon footprint.

Shocked by this data, Kartik turned vegan years ago. In 2014, after completing the Startup Leadership Program in Pune, he decided to focus on creating good vegan alternatives to animal-based foods. Alternatives that did not compromise on taste or nutrition.

He first worked on cell-based meat but soon felt that India doesn’t yet have the technical know-how for lab-cultured meat. That’s when he thought of eggs.

Eggs are amongst the most prevalent animal-based foods in India, consumed across regions and religions. The technology and talent needed for making a good egg substitute from plants were also readily available.

While he was chewing on this idea, he met Shraddha at a conference for food startups. She had recently come back from the US armed with an education in hospitality and experience in the restaurant industry. She runs her own vegan restaurant in Mumbai called Candy & Green and is a huge proponent of sustainability, nutrition and a vegetarian lifestyle.

They discussed the future of food and really hit it off. This was in December 2018. In August next year, they set up Evo.

“What I really wanted was to change people’s perspective of food,” Shraddha explains. “And I realised that the best way to reach the maximum number of people was through something like Evo. Our goal is to create high-quality, affordable protein-sources for the world.”

vegan eggs
A vegan omelette made from Evo’s egg replacer.

The Proof Is In The Omelette

Evo’s liquid egg replacer is equivalent to what you get after beating an egg. All the raw ingredients that go into it are indigenous to India.

“We take Indian legumes, extract proteins from it and use these proteins that are completely plant-based to make our product,” says Kartik.

The vegan egg, whose exact recipe is patented, is close to an actual egg in protein quality. One way of measuring this is with PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score). Its values range from 0 to 1, with 1 for the highest quality protein. For example, soy protein has a PDCAA score of 0.9, but eggs and meat have perfect scores of 1 each.

With a calorific value less than that of an egg and with many added vitamins like D3 and B12, the replacer is a very healthy protein source. It is completely devoid of cholesterol and antibiotics too.

According to the founders, the taste was easy to achieve with added flavours, but guaranteeing the texture of the cooked product was the biggest challenge. And they are constantly trying to improve on it.

Shelf stability is another difficult aspect they are working on, which would in turn solve many logistical limitations. They are also trying to make the egg substitute suitable for baking as the current version is ideal for pan recipes only.

The response from early tasters like Anant and customers at Shraddha’s restaurant has been overwhelmingly positive. There is a bigger tasting session scheduled for January

“It’s essentially like software development. We are continuously iterating on the product. We’ll release an alpha version soon. Based on more feedback, we’ll do a beta and then a full-scale version,” says Kartik.

Vegan eggs
Shraddha Bhansali and Kartik Dixit

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth is

Evo is currently a team of six, including the two founders and four food scientists and engineers.

They have grown in leaps and bounds partly because of the early funding they raised from the likes of Big Idea Ventures and Ryan Bethencourt — leaders in the alternative food and protein space.

Speaking of their future plans, Kartik says, “Our focus will be fully on eggs, even in the near future. It’s a $200 billion market worldwide, so there’s enough space to make amazing egg products and improve them.”

They have partnered with more than 25 restaurant brands to include Evo as a vegan option on their menus, but their ultimate goal is to put it in the hands of the consumers. If things go according to plan, you should be able to buy it off of supermarket shelves, in 300 ml and 600 ml bottles, within a few months.

Lorem ipsum | Vietnam | cesiscompany.vn

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