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It’s lunchtime in Shanghai’s leafy former French Concession, and every table is crammed at David Yeung’s new café and grocery, Green Common. Office workers and shoppers huddled against the January chill are wolfing down plates of katsu curry, noodles and spicy dumplings.

For Yeung, the popularity of his first outlet on the Chinese mainland is a source of considerable pride, given that its doors opened barely two weeks earlier. But he’s more pleased by its other distinction: no animal products grace the menu at all. Instead, plant-based alternative proteins, sourced from China, Korea and the U.S., are used in these traditionally meat-based dishes. “The idea is to showcase some of the best products from around the world so that people can enjoy a mind-blowing vegan meal,” says Yeung, who is also the founder of the Hong Kong plant-based protein firm OmniFoods.

The buzz around Green Common is another sign that China is on the cusp of a plant-based-protein revolution that has investors as well as diners licking their lips. China came by its love of meat only recently; in the 1960s, the average Chinese person consumed less than 5 kg of meat annually. But as in comes soared following Deng Xiaoping’s market-driven “reform and opening” of the late 1970s, consumption rose to 20 kg per capita by the late 1980s and has now reached 63 kg. Today, China consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork.

But as in rapidly modernizing societies everywhere, today’s Chinese are embracing healthier lifestyles, not least following health crises like the coronavirus pandemic and African swine fever (ASF), which wiped out half of China’s hog herd between 2018 and 2019. China’s market for plant-based meat substitutes was estimated at $910 million in 2018—compared with $684 million in the U.S.—and is projected to grow 20% to 25% annually. KFC has begun selling plant-based chicken nuggets. Yeung’s pork substitute OmniPork is now on the menu across China at thousands of Taco Bell and Starbucks branches, where it is used to make everything from tacos to salads. Competitor Z-Rou—rou is Mandarin for meat—is offered by supermarkets, restaurants and two dozen school canteens.

The implications could be transformative not just for China but also for the world. More than any other nation, China has the ability to leverage economies of scale. It has done so many times before: some of China’s richest entrepreneurs positioned themselves at the vanguard of breakthrough technology slated to receive huge state backing, such as solar panels, mobile payments and electric vehicles. Li Hejun, dubbed the nation’s solar-panel king, rose to become China’s richest man in 2015 with a fortune worth $30 billion by riding a wave of renewable-energy subsidies that also caused prices to plummet and spurred widespread their adoption. State backing for AI unveiled in 2016 helped spawn top tech firms including TikTok parent ByteDance, the world’s most valuable unicorn, worth some $100 billion.

Could the state do the same for meatless meat? Just as international food conglomerates like Nestlé, Unilever and Cargill are plowing millions into plant-based protein, Chinese competitors are jostling for market share in anticipation of huge state contracts and government perks like tax breaks and free factory space. David Ettinger, a partner at Keller and Heckman LLP’s Shanghai office, says now is “the most exciting time” of his two decades specializing in food law: “Rather than managing things, I think China will let the industry lead.”

The largest impact may be not on the economy but on the environment. China has already pledged to see carbon emissions peak by 2030 and make the world’s worst polluter carbon-neutral by 2060. As livestock farming produces 20% to 50% of all man-made greenhouse gases, finding alternative protein sources is crucial to meeting these targets. Halving China’s animal-agriculture sector could result in a 1 billion metric-ton reduction of CO2 emissions. Crucially, state action could have real consequences—China’s authoritarian system enables it to dictate commercial priorities and consumer behavior across its 1.4 billion population. While Donald Trump disparaged global warming as “an expensive hoax,” Joe Biden has called it “an existential threat.” Whether the superpowers can work together on this issue may ultimately define whether the world can meet its emissions targets over the next decade. “You can’t do anything on climate change unless you bring China with you,” says professor Nick Bisley, dean of humanities and social sciences at Australia’s La Trobe University.

The ripple effects would be felt globally. Apart from reducing carbon emissions, water consumption and the risk of zoonotic pathogens entering the human population, switching to plant-based protein can help safeguard rain forests cleared for the cultivation of animal feed and protect people against the heart disease, cancer and diabetes associated with heavy meat consumption.

There’s still some way to go before China eagerly embraces novel proteins. The higher cost and un-familiar taste of meat substitutes may prove to be obstacles to turning plant-based protein into an everyday staple across the world’s largest population. Regulators also need to give the industry sufficient room to flourish. But entrepreneurs like Yeung say it’s getting easier to make a case to bureaucrats and consumers alike. “After the last few years, it’s no secret that meat production is infinitely risky,” he says. “Disease and extreme climate issues are sadly not going to change unless we make a change first.”

Until recently, the primary motivation for people to shun meat was concern for animal welfare. Not anymore. Today, broader concerns about the environment and health are energizing millennials and Gen Z globally to embrace flexitarian lifestyles, where animal products are purged from diets at least some of the time. As in the U.S., China’s cosmopolitan cities are leading the way. In 2008, just 5% of Hong Kongers classified themselves as vegan or flexitarian, according to a Hong Kong Vegetarian Society survey. Today, it’s 40%.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, which was first detected in China, governments and consumers around the world are more cognizant of the swelling risks posed by industrial farming and reliance on imported food. But COVID-19 wasn’t the only, or even the first, alarm bell. The ASF outbreak that decimated China’s pig population in 2019 resulted in national pork output hitting a 16-year low. In December, Japan suffered its worst avian flu outbreak on record, which led to the culling of 5 million chickens. Vince Lu, the founder of Beijing-based alternative-protein firm Zhenmeat, says the pandemic, the trade war and environmental degradation are galvanizing interest in plant-based proteins. “China urgently needs an alternative meat supply,” he says. “It’s about national security.”

Chinese consumers have turned plant-based meat alternatives into a $910 million industry and growing
Chinese consumers have turned plant-based meat alternatives into a $910 million industry and growing Xiaopeng Yuan for TIME

Signs are building that the state will put its weight behind plant-based meat. China’s government has published guidelines to cut meat consumption in half by 2030 to reduce pollution and combat obesity. In August, President Xi Jinping launched a “clean plate campaign,” calling food waste “shocking and distressing” and highlighting the need to “maintain a sense of crisis about food security” in China. For David Laris, an Australian celebrity chef and environmentalist who has had restaurants in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and London, “It’s just a matter of time before Xi says we’ve all got to eat less meat in a big way.”

Culturally, the Chinese are perhaps better placed to embrace plant-based protein than Americans indoctrinated by a powerful meat lobby and a founding myth built around cowboys and beef ranches. (Even so, many Americans are fast changing their eating habits; alternative milks like soy, oat and almond accounted for less than 1% of the overall U.S. market a decade ago. Now it’s 12% and growing.)

In China, by contrast, “mock meat” has been popular with Buddhists, who often do not eat meat, since the Tang dynasty, with tofu a substitute for fish and taro for shrimp. Fried dough sticks dunked in soy milk—records of which date back 1,000 years—remain a popular breakfast across the Middle Kingdom. Vegetarian restaurants are commonplace near Buddhist temples and shrines. Every Chinese supermarket stocks a dazzling array of bean curd and substitute meat products made with gluten.

This kind of familiarity is helping plant-based protein go beyond the purview of “tree huggers,” as Yeung puts it. In January, Chinese fried-chicken franchise Dicos—a KFC rival and one of China’s top three fast-food chains—swapped the real egg in all its breakfast sandwiches with an alternative derived from mung beans made by California-based Eat Just. At the BrewDog pub in Shanghai, customers quaff craft porters and pilsners over games of shuffleboard while ordering nachos and burgers from a menu that proudly offers both meat- and plant-based options. “Around 30% of sales today are plant-based,” says general manager Gabriel Wang. Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick, who recently opened his first foreign office in Shanghai, predicts that by 2030 the majority of eggs, chicken, pork and beef consumed by urban Chinese won’t require animal ingredients. “It’s going to happen a lot faster than people realize, and Asia will lead the way,” he says.

But popularizing plant-based meat beyond China’s cities might be a greater challenge. Government guidelines promoting plant-based proteins for factory canteens and school cafeterias would play an enormous part in reducing costs and raising public awareness. Some private schools are already electing to feed students with meat alternatives; for example, Dulwich College high school in Shanghai serves weekly meals prepared with Z-Rou. But as budgets for lunches in government-run schools stand around 7 rmb ($1.08) per student, state intervention in the form of subsidies and mandatory quotas may be necessary to make plant-based options feasible across the board. Given the potential size of school contracts, this could be transformative—and also familiarize the next generation with meat alternatives. “If we want to win a customer for life, students are a great place to start,” says Z-Rou founder Frank Yao.

The fact that plant-based proteins are currently priced considerably higher than their animal equivalents is an undeniable hurdle for notoriously thrifty Chinese consumers. Yet this is expected to change as competition and scale drive down costs. Moreover, snowballing agricultural crises like avian flu and ASF can make meat prices extremely erratic. Pork prices more than doubled in China in 2019 following an ASF outbreak, making it extremely difficult for restaurateurs to both keep customers smiling and turn a profit. That plant-based proteins are largely immune to such fluctuations—and help mitigate disease outbreaks that cause spikes in meat prices—is a huge boon across the industry.

The biggest barrier to plant-based meats might be its most elemental: taste. While the industry has come on by leaps and bounds over recent years, elderly Chinese so obsessed with freshness that they trawl wet markets that sell meat and fish could prove a stumbling block to widespread adoption of processed, packaged alternatives.

That will change over generations, for sure, although now the race is on to engineer plant-based meat products specifically to Chinese tastes. Whereas the popularity of ground beef in the West makes it the obvious starting point, Chinese diners typically have far wider tastes, including meatballs for hot pot, filling for dumplings or strips of meat for stir-fries. Zhenmeat is even working on a plant-based shrimp substitute. “Right now, the technology’s not ready for plant protein to make the texture of a chunk or slice of meat,” says Zhenmeat’s Lu. “It will require investment and patience.”

Still, the technology is so undeveloped that there is endless potential to improve taste and cut costs. There are existing protein-synthesis techniques—incorporating fermentation, micro-algae and insects—used in cosmetics, biomedicine or industry processes that could potentially be repurposed for food. “We’re starting from scratch here,” says Yao of Z-Rou. “So why can’t China create brands and have a seat on the table for what the future of food is going to be?”

Albert Tseng, co-founder of impact investment firm Dao Foods, is backing 30 startups that focus on the Chinese plant-based-protein market, including established player Starfield. One venture is utilizing cell-based meat, or animal protein grown in a laboratory. Although more controversial than synthesizing meat from everyday plant materials like soy or wheat, the technology is growing fast. In 2017, China signed a $300 million deal to import cultured-meat technology from Israel. At last year’s Two Sessions annual parliament, Sun Baoguo, president of the Beijing Technology and Business University, argued cell-based meat alternatives were a matter of “strategic importance” to “guarantee China’s future meat supply.” For Tseng, “there are the talent, resources and capital in China to really build this industry.”

It’s already happening elsewhere. In November, Eat Just, the maker of Just Egg, became the first firm anywhere to receive regulatory approval for selling cultivated meat, after being given the green light in Singapore for its lab-grown chicken. With the coronavirus galvanizing anxiety over the fragility of food supply chains, the tiny city-state has set ambitious new targets to produce 30% of its food domestically by 2030. But given that less than 1% of Singapore’s 270-sq.-mi. area is agricultural land, innovations like vertical farming and cellular meat will be key. Many other governments are becoming more accepting of alternatives. “In places like China and Singapore, there’s less of a fixation about what happened yesterday and more on what makes sense for today and tomorrow,” says Tetrick.

There would be losers in a major shift toward meat alternatives. Beyond the disruption to China’s $82 billion meat market, there’s also the fact that 60% of soy grown across the world is currently shipped to China, mainly for animal feed. The success of plant-based protein may decimate crop demand and prices worldwide, upending markets and roiling politics. The question for all, says Yeung, “is do the collective wins outweigh the losses?”

Given the weight of scientific evidence, it’s growing ever harder to justify eating meat as simply a personal choice. Much like smoking in public, Yeung says, eating steak and bacon every day has collateral environmental impact that jeopardizes the future of everyone. China, like the world, is waking up to the risks of asking our planet to support 7.7 billion people as well as 677 million pigs, 1.5 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 23 billion chickens. “The reality is that industrial livestock farming isn’t sustainable,” says Yeung. “We don’t have a choice. We have to change.”

With reporting by Madeline Roache/London

This appears in the February 1, 2021 issue of TIME.

NEW YORK – The founders behind food and agriculture investor Big Idea Ventures LLC are seeking to address some of the world’s most pressing problems — hunger, climate change, pollution and more. They are seeking to support entrepreneurs whose ideas may contribute to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges or bring disruption to staid categories.

“When Andrew Ive founded Big Idea Ventures he discussed tackling those big challenges and we have to find the mechanisms to do it,” said Tom Mastrobuoni, chief investment officer. “All the large food companies have made admirable goal statements about plastics, water and greenhouse gas emissions. But this is an issue that goes beyond sustainability.

“Hunger is an ongoing challenge. We still have food deserts in urban areas. We already produce enough calories to feed everyone. We’re failing by not delivering. We need big ideas, but this is not as complicated as traveling to Mars. We are taking on those challenges that have been with us for a long time.”

With offices in New York and Singapore, the company currently has two investment funds and two accelerator programs. Big Idea’s New Protein Fund totals $50 million and invests in early-stage plant-based and cell-based startups as well as the ingredients and technologies that support such businesses.

Big Idea’s Generation Food Fund is raising $250 million under management and targets technologies and companies that will transform the global food system by reducing plastics, water, waste and carbon emissions throughout the supply chain.

Tom Mastrobuoni, Big Idea VenturesPrior to joining Big Idea Ventures, Mr. Mastrobuoni was chief financial officer for Tyson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, Inc. While working for Tyson Foods, he led investments in Beyond Meat, Clear Labs, Future Meat Technologies, Memphis Meats, MycoTechnology and New Wave Foods.

“We want to flip the paradigm,” Mr. Mastrobuoni said. “Our job is to find entrepreneurs and solutions to the problems the industry faces. For example, we understand packaging is a challenge. We also know the recycling system we have doesn’t work. So, let’s find materials, no matter what they are, that will break down.”

Big Idea’s first investment under its Generation Food platform was in New Wave Foods, Stamford, Conn., the manufacturer of plant-based shellfish. This investment was made in partnership with Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat and was part of New Wave Foods’ Series A round of $18 million that was headed by NEA, a global venture capital firm.

“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, chief executive officer 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.”

Mr. Mastrobuoni said the shrimp category is growing at two-times the rate of other seafood categories but has production issues.

“If people knew what shrimp farming overseas is like and what they are fed, most people would never it eat again,” he said. “Plant-based seafood is interesting. This is an opportunity to bring a new option to market.”

He added that the lack of competitors in the plant-based shrimp market made New Wave Foods attractive as well.

New Wave Foods Buddha Bowl made with plant-based shrimp“There is a lot of activity in the ground meat and patty segments,” Mr. Mastrobuoni said. “Shrimp is relatively uncrowded and interesting.”

When asked about Big Idea’s focus on plant-based and cell-based companies, Mr. Mastrobuoni said one word — “consumers.”

“They are begging for options,” he said. “When I give talks I tell people that if they want to understand the heart of the US consumer to look at the cereal aisle of any grocery store. US consumers want options.”

The investment firm manages two accelerator classes each year from its offices in New York and Singapore. Over five months, Big Idea staff and mentors work with entrepreneurs to help them prepare for growth and scale. Startups that participated in the most recent New York cohort included Novel Farms, the maker of a marbled cultured meat product; Orbillion Bio, a cell-based meat manufacturer; MeliBio, which uses microbiology to grow sustainable honey; Biftek.co, the maker of a cell-based meat media that replaces fetal-bovine serum; and Yoconut, a dairy alternative innovator.

Mr. Mastrobuoni said venture capital investing in food and the systems that support the industry has been a challenge since COVID-19 began.

“For starters, there are no conferences,” he said. “This is something that requires a personal relationship. It’s a sign of respect to go to an investor’s office and present yourself. That’s been missing since March 13.

“We’re also at a point where we’re trying to figure out if COVID is a long-term issue. The vaccine data says it may be with us for a while, or it could be a temporal anomaly. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s happening at the moment.

At Trellis Road we’re always thinking about how we can be helpful for early stage high-impact foodtech startup founders, and one question that we often encounter is how to finance great ideas and products during the early days. 

Whilst we’re always happy to recommend great founder friendly investors in our network, we also encourage founders to also look into the many other great financing sources out there. Here we’ve put together an A to Z list of over 50 incubators, accelerators and grants relevant for foodtech startups that are looking for capital and meaningful support.

In addition, this is a really useful database with lots of smaller accelerators or investment funds based all over the world, with details of available funding and any application requirements.

As always with these things, it’s an ever-changing landscape so please add a comment or get in touch (anna@trellisroad.com) if there are others that we should add to the list.

The A-Z of Foodtech Incubators, Accelerators & Grants

A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) — Singapore: this government-funded agency offers different funding options to support individuals, resources, ideas and major initiatives. Its Alternative Protein program, for example, grants up to S$15M ($11.4M) per proposal, which must meet Singapore’s food security and food resilience goals. To be eligible, a company Director should hold at least 0.7 FTE primary appointment in a Singapore publicly funded research or tertiary education, run a laboratory or research program that carries out research in Singapore and have a track record of leadership ability in coordinating research programs and providing mentorship to research teams, as well as having productive research outcomes. Typical grant size: variable.

Accelerance — Denmark: the number one accelerator in the Nordics, established for nearly ten years, with a startup survival rate of over 88%. The program is funded by the Danish government and by leading Danish and International corporates with the goal of attracting talent and creating growth, so there are no fees and they don’t take any equity. The training is remote, but you do need to register your company in Denmark and have some activity there to qualify. Its Waoo corporate matchmaking program is seeking startups working with data, including predictive maintenance, anomaly detection, proactive customer service, data processing & cleaning and P2P mesh connectivity; application deadline is 4th February. Typical grant size: €67k for tech startups.

Batch Ventures — UK: this accelerator is a pretty specific program to back innovation in baked goods, as it’s a partnership between Mission Ventures and the UK’s largest bakery brand, Warburtons. It offers a free 12 week intensive business review, and investment of £50k-£250k is available in exchange for a minority stakeholding. Typical investment size £50k-£250k.

Big Idea Ventures New Protein Fund & Accelerator — USA & Singapore: this fund invests twice a year alongside providing mentors, advisors, a test kitchen and industry connections to ensure its companies’ products can be scaled to meet global demand. The accelerator takes five months and is very intensive, though the next program may start virtually if the current global situation doesn’t resolve itself. The latest cohorts include startups such as Novel Farms, Inc, Orbillion Bio, Biftek.co, Gaia and Peace of Meat, all working on cell-based meat or cell culture media. BIV also just announced that it is teaming with Ashika Group to launch an alternative protein fund in India. It takes applications constantly, so get yours in to be considered for the next cohort.Typical investment size: variable.

Blue Ocean Xlerator — Netherlands: BOX provides a support network for the admin side of a startup: writing a business plan, bookkeeping, funding, housing, negotiating contracts and monitoring networks, which all take a lot of time when you really need to be focusing on tech and creating a foothold in the market. At BOX you work alongside 35 colleagues and fellow entrepreneurs with relevant knowledge and experience and the same drive, and need to bring a winning mindset. You can apply any time. Typical grant size: N/A.

Brinc — Six Worldwide Locations: this accelerator offers various programs in different locations. It comprises six weeks of on-site training followed by six weeks remotely, and the fund will invest $80,000 for a negotiable equity percentage. The catch, though, is that each startup needs to pay $30,000 to be included in the cohort. Applications are always open because the programs are so frequent. Typical investment size: $50k after fees.

Chobani Food Tech Residency — USA: this incubator is focused on helping packaged food and beverage brands to scale their businesses, and includes tailored programming based on the needs of the startups, held at Chobani’s premises. Applications are currently closed, and the program only caters to applicants from within the US. Typical investment size: $25k.

Dao Foods — China: this accelerator’s Venture Fund 1 will support and invest in 30 alternative protein companies over the next three years. It invests 500,000 RMB in each company in a bid to increase the velocity of quality alternative protein development in China, which it views as a ‘huge business opportunity with massive social impact.’ Typical investment size: $75k.

Eatable Adventures — Spain: it was the first food entrepreneurship community, first European early-stage food investment network, and has worked with over 25,000 startups and over 500 projects each year since its inception. Its accelerator program takes four months, is intensive and hands on, and connects startups with its international mentor network. Typical grant size: N/A.

EIC Accelerator  EU: part of the European Innovation Council pilot to support market-creating innovations, with a budget which has nearly doubled since 2018 and now stands at €819M. If successful, projects will receive between €0.5M and €2.5M in the form of grants, and should take 12–24 months to complete. There is now an option to obtain extra financing through equity sacrifice, as well as access to business innovation coaching and a community platform for successful applicants. To be eligible, companies must be established in an EU member state or a Horizon 2020-associated country, and must be a for-profit SME. Typical grant/investment size: variable.

EIT Climate-KIC  EU: invests in clean technology, agriculture and green energy and takes an ‘open innovation’ approach to mentorship. It works on an innovation model of knowledge exchange and technology transfer it calls the ‘knowledge helix’. Typical investment size: €20k.

EIT Food — EU: this umbrella covers several Food Business Creation Programs, including a Seedbed Incubator and a Food Accelerator Network for coaching and support, plus various seed funds as well as Innovation Prizes for early-stage agrifood startups, and even Legal & Accounting support. To apply for the FAN, agri-food startups must be in pre-seed stage, a registered company with technology and customer readiness levels between 5 and 8, active in the EU or EU associated countries and committed to the program. Typical grant size: €100k for the winner.

Fishing Tech — Spain: connecting the experience and contacts of leading companies in the fishing industry with innovative technology startups and companies around the world. Applications are open now, and there are zero equity requirements. Typical grant size: N/A

FoodBytes! — USA: historically a physical pitch competition, FoodBytes! has gone virtual in 2020, continuing to deliver on its mission to build lasting connections between forward- thinking startups, corporates and investors in food & agriculture. 45 startups take part in a virtual bootcamp, which is three weeks of work spread across a couple of months, then the top 15 pitches are live-streamed to a global audience. No pressure! Typical grant size: N/A.

Food’Inn Lab — France: the aim of this incubator is to create more links between research teams, students and entrepreneurs of AgroParisTech, with office space, labs and test kitchens provided. Typical grant size: N/A.

FoodStars — The Netherlands: an option with a community feel. In exchange for 2% equity share, FoodStars will provide a 12 month program which covers a company deep dive, mentorship and training, networking and use of co-working office space. Applications are always open, or you can refer any startups you may know who may be a good fit. Typical grant size: N/A.

Food System 6  USA: a non-profit based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to support impact-driven entrepreneurs as they transform how we grow, produce, and distribute food. All participating for-profit companies contribute 1.5% equity to FS6 upon acceptance into the program. Typical investment size: $25k.

Foodtech.ac — Poland: the program, which takes place in Warsaw, held its most recent Demo Day in December. It requires two full days each week plus additional ‘homework’, and costs around $250 to get involved. Typical grant size: N/A

FoodTech Accelerator — Italy: the team selects 10 startups each year to build and accelerate concrete pilot projects in a 15 week program, including the use of office space in Milan. Previous cohorts include plant-based egg producer Zero Egg, which just launched its products in the US. The applications for this year are closed, but get working on your pitch for next year when applications open again in June. Typical investment size: €20k.

FoodTECH HUB — Brazil: it has a rigorous, five step selection process, but it has a variety of programs for all aspects of the food tech industry. Its four month startup program provides mentorship as well as access to the best venture capital funds in Brazil and abroad, alongside access to national and international events. You can register your interest at any point. Typical grant size: N/A.

FoodX Accelerator — USA: claims to be the number 1 food innovation accelerator in the world, with access to startup capital as well as the potential for follow-on funding, alongside 160+ industry mentors. The applications for the next round have closed, and the program is planned to be virtual until it becomes safe to travel to NYC. FoodX has already helped grow over 100 startups and has funded over 30 seed rounds, and previous cohorts include artisan plant-based meats company The Abbot’s Butcher, plant-based jerky company Kojo and algae-based food company nonfood. Typical investment size: $75k.

Forward Fooding  UK: the first ‘foodtech community’ in London, this innovation hub supports entrepreneurs as they ‘digitize’ their business, to create truly digital brands. There’s a shared workspace, a whole program of workshops and events, plus a media studio, dedicated to content creation. Applications to join the community are always open. Typical grant size: N/A.

Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP) — Denmark: this is the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark’s food and agriculture program, and is focused on both economic and green sustainability development. Research institutes, manufacturers and food startups can apply for grants for development and demonstration projects with or without a research share with a duration of up to 4 years and with a total grant of DKK 0.25–15 million (approx $30k-$1.8M). Typical grant size: variable.

Good Food Fund — UK: This recently-established accelerator is focused on addressing childhood obesity, and has six brands currently active in its program.The 12-month program is free to the participating brands and includes expert coaching against specific business needs, as well as the potential for investment at the end of the program. Typical investment size: variable.

Hatch — Norway, Hawaii, Singapore: focused on aquaculture and alternative seafood innovation. It’s been established for two years and has already invested in more than 30 companies and raised its first $8M fund. The 2020 program is happening right now, and it’s being delivered via a blend of virtual and physical interaction. Typical investment size: $100k — $1M.

The Hatchery — USA: The Hatchery is a startup community space, where tech companies can use the state-of-the-art kitchen facilities plus access courses and events, networking opportunities, financing and mentorship. It takes applications constantly, so why not sign up to be considered? Typical grant size: N/A.

Horizon 2020 — EU: this has been the biggest EU funding program for research and innovation over the last few years with a budget of €80Bn, and despite its name is still currently ongoing. It covers many different high-impact sectors, including Excellent Science, Societal Challenges, Future & Emerging Technologies and Science With and For Society. It was the first of the EU programs to recognise alternative proteins in 2020, and is open to all-stage startups in the hope of accelerating the best possible results. Typical grant size: variable.

IndieBio — USA: one of the ‘big guns’, each of the teams in the intensive four month program receives seed funding, lab and co-working space and dedicated mentorship, as well as becoming a part of IndieBio’s large alumni network. It has accelerated 136 companies to date, with 42% female founders which is higher than in most programs. Typical investment size: $250k.

Innovate UK — UK: part of UK Research & Innovation, and covers a wide variety of funding opportunities for startups across many different industries, handily listed in its funding finder. Grants are variable, but sizable, so if one crops up in your area of interest it is definitely worth applying. Typical grant size: variable

Innovation Fund Denmark — Denmark: has many different programs including, but not limited to: Innofounder Graduate for applicants with a maximum of 24 months since graduation, which is a 12 month program for individuals with a monthly grant of DKK 15,000 ($1.8k), a grant of DKK 35,000 ($4.1k) for development, a mentor, a free work space and workshops; Innofounder Experienced for applicants with significant work or research experience, which is a 12 month program including a monthly grant of DKK 30,000 ($3.5k) plus a grant of DKK 100,000 ($11.8k) for development; InnoBooster for startups as well as established businesses with a grant size of DKK 50,000 ($5.9k) to DKK 5M ($590k). Typical grant size: variable.

Ivoro — Spain: primarily an innovation hub, though did hold an accelerator in 2017. Successful applicants can use its Lab Kitchen to further develop and fully test concepts, and you can register your interest at any time. Typical investment size: $150k.

Katapult Accelerator — Norway: this three month program is now a digital one, and it gets great reviews, with some startups claiming 600% growth through the training. Its fifth batch held its Demo Day in September, and though applications for the next batch are technically closed, you may still be considered if you register your interest. Typical investment size: $150k

Katapult Food — UK: part of the ‘Katapult World’ ecosystem, it provides a 3 month fast-paced, hands-on program based in London, plus access to a global network of mentors and investors. Typical investment size: $150k

Kickstart — Switzerland: an annual innovation program in Switzerland that brings together later-stage startups with corporations, foundations, universities and cities in order to foster deep tech innovation. It takes place in Zurich from September to November, and is only open to Swiss startups. Pre-registration for the 2021 program is open now. Typical investment size: $10k.

Kitchentown — Germany: provides a working space in the heart of Berlin for FoodTech entrepreneurs, with shared and dedicated facilities alongside expertise from professionals in the foodtech industry to help startups prototype and produce new innovation. It admits startups on a monthly basis, there are no application deadlines. Typical investment size: €30k.

Le Village by CA — France: France’s premier accelerator, it provides a network of support, creating links between startups and national businesses, to further innovation and create employment. Typical grant size: N/A.

Mista — USA: rather than an incubator or accelerator, this is a new innovation platform for the food industry. It’s an optimiser, enabling start-ups and established corporations to optimise ideas, products, people and investments, and providing customised solutions for business needs. Applications are always open. Typical grant size: N/A.

NIA Coupon — Thailand: this project provides financial support to innovative SMEs and startups, in the form of coupons up to a total value of 1.5M Baht (around $50k) to be used for commercial development purposes. To be eligible, business innovation models must be scalable, and run by a registered resident of Thailand who owns at least 51% of the share capital. Typical grant size: up to $50k.

Norrsken Impact Accelerator  Sweden: this new impact accelerator was just announced and will run it’s first 8 week programme in Stockholm during the summer 2021. In addition to a $100k investment the startups receive support from successful and experienced entrepreneurs, including unicorn founders. The accelerator is sector agnostic and is open to startups in any area of impact, but this year the cohort will have a special focus on food-tech and agri-tech. Typical investment size: $100k. Note: We (Anna & Erik, founders of Trellis Road) are Venture Partners of the Norrsken Impact Accelerator so we’re obviously very excited about the program and are convinced it will bring tremendous value to the selected startups. Applications are open so fire away!

One Bio — South Africa: the One Bio seed investment fund invests in early-stage biotech startups. Speed to market is critical, so startups need a prototype or form of IP which can be translated to a marketable product as quickly as possible. The fund allocates 85% of its resources to South Africa and 15% to the rest of Africa. It considers applications year-round. Typical investment size $30k — $1.2M, based on the achievement of defined milestones.

The Pearse Lyons Cultivator — Ireland: the world’s leading late-stage agtech accelerator, with four core focus areas: natural immunity, profitable production, sustainable agri-food and optimised nutrition. A three-month innovation program for the top 10 leading agtech startups from across the world. It’s always looking to connect with innovators, so you can apply at any time. Typical investment size: €15k.

Pepsico’s Greenhouse Accelerator  USA: One major focus for this year’s cohort will be on food innovations and technologies that “improve the aging process through wellness and health management.” Companies worldwide are eligible for the program; they must have a product or service currently available in the market, and have more than $1 million. Each startup gets a $20k grant, but one of the cohort will receive an additional $100k grant at the end of the program. All of next year’s events will be virtual. Typical investment size: $20k.

PlantStation  USA: its facility has two fully equipped kitchens, one for the creation of gluten-free products and one for plant-based food products, for use by food entrepreneurs looking to create, test, and produce food innovation. Entrepreneurs pay an annual fee to use the space, so you can apply at any time.Typical grant size: N/A.

ProVeg Incubator — Germany: one of the world’s leading accelerators for mission-driven plant-based and cultured food startups, shaping the future of food by exclusively supporting pioneering companies that are developing disruptive alternatives to animal-based products. It recently announced its latest cohort, and for the first time over half are female-led companies. It accepts the most impactful food startups from all over the world, in all stages of development, and applications to be part of its next cohort are open now until 7th February. Typical grant size: €20k, with the possibility of up to an extra €180k of investment in exchange for 9% equity.

Rockstart — Netherlands: dedicated to AgriFood startups, driving positive change towards a holistic food supply system. There are various different programs for different areas of industry, and previous cohorts include an impressive bunch of innovative startups such as Saillog, whose AI tech allows farmers to identify and treat plant diseases and pests. Typical investment size: €20k.

ShakeUpFactory — France: based in the world’s biggest startup campus, Station F, it’s a six month accelerator program designed to help startups scale their companies. It has an impressive list of ‘graduates’, including Ynsect, whose total financing now stands at $425M, the largest amount ever raised by a non-American agtech business. It’s taking applications now so sign up to get involved. Typical grant size: N/A.

StartLife — Netherlands: since 2010, StartLife has built, supported and funded over 300 startups in foodtech and agtech, with €137M of investment, and has a pretty stellar team of business coaches. It’s constantly accepting applications. Typical investment size: $40k.

Startupbootcamp — Italy: ten high-potential startups complete an intense three month program and achieve progress which would normally take 18 months, ending with a Demo Day to introduce them to investors, industry leaders, corporate executives, mentors and press. Living expenses are covered, office space is provided, plus a bunch of other perks and discounts alongside the program, so it sounds like a pretty sweet deal in return for 6% equity. Typical investment size: €15k.

Til Sjávar Og Sveita — Iceland: “For the sea and the countryside”, this is a business accelerator for innovative companies in agriculture and fishing tech backed by Icelandic startups. Typical grant size: N/A.

ToasterLAB — France: focused on agtech, with 12 months of personalised acceleration support, plus free office space and accommodation during the intensive phase (2–3 months), based in Dijon. It costs €6k to join, but you don’t have to sacrifice any equity. Applications are open now and the deadline is 25th January. Typical grant size: N/A.

Unicef Innovation Fund — global: provides up to $100k equity-free funding to open source frontier tech solutions showing promising results. The funding is intended for prototype testing and validation, and access to a tailored one-to-one mentoring program with the Innovation Fund’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mentors is provided in a program which takes place over 4–5 months and concentrates on topics such as value proposition, competition map, stakeholder map, sales and activities, pricing and business models, growth plan, financial projections, and business and impact focused metrics. Plus, the team page has everyone’s baby pics, so that’s fun. Typical grant size: up to $100k.

Union Kitchen — USA: with more of a focus on packaged goods, this Washington DC accelerator assists with all parts of the food tech supply chain to help brands build products which consumers want to buy. The program’s Kitchen, Distribution and Stores provide the platform to build and grow a company, while also lowering the need for additional capital investment. Union Kitchen has worked with over 650 businesses since 2012, which have collectively created over $350M of revenue. Applications are always open. Typical grant size: N/A.

Urban X — USA: selects up to ten urbantech startups every six months, to take part in a 20 week program for startups facing the unique challenges working with and within cities, particularly in regulated industries and government procurement. Applications for cohort 10 close 8th April. Typical investment size: $100k

X-Europe — Europe: covers all types of futuristic tech, but has a specific accelerator for agtech currently underway. It offers mentorship and training, both in-person and online, plus social media exposure and access to investors. Applications for its Smart Cities & Sustainability cohort will open in March. Typical grant size: N/A.

The Yield Lab — USA: seeking to invest in early-stage agtech companies. Not currently accepting applications for its accelerator programs, which are two-day intensives, but it’s still worth getting in touch for other potential investment opportunities. Typical investment size: $100k.

+Impact Accelerator — The Nordics: this accelerator focused on circular economy will run a batch focused on agrifood starting in March 2021. Accepting startups from the Nordic countries. All sessions are tailor-made for each startup’s specific needs and will be offered digitally. The program will have a physical hub in Stockholm for startups wishing to relocate for the program. Applications are open until February 8th. Typical grant size: N/A.

While the plant-based meat and milk space has seen incredible momentum the last couple of years, cheese has been another story.

It’s not that anyone hasn’t tried. Companies like Treeline have been making vegan cheese for a while, and they’ve certainly found their niche among vegans. Still, for those of us non-vegans who want to try some plant-based alternatives for health or sustainability reasons, there hasn’t really been anything out there that’s really close to the real thing.

Until now. Grounded Foods new line up of plant-based cheese, which will start shipping early in 2021, tastes just like the real thing. I had a chance to try some of their early prototypes in February and was blown away. It had the taste, mouth feel and true cheese funkiness that you expect from the real thing.

In short, if what I tried early last year is anything close to the final product, Grounded Foods might do for cheese what Impossible Foods did for beef.

In this episode, I talk with Grounded Foods CEO and cofounder Veronica Fil. who shares the story of how she came up with the idea for a plant-based cheese that appealed to non-vegans. She also shares how she convinced her co-founder and husband, who was running one of the top restaurants in Australia, that making cheese – not running a restaurant – was the big idea they should pursue.

If you haven’t heard Veronica Fil and Grounded Foods’ story, you’ll definitely want to give it a listen. Just click play below, download direct to your device, or find it on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 


The question of valuation is intimidating for many early-stage startup founders. As a young company with a short history and little to no revenue, there simply isn’t a formula capable of producing a neat round number that objectively represents the value of your business. Valuation, then, becomes the art of making a deal, not the science of building a spreadsheet.

Many factors play into a valuation negotiation with a VC—your business fundamentals, while important, are among the many. The market landscape, the VC’s incentives, and the strength of your network can all factor into the discussion as much, if not more so, than business economics.


For a valuation, the market landscape, the VC’s incentives, and the strength of your network can all factor into the discussion as much, if not more so, than business economics.


1) Understand The Market Landscape

Your valuation can easily be impacted by factors outside of your control. Like many seasoned VCs, George Bischof of Meritech Capital Partners is predicting a slowdown in the market and a drop in venture investing levels due to the Covid-19 crisis. Traditional supply and demand economics exist in the fundraising ecosystem, too—if there are more sources of capital for startups in the market, you’ll have more leverage in the valuation discussion. If there’s less capital in the market, the VC will be the one with more leverage.

Your industry’s market factors also matter in a discussion about valuation. If your business is in a trendy space with growing demand, you’ll be able to command a premium on your valuation. The flip side is also true—if your business is in a space that has seen some headwinds, VCs will have more bargaining power. Businesses in markets with scalable unit economics and low overhead, such as enterprise software, can generally command higher valuations, as can those in very large markets and markets with high growth potential.

2) Understand The VC Perspective

In any negotiation, it’s always important to understand the underlying factors motivating those on the other side of the table. VCs lean heavily on a few top performers to produce the bulk of their fund’s returns; this is known as the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule. With this in mind, be aware that VCs will only invest in businesses that they think have the potential to grow quickly and produce 10-20x returns on the capital invested. “When you take angel and venture capital, there is an expectation that growth will be exponential,” says Rachel Renock, Co-Founder and CEO of Wethos. “If that’s not your vision, use another type of funding.” Selling your big vision and convincing the VC that you have “unicorn potential” will go a long way at the negotiating table.


VCs will only invest in businesses that they think have the potential to grow quickly and produce 10-20x returns on the capital invested.


Another critical component of the investor psyche is FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. Investors often syndicate, or participate in the same deals, as each other, so getting a solid, well-connected VC to lead your round helps you set a high valuation and can also bring more money to the table. VCs make a name for themselves not only by investing in the right businesses, but also by getting in at the right time—“late enough that the pattern is recognizable, but early enough that the market has not yet recognized it,” according to Ha Duong, Principal at Cambrial Capital. No VC wants to miss out on the next big thing, so the better you are at convincing them that’s you, the higher the price they’ll be willing to pay.

3) Use Your Professional and Personal Networks

In fundraising, as in many other areas of the business world, your network is key. The stronger your relationship with the VC sitting across the table, the better your negotiation will go. You’re much more likely to be at the top of a VC’s priority list if you’ve been introduced to them by someone they trust, such as another VC they respect or a founder of one of their current portfolio companies. According to Sonya Brown, General Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, now is an especially inopportune time for cold calls. “If you have a prior relationship or met a firm before in person, that’s going to significantly increase your odds in today’s climate,” she writes.


The stronger your relationship with the VC sitting across the table, the better your negotiation will go.


Although not having a pedigree from a top university or leading tech company can make this harder, there are creative ways to expand your network. Attend events and participate in pitch competitions to grow your brand—try to target ones that VCs you’re trying to get in front of plan to attend. If you aren’t a fit for a VC’s thesis, ask them if they can introduce you to others that might make more sense. If you must send a cold email or LinkedIn message, carefully research and personalize it first—nobody likes receiving spam. Most of all, VCs want to invest in founders they like and feel they can trust; be honest, be authentic, and be yourself.

For an early-stage startup, no easy answer exists to the question of valuation. But with your investor’s interests in mind, a solid business to back you up, and some tried-and-true negotiating tactics, you’ll be able to demand, and receive, what your company is worth.


Abby Lyall is a Vice-President at Big Idea Ventures, a global venture fund focused on early-stage investments in the food and agriculture space.

Today, Singapore is rated as one of the most prepared countries in terms of food security and sustainability – but it is not exempt from global challenges, such as climate change and unpredictable natural disasters. The country needs to keep innovating and creating sustainable food security strategies to ensure that every citizen has access to an adequate supply of safe and nutritious food at affordable prices in the short and long-term. The emergence of youth entrepreneurs can help close this gap in the market by crafting solutions that best fit the needs of every citizen.

One way forward is to build young talent in the food space, and ensure that it is an attractive and rewarding career path. As with any industry, an infusion of bright, young, passionate minds can help to shape the future of food in meaningful ways.

For a closer look at the food security and sustainability ecosystem in the country, we spoke to Dr. Dalal AlGhawas, Programme Director of Big Idea Ventures (BIV) a Venture Capital/Accelerator in Singapore that focuses on investing and accelerating top performers in the new food space. Their first fund, the New Protein Fund I (US$50M) is backed by major institutional investors including Temasek Holdings (global investment firm based in Singapore) and Tyson Foods, a Fortune 100 company. This fund helps provide the resources to further develop products, ingredients and technology in the alternative protein sector, through a hybrid accelerator VC model. Twice a year BIV runs a 5-month accelerator program, to support global early-stage startup companies by investing USD $125K of cash and USD $75K of in-kind services.

Key to Dr. AlGhawas’ vision for BIV is to nurture young entrepreneurs; she wants to “help drive support for innovation within the local Singaporean youth, in combating the wider issues of food security and sustainability in the region.” 

YCLSG_DALAL

 

  1. What are the most innovative solutions you have seen from young people so far?  

Dr. AlGhawas: One of the most innovative solutions I’ve seen are by Zeal Foods who have created affordable, sustainable (plant based) and convenient foods using kaya (coconut jam) and otah (fish cake) for the silver demographic in Singapore. It truly is amazing that the youth are so caring towards their earlier generations. Another one is Nutribites, whose ground breaking solutions use stem cell technology to grow insect byproducts in an ethical and sustainable way, and Habitual, a company that converts coffee grind waste into clothing textiles.

2. How do you evaluate startups for your current fund?

Dr. AlGhawas: We are an early-stage investor so we are more lenient in the way we evaluate the startups. There is no exact or 100% established model for this. But, we do look closely to evaluate the founders and the  extended team’s capability to see if they are coachable, diligent, trustworthy and visionary. The Big Idea Ventures fund is very keen on supporting local talent and helping to support Asian Entrepreneurship, in particular within South East Asia.

3. What kind of support do you provide to these early-stage companies?

Dr. AlGhawas: We help startups from the lab to pilot stage, customising our programme to fit their needs and finding them the right partners to scale-up their production. For slightly more niche products, we help them develop upscaling processes with large manufacturing groups, acting  as a bridge between the founders and potential clients.

Above all, we help to provide them with the right media attention, social media coverage and good connections to industry reporters.

4. What advice would you provide to young social entrepreneurs in Singapore?

Dr. AlGhawas: The investment space is all about connections. The best advice I can give to young social entrepreneurs is to learn how to network and keep good contacts who could be a good support system in the future. I would advise them to look for opportunities to meet as many people as they can, and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Be gutsy, forward and charismatic, because learning how to push for what you want is a good way to be memorable and persuasive

5. Where do you see room to grow the scene in the region in terms of tackling the SDGs around climate change and health?

Dr. AlGhawas: By 2030, based on population growth and growing economic affluence, nearly two-thirds of the world’s spending power will come from Asia Pacific. With this growing number, governments in this region are very keen in promoting the key issues of food security, food safety and creating sustainable food contact materials.

Asia has grown up looking towards North America and Europe as trend setters in terms of environmental challenges, from food security to reducing the carbon footprint. We are hopeful to see Asian minds generating  new trends in the next decade.

This blog is part of our Singapore Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) Series. To access to our previous YSE blog and latest updates on the Youth Co:Lab , click here.
Stay tuned as in our next few blogs, we will continue to showcase the youth social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Singapore, as well as address some of the main challenges and opportunities for the youth willing to take this journey or already on it.

About Youth Co:Lab

Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about the Youth Co: Lab, visit: https://www.youthcolab.org/

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.

Lorem ipsum | Vietnam | cesiscompany.vn

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