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

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Startup accelerator Big Idea Ventures supports food entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of innovation. The business brings together an ecosystem of innovators, partners, thought leaders and funding, to turn clever ideas into commercially viable products.

The company has been quick to identify plant-based meats as a growth category across numerous regional markets.

“People want to cut down on their meat consumption, and at the same time have great tasting, well priced, healthier plant-based versions of products they have grown up loving,”

explains the Big Idea Ventures’ founder.

Evolving alternative protein space  

Big Idea Ventures’ first fund, the New Protein Fund, is a $50m fund that invests in the most innovative alternative protein companies. These startups are working on plant-based foods, cell-based foods, as well as ingredients and technologies that facilitate the growth of these sectors. Big Idea Ventures has a presence in Asia and North America, and is looking to expand into other regions.

“One of the companies in our portfolio, Karana, recently launched Asia’s first indulgent whole-plant based meat brand with its first product — ‘pork’ made from young jackfruit,” says Ive.

“Another, Gourmey, is France’s first cultured meat company. The firm is reinventing France’s most iconic delicacy: foie gras. Its mission is to accelerate the world’s transition toward humane, sustainable and healthy meat by harvesting it from animal cells.”

Another company uses fermentation technologies to produce novel ingredients, including protein, fats, and gelatin, while yet another uses microbial fermentation to produce honey, removing bees from the food chain.

“We are definitely witnessing more innovative startups, and this is partly due to the global growth in consumer demand as they move towards plant-based alternatives,” says Ive.

Supporting regional entrepreneurship

The company has noted an exponential increase in the number of startups from India, underlining the global potential of the alternative protein landscape. India has an established culture of vegetarianism, and boasts the largest vegetarian population in the world.

Big Idea Ventures recently launched a new fund and accelerator in India focused on supporting the country’s alternative protein ecosystem. The fund will back startups working on plant-based, fermentation-derived and cultivated meat, seafood, egg and dairy alternatives.

“The Good Food Institute (GFI) India, a strong partner of BIV, has already undertaken extensive work to develop local awareness of the new food ecosystem, such as hosting the India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge,” says Ive.

“We are also seeing increasing support from governments in the region who are seeing alternative protein innovation as a solution for food insecurity and a good way to increase domestic production.”

Ive expects plant-based and cell-based mutton and seafood to dramatically increase in India, with additional growth of consumer demand for beef and pork in China. Green Queen’s Asia Alternative Protein Industry Report 2020 states that the intake of beef and mutton in the two most populous countries within Asia – China and India – will see a 110% (beef) and 138% (mutton) rise respectively.[1]

“We are focused on any region which has young companies solving global challenges in the alternative protein and breakthrough food innovation,” says Ive.

“Our current offices are based in New York and Singapore, and we intend to add offices in Europe and India. We’re here to help and fund the best and youngest plant-based and cell-based meat, seafood and dairy companies in the world. Reach out, we want to hear from you.”

A new startup aims to make animal-free gelatin and collagen.

Named Jellatech, the story behind the company is unique to the times: Its co-founders, CEO Stephanie Michelson and head of science Kylie van Deinsen-Hesp, have yet to meet in person due to COVID-19.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in animals; it can be extracted from their skin, bones, and connective tissues. It has a wide range of applications, from beauty supplements and cosmetic surgery to medical purposes, such as reconstructive surgery.

Jellatech makes cell-based (AKA lab-grown, cultivated, or cultured) collagen and gelatin. This means the protein is grown from real human and animal cells.

This technique has also been used to grow meat by a number of startups in recent years, including Israeli company Aleph Farms, which recently unveiled a 3D bioprinted ribeye steak.

The Raleigh-based startup’s founders say that there are fewer challenges with producing cell-based collagen and gelatin than there are with growing meat. And, they aim to use cellular agriculture to eliminate the use of animals for these ingredients.

For starters, Deinsen-Hesp explained to FoodNavigator-USA, lab-grown meat producers need a lot of cells and a lot of expensive growth media, which is used to feed and grow meat, such as using cow’s cells to grow a ribeye steak. Cell-based producers use those cells to make meat–fat, muscle, connective tissue, and all–which poses challenges.

The Potential of Lab-Grown Collagen

But at scale, Jellatech would be able to produce animal-free collagen on a continuous basis.

“We envision a continuous purification and purification process, so you just grow the cells to a certain density, and then harvest collagen continually from the cells,” said Deinsen-Hesp.

While she acknowledges that producing collagen this way is far pricier than microbial fermentation, using animal cells has advantages. Collagen is “not easy to engineer into a microbe,” she said.

“Why reinvent something when you can take something that already makes exactly what you want?” Deinsen-Hesp asked. “With a cell-based approach, we can really substitute animal-based collagen and create a truly functional animal-free collagen.”

In addition to collagen, Jellatech is taking on animal-free gelatin. The flavorless, colorless ingredient is derived from collagen and is used as a thickening and gelling agent in food and cosmetic products. Eventually, Jellatech will be able to produce a variety of collagen-derived ingredients.

Jellatech will function as a b2b company, where one business makes materials or ingredients for another business’s production process. It is already in talks with a handful of interested parties and has secured seed funding from venture capital fund Sustainable Food Ventures and Big Idea Ventures. It is currently raising additional funds.

Cell-based collagen and gelatin may not be available for some time. Jellatech is currently working on a number of things. These include consulting food law experts about regulatory approval from the FDA to bioreactor design.

LIVEKINDLY has reached out to Jellatech for additional information.

SINGAPORE: As a tiny city-state with a population density that ranks third in the world, Singapore isn’t particularly suited for conventional agriculture and free-roaming livestock.

But Gaia Foods needs no farm to feed a world hungry for some sinewy grub. All it needs is a laboratory, faith from investors and a couple more technological breakthroughs.

The lab-grown meat developer was founded by Mr Vinayaka Srinivas and Mr Thanh Hung Nguyen, researchers who met at Duke-NUS Medical School in December 2019.

The pair is trying to create structured beef and pork products – think beef steaks and pork chops – by growing animal cells on scaffolds, or thin plant-based surfaces, so that it mimics the texture of meat cuts as opposed to minced meat.

vin gaia foods microscope
Mr Vinayaka Srinivas co-founded Gaia Foods in December 2019, a startup trying to create structured beef and pork products using animal cell technology. (Photo: Rachel Phua).

“We think we can produce meat in a cleaner, green and animal-friendly manner that people can consume without all the guilt,” said Mr Srinivas, highlighting the benefits his industry peers have touted since the first lab-grown hamburger was unveiled in 2013.

Mr Srinivas said they want to launch their first product in three-and-a-half years at S$15 to S$20 a kilogramme – which is close to prices of traditional meat today – at restaurants. The plan is to go mass market in five years.

Right now, the cost of production is at an exorbitant S$6,000 per kilogramme, largely owing to the expensive animal serum and pharma-grade nutrients used to grow and feed the animal cells respectively.

But Mr Srinivas and his partner are confident they can bring the price down. Experiments are ongoing to develop a similar serum from plants and yeast, as well as cell feed from nutrients extracted from plants.

Gaia Foods is staffed by just the two of them and three interns currently, but if they meet their fundraising goal of S$3 million by the end of the year, they could hire 10 people to accelerate the development process.

So far, the founders have been relying on their savings and US$125,000 in seed money from alternative protein investor Big Idea Ventures.

Currently, the local alternative protein scene is dominated by the likes of first-movers Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, whose sausages and beef patties are now commonplace on supermarket freezers and restaurant menus.

But homegrown talents are taking advantage of the growing popularity of these meat substitutes, launching their own companies to create their version of no-kill poultry and seafood.

Long-established food manufacturers are also getting into the game, including Growthwell, a vegetarian food provider known for its wheat gluten-based mock meat products under brands like OKK. Last year, it announced it was partnering Israeli start-up ChickP to launch a chickpea protein-based seafood alternative products.

Even a number of international counterparts have anchored themselves here, drawn to Singapore’s position as a gateway to the rest of Asia, where a growing middle-class is expected to drive up meat demand by 78 per cent by 2050, according to a 2018 report by Singapore-based consultancy Asia Research and Engagement.

In December, San Francisco-based Eat Just, which launched its lab-grown chicken in Singapore, said it would make Singapore its Asia-Pacific headquarters. In the same month, Californian dairy-substitute maker Perfect Day announced plans to open a research lab this April with the Agency of Science, Technology, and Research, or A*STAR. Next Gen, a plant-based protein maker, opened its headquarters and research centre here in October last year.

 

Lab-grown cultured chicken developed by Eat Just
Chicken bites made from lab-grown cultured chicken developed by Eat Just is pictured in this handout photo. Eat Just, Inc./Handout via REUTERS

Singapore is well-poised to become one of the world’s alternative protein hub if the growth trajectory continues, said industry players, including companies, investors and observers.

It boils down to several reasons: Singapore’s intellectual property laws, skilled talent pool, accessibility to a multicultural palate, geographical proximity to agriculture exporters in Southeast Asia, as well as policymakers’ support for the food technology industry. Singapore authorities recently granted the world’s first regulatory approval for cellular meat.

“What we are saying (to the rest of the world is) we are a forward-looking country,” food security expert Dr Paul Teng said on Singapore becoming the first country to allow lab-grown meat for sale.

“This might be a way to encourage companies to relocate here … because are recognised for our high safety standards,” said the adjunct senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

SUPPORTIVE ECOSYSTEM 

Authorities in Singapore have been vocal about their support for building a vibrant food technology scene – which includes developing alternative proteins – as part of a larger national strategy to ramp up local food production and improve the country’s supply of food.

For example, in 2019, the Government announced that it would invest S$144 million in food research under a new scheme called the Singapore Food Story R&D programme. It also has a fund-like scheme called Startup SG Equity that invests in start-ups and venture capital firms, including those in the agri-food technology line.

Big Idea Ventures’ Andrew Ive said he chose to set up his second office in Singapore due to the public economic agencies’ support of the alternative protein scene.

“I think there’s a really cohesive vision and strategy … in Singapore,” said the founder of the US$50 million venture capital fund and accelerator. He had spoken to people from the likes of Temasek and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), as well as others in Israel, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen before making his decision, he said.

Ants Innovate’s founder Professor Hanry Yu said the close ties between academia, the Government and the private sector is the main draw of Singapore, giving companies access to publicly-funded research and grants.

“Other countries’ (researchers and businesses) tend to be working in silos,” Dr Yu said. “Singapore has been the place that pushed for building ecosystems, and I don’t believe we (companies) can single-handedly (build) the industry.”

Eat Beyond, a Canadian publicly-listed fund, announced last December it was backing two Singapore cell-protein start-ups – cell-based milk maker TurtleTree and cell-protein contract manufacturer SingCell.

It is likely to add “one or two more” companies from Singapore to its current portfolio of seven, Eat Beyond’s chief executive Patrick Morris told CNA.

What caught his attention about Singapore was the country’s aim to significantly increase local food production so that it makes up 30 per cent of food demand by 2030. Right now, Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food.

“(With the) 30-30 plan, we can expect to see a vast amount of technology surrounding vertical farming, cell agriculture, agriculture, intelligent supply chains,” he said. “That’s a real driving force behind Singapore, and that’s a reason that we saw that potential for them to be leaders in the movement for alternative proteins.”

Research centres here attest to the growing interest in alternative proteins as well. About 20 to 30 firms have expressed interest to use Givaudan and Buhler’s joint plant-based innovation centre ahead of its opening in April, executives from the two Swiss companies said.

“We currently have the good problem (of) rather than the problem of nobody’s coming in. (It’s) how do we prioritise (who comes in first),” said Buhler’s Southeast Asia & Pacific head of technology Dominique Kull.

Meanwhile, Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre has run 10 plant-based protein projects so far, said its acting director David Chai. Half of them sprung up in the past 12 months, a testament to the increasing attention businesses are giving to alternative proteins. The facility also helped Eat Just to manufacture its cell-based chicken nuggets.

The centre has mostly been contracted by local food manufacturers currently selling traditional meat and who are keen to expand into the plant-based field. Some are also looking to blend plant-based proteins with their meat products, and a few are start-ups looking to test their concepts.

 

FIRC singapore poly
Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre has seen growing interest in alternative protein production, in the past two to three years, representatives said. Half of its 10 plant-based protein projects so far started in the past twelve months. (Photo: Rachel Phua)

This plant-based protein work now makes up between 5 and 10 per cent of the centre’s portfolio, and it expects the ratio to go up, especially after it procures an extruder – a machine that turns plant proteins into meat-like structures – by the end of this year.

“There’s a lot more interest in (alternative proteins),” Mr Chai said. “Today, a lot more mainstream consumers are interested because of the story behind sustainability.”

ARE WE TOO LATE TO THE GAME?

The hype around the alternative protein industry’s money-making possibilities has grown. A 2019 Barclays report said the alternative meat market could be worth US$140 billion in a decade, and capture about 10 per cent of the US$1.4 trillion global meat industry, up from just 1 per cent today.

Economic benefits to Singapore specifically have not been forecast, but a Food Frontier report may offer some clues.

The Australian think-tank’s 2019 report estimated that by 2030, the plant-based meat sector could generate A$2.9 billion (US$2.2 billion) in retail sales, A$1.1 billion in manufacturing and create more than 6,000 full-time jobs in the country. This is exponentially more than the A$150 million in retail sales, A$29.9 million in manufacturing and 265 full-time roles it supported in 2018 and 2019.

Despite the optimism surrounding the alternative protein sector, local companies are up against some immense competition.

“The plant-based space, in that space you can see the Impossibles, the Beyonds – the other big players are already out there (and) very aggressive,” Dr Teng said.

As for cellular meat, Dr Teng pointed to Dutch player Mosa Meat and its American counterpart Memphis Meats, which are far ahead in their fundraising and pulled in US$86 million and US$181.1 million in funding, according to data from Crunchbase.

“(It is) a lot more than what our local companies have received,” he said. By comparison, cell-based seafood maker Shiok Meats, probably the best-known cultivated meat maker in Singapore, has raised US$20.4 million so far,based on Crunchbase’s numbers.

With its rising middle class and their growing appetite for meat, China could also be a formidable contender in the lab-grown meat space, said Mr Ive.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if China, in the next 18 months, deregulates also,” he said. “I’m starting to believe that China is starting to look at cell-based as a way of providing protein for its population.”

And then there are the conventional meat titans that are ploughing in huge amounts of resources to get a slice of the pie. In the past two years, Tyson Foods, Hormel, JBS and Cargill have launched their own alternative meat products.

Cargill and Tyson Foods both participated in Memphis Meats’ US$161 million fundraising round last January. It was Cargill’s second investment with the company; it has also put in at least US$100 million with pea-protein producer Puris.

However, for such a nascent industry, some think the alternative proteins market still has room for many new entrants.

“I think this is such a huge space. It’s not like one country is suddenly going to provide meat to the whole world,” said Ms Elaine Siu, an advisor and former managing director to The Good Food Institute Asia-Pacific, an advocacy group for plant-based and cultivated meat development.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Money too is not bounded by international borders, said investors and start-ups.

“Smart money will flow to where the best and most innovative ideas are,” said Mr Terence Tan, Ants Innovate’s general manager. The firm is closing its seed round of funding by the end of this quarter, he said, declining to disclose the exact amount – which in the single-digit millions – but highlighting that it is led by a local food business.

His company, he said, had received inquiries from investors in the US, Europe and other parts of Asia, and he is hopeful that the company will be able to raise much more after it pilots its cell meat product by the end of this year.

“(That) the funding scene in Singapore is not as attractive … some people had alerted us about it,” said Mr Andre Menezes, Next Gen’s co-founder and a former general manager of Impossible Foods’ distributor in Singapore, Country Foods. It plans to launch its chicken product and close its next fundraising round in March.

Mr Menezes declined to reveal how much they are raising currently but said it is “substantially bigger” than the US$2.2 million it got in seed funding.

“(But) we’re not setting up a Singapore business. We’re setting up a global business out of Singapore … (and) the investors did understand the fact,” he said. “We had no issue in terms of being able to defend our valuation.”

WILL CONSUMERS BITE?

The greater challenge, industry players agreed, lies in getting the consumers’ buy-in.

According to data from Euromonitor International, Singapore’s year-on-year retail sales growth of “free-from-meat” frozen meat substitutes – which is how most plant-based protein brands like Quorn, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods sell their products right now – grew by 26.7 per cent between 2019 and 2020, while traditional meat grew only by 7.4 per cent.

But these frozen meat substitutes raked in only S$900,000 in retail sales last year, while conventional meat made more than S$1 billion.

Meanwhile, “free-from-meat” chilled meat substitutes, a category dominated by tofu, drew in S$98.7 million last year.

Sales of traditional meat are also expected to grow more quickly than frozen meat alternatives in the coming years, Euromonitor’s data showed, at 19.5 per cent compared to 17.4 per cent between 2021 and 2025.

“One of the initial weaknesses from these global brands lies in its product variants where most are targeting beef (when) pork is still the main type of meat consumed in Asia as compared to beef,” said Ms Aileen Supriyadi, a senior analyst at the market research firm.

“Furthermore, Asians are highly proud of their dishes, making it highly important for meat alternative players to make products that can be incorporated into these dishes,” she added.

And when it comes to lab-grown meat, even though most brands are still in the development phase, the industry might need to spend more time convincing the public to try their products.

A YouGov Omnibus survey conducted last December, which polled 1,068 Singaporeans, found that 42 per cent of them would not eat cultured meat. Another 14 per cent were still undecided.

Among those who said they would avoid lab-grown meat, the top three reasons were a preference to eat “real” meat since it is available, worries about the possible side effects, and simply disliking the idea of “eating something artificial”.

Although the technology has been declared by cell-meat makers as a solution to zoonotic diseases, climate change, workers’ safety and animal cruelty, 25 per cent said they disagreed that eating it is better for the environment than conventional meat, while another 42 per cent were undecided.

“People’s perception is the biggest fear we all have,” said Mr Srinivas. His company, with Ants Innovate and other local cell-meat players, came together at the end of January for the first time to discuss how best to market their creations in the future and tackle regulatory hurdles overseas.

“We don’t want to be the next GMO,” he emphasised, referring to the bad reputation genetically modified food has got among consumers, despite most credible science-based bodies and the World Health Organization affirming its safety.

Messaging, legislation and money aside, keeping the alternative protein industry going could perhaps boil down to one solution: Giving diners a bang for their buck.

“If we have a product that tastes as good, if not better than the conventional animal products, and it costs the same if not less … that is how a product would win no matter what,” said the Good Food Institute’s Ms Siu.

“That would drive the whole scene much, much faster than anything else.”

Collaborating with Big Idea VenturesBel Group looks to support the former’s new protein fund that is dedicated to encourage seed and early-stage investments in plant-based and cell-based innovation and companies.

With a target to raise US$50 million since its launch in 2019, Big Idea Ventures (BIV) was looking to receive support from major companies in Europe and with dairy and food snacking company, Bel joining them, the company hopes to open a Paris accelerator this year adding to BIV’s existing four accelerator programs that runs in New York and Singapore every year.

The New Protein Fund aims to invest and accelerate companies in plant-based and cell-based meat, and snacks and the accelerator program will give an opportunity for early-stage companies to build and test their ideas.

Founded in 1865 and based in Suresnes, France, Bel Group has several brands under its name such as BabyBel, The Launching Cow, Boursin and Kirias, and many more with consumers in more than 120 countries. The partnership among the two companies will strengthen the expertise and capacity for accelerating projects and integrating them into the Protein Fund.

Apart from Bel group, Buhler Group has also extended its support to BIV’s protein fund.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Andrew D. Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures mentioned that the investment by Bel will be crucial in boosting the growth of the alt protein sector in Europe. “This investment by Bel — based in Paris and a major global player in single-serving healthy snacking — will provide the New Protein Fund with more than additional capital. It is a strategic partnership to continue investing in and supporting the world’s most promising entrepreneurs who are actively creating the future of alternative proteins in Europe and beyond.”

This investment by Bel — based in Paris and a major global player in single serving healthy snacking — will provide the New Protein Fund with more than additional capital. It is a strategic partnership to continue investing in and supporting the world’s most promising entrepreneurs who are actively creating the future of alternative proteins in Europe and beyond

Andrew D. Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures

Caroline Sorlin, general manager of Bel’s Plant-Based Acceleration Unit explained that it is crucial to support companies in the very beginning for the offerings to become a reality. “By identifying and supporting as early as possible the start-ups and projects involved in inventing tomorrow’s food, Bel is demonstrating its desire to make these solutions a reality and make them accessible to all. This partnership embodies our model: constantly innovating, co-constructing with all those who share our values and vision. Plant-based products now complement our milk-based offer: consumers are more and more looking for a plant-based offer and we aim to provide them with a quality proposition.”

Through this partnership, Bel Group joins Tyson Ventures and Temasek in supporting plant-based companies through accelerator programs.

This partnership embodies our model: constantly innovating, co-constructing with all those who share our values and vision. Plant-based products now complement our milk-based offer: consumers are more and more looking for a plant-based offer and we aim to provide them with a quality proposition

Caroline Sorlin, general manager of Bel’s Plant-Based Acceleration Unit

Bel Group announced last year that it will launch 100% plant-based products within the range of its main brands, including popular Laughing Cow, Babybel and Boursin, as well as under a new international brand that is has not disclosed.

BIV recently announced another fund, the Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) fund to support rural communities and boost their economy through food protein innovation.

At the moment, BIV has invested in over 20 companies such as India’s Evo Foods, a Mumbai-based food-tech along with collaborating with Ashika Group, one of India’s leading retail financial services companies to establish a new investment fund and accelerator program that will support India’s alternative protein industry.

A recent survey showed that 70% of western European consumers support a 0% VAT rate on vegetables and fruits and a higher VAT on meat products and these findings are similar to another study showing a growing acceptance of non-meat diets in Germany as well as France, reflecting the growing demand for plant-based food by conscious consumers in the country.

To meet this growing need, Plant & Bean, a British developer and manufacturer of plant-based food products will open the largest plant-based meat production facility in Europe with the plan to set up two more sites in the U.S. and Asia.

The director of family office Rumah Group describes how she is carving her own path in the social impact and marine conservation sectors

In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.

As an ambassador for Project Aware, a non-profit organisation promoting change in the areas of shark conservation and marine litter, Kathlyn Tan makes regular dive trips to collect marine debris. But she vividly recalls one particular dive in the waters off Tioman Island in October 2019, when she was desperately trying to avoid getting entangled with a long rope in front of her.

“It’s been my most memorable dive, but it was also the most frightened I’ve ever been,” said the certified Padi divemaster and freediver, who also co-founded Coastal Natives, a community of like-minded ocean lovers and conservationists.

When she isn’t exploring the depths of the oceans, Tan works closely with her father Stanley Tan and husband Thomas Riber Knudsen on furthering the social impact goals of her family’s investment company, Rumah Group. She expands on her father’s efforts to balance business projects with humanitarian work and new environmental and sustainability initiatives, as well as impact investments.

Most recently, she oversaw investments in Big Idea Ventures’ US$50 million New Protein Fund, which supports plant-based and alternative protein startups, as well as in a yet-to-be-launched fund by Circulate Capital focused on advancing technological innovation in managing and preventing plastic waste from polluting the oceans.

Here, Tan describes her work in her own words.

I’ve always been inspired by how my father manages to balance both profit and non-profit work. When I was still working outside of the family business, there were moments that made me aware that commercial operations driven purely by profit were not for me. I later decided that it would be a shame to give up the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, so I joined the Rumah Group.

The time I’ve spent in and around the ocean has opened my eyes to the human impact on a world that not many of us get to see. From once-thriving reefs now overfished with hardly a fish to see, to reefs turned to rubble after being blown up by dynamite, it’s difficult to see places that you love being destroyed. I believe it is in each of our powers to act for a world we want to see.

After a near-drowning experience as a child, my parents sent me to swim school where it quickly became something I enjoyed. The comfort I get being in the water has allowed me to enjoy some wonderful experiences underwater. I had my first taste of scuba diving in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef more than 10 years ago, and since then have been very lucky to have encountered spectacular wildlife, from sharks to dolphins to rays. It’s also motivated me to learn to freedive as well.

I was a vegetarian off and on as a teenager. It wasn’t until my early 20s, when I watched the American documentary Earthlings and read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, that I started to see the realities and economics of factory farming and industrial fishing. Needless to say, I’ve been a vegetarian since.

Creating positive change often requires doing things differently. You need to step up, take risks and put yourself out there, which can be uncomfortable but also very rewarding.

The most rewarding part about working with family has got to be the trust that we have in one another. No matter the uncertainty in a situation, we can always be radically transparent without judgement and know that we have each other’s backs because family always comes first.

French cheesemaker Bel Group has partnered with Big Idea Ventures to accelerate plant- and cell-based protein projects.

Bel Group, the France-based cheese giant, is collaborating with hybrid venture firm Big Idea Ventures to help accelerate projects involving alt-proteins.

BIV announced in September 2020 that it was raising up to $50 million to invest in alt-protein startups as part of its New Protein Fund. It currently runs accelerator programmes in New York and Singapore, but has mentioned its plans to launch an edition in Paris later this year.

Bel Group, which has BabyBel, The Launching Cow, Boursin, and Kiri amongst its brands, is collaborating with BIV to advance the development of alternative proteins. It joins Bühler, Tyson Ventures and Tamesak, to name a few, in providing funding for up to 100 plant- and cell-based startups through the accelerator programmes.

The New Protein Fund was established to provide seed and early-stage investments in plant- and cell-based food, ingredient and technology brands. Andrew Ive, founder and general managing partner of BIV, said: “This investment by Bel — based in Paris and a major global player in single-serve healthy snacking — will provide the New Protein Fund with more than additional capital.

“It is a strategic partnership to continue investment in and supporting of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs who are actively creating the future of alternative proteins in Europe and beyond.” ​

BIV currently runs four accelerator programmes annually in New York and Singapore, but with Bel Group’s support, the American firm hopes to start an accelerator in Paris in 2021.

The dairy giant says the partnership aligns with its commitment to “enabling a better balance between plant and animal proteins in food”. It has already revealed its plans to sell plant-based products within its main brands’ ranges as well as a new international brand.

“By identifying and supporting as early as possible the startups and projects involved in inventing tomorrow’s food, Bel is demonstrating its desire to make these solutions a reality and make them accessible to all,” ​said Caroline Smith, general manager of Bel’s Plant-Based Acceleration unit.

She added: “Plant-based products now complement our milk-based offer: consumers are more and more looking for a plant-based offer and we aim to provide them with a quality proposition.”

Lorem ipsum | Vietnam | cesiscompany.vn

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