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A hype or THE future? In this event, we deep dive into the alternative protein landscape, as experts share their viewpoints on the trends and tech in this area. In this exciting event, we explore various facets of cultured meat, from serum-free media, to next-generation scaffolds, to seafood cell lines, to tissue engineering & meatcuts technology.



  1. Prof. Can Akcali, Chief science officer, Biftek.Co
  2. Vinayaka Srinivas, Co-Founder, GaiaFoods
  3. Mihir Pershad, Co-Founder & CEO, Umami Meats
  4. Shujian Ong, Co-founder & Director of Research and Development, Ants Innovate

Host & Moderator:

  • Jie Ai Lim, Ecosystem Development, NUS Enterprise
  • Matthew Zhao, Food Scientist at Big Idea Ventures

About the Distinguished Speakers:

Prof. Can Akcali is the chief science officer of Biftek INC that develops growth medium to make cultured meat affordable. He has a MD degree from Ankara University and PhD degree from University of Cincinnati, Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology. He worked as a professor in Bilkent University Molecular Biology and Genetics Department. Currently he is vice president in Stem Cell Institute in Ankara University. Prof. Akcali is the recipient of Novartis Science Award, Vehbi Koç Health Award, Gordon Research Conference Award. He is the author of many scientific papers and book chapters. He has been an advisor of numerous graduate students.

Vinayaka Srinivas (Vin) is the CEO & Co-Founder Gaia foods Vin’s mission is to help transition the world from producing and consuming butchered meat to a more sustainable, Clean and environmentally friendly cultured meat. Vin is a scientist by training and has over 10+ years of experience in stem and muscle cell research. He obtained his PhD in National University of Singapore and then went onto work in DUKE-NUS medical school to work on independent projects pertaining to muscle stem cell Biology.

Mihir Pershad is the Co-Founder & CEO of Umami Meats. A serial entrepreneur, Mihir Pershad has founded or scaled technology startups in the medical device, biotechnology, aquaculture, and education sectors. Pershad is currently the CEO of Umami Meats, a cultivated seafood startup, as well as Venture Partner at Early Charm Ventures, which partners with university professors to commercialize their innovations. Pershad has a passion for building businesses that create transformative global change. Pershad’s debut book Cultivated Abundance shows driven entrepreneurs how to maximize their impact on our world’s biggest problems.

Shujian Ong is the Co-founder & Director of Research and Development, Ants Innovate. He Shujian studied Life Sciences at the National University of Singapore and was an A*STAR scholar. He led a research team for 3 years and is now Co-founder and Director of Research and Development at Ants Innovate. He leads the development of key cultivated meat technologies to push the alternative meat industry towards the next generation of whole meat cuts.

Dr Matthew Zhao is the Food Scientist at Big Idea Ventures, a venture capital firm which invests in future food technologies in the alternative protein ecosystem. His technical expertise includes specialisation in post-harvest technology, food packaging and processing, and shelf-life evaluation. Under his guidance, several companies were successful in adopting innovative novel technology, solutions and processes to commercialise their product with better nutritional value, a stable shelf-life among other value-added functional properties. He holds a PhD in Food Technology from Massey University, New Zealand.


About NUS Enterprise: NUS Enterprise plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships for technology and commercialisation, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. As Asia’s Thought Leader for Innovation & Enterprise, it augments and complements the University’s academic programmes and acts as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores.

About Big Idea Ventures: Big Idea Ventures is solving the world’s greatest challenges by supporting the best entrepreneurs. We’re a venture capital fund and startup accelerator investing in and accelerating top performers in the new food space. Our first fund, The New Protein Fund (size $50M), is investing in the most innovative companies working on plant-based foods/ingredients, food technology, and alternative proteins. We combine capital, partnerships, and mentorship to support and grow the world’s most compelling plant-based food and alternative protein companies.

  • Covid-19 has put the spotlight on food security concerns, increasing interest in the alternative protein industry
  • On Wednesday (Dec 2), Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat
  • Alternative protein-focused venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures said its fund has more than doubled in size since Covid-19
  • Despite challenges, investor interest has increased as well, said alternative protein startups

SINGAPORE — Since Covid-19, the size of venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures’ New Protein Fund has more than doubled to approximately US$40 million (S$53 million), said the company’s founder and managing general partner Andrew Ive.

The Temasek Holdings-backed firm launched its fund in March 2019 with a goal of closing US$50 million by March next year.

It invests in alternative protein companies that focus on cell- and plant-based foods and related technologies. In Singapore, it has invested in Gaia Foods, Karana, LVL Life, Confetti Fine Foods and Shiok Meats.

The alternative protein sector was already on an upward trend before Covid-19, said Mr Ive. “But we’ve seen a lot more investor interest since the pandemic,” he said. “A lot more people are getting involved in this space. They see why it’s important.

“It’s probably the most transformative change in the food industry in a hundred years.”

With the disruption of commodity supply chains, more spotlight has been placed on food security.“This has raised the growth potential for the alternative protein sector, as countries become more receptive to the development of novel foods to complement traditional food sources,” said Mr Johnny Teo, executive director for food, healthcare and biomedical at Enterprise Singapore.

On Wednesday (Dec 2), Singapore became the first country in the world to allow the sale of cultured meat — also sometimes referred to as cell-based or lab-grown meat.

Cultured meat is grown in a lab by isolating animal cells from a source and replicating them in a cell culture, making it a novel food that does not have a history of being consumed by humans.

Other than cell-based meat companies, plant-based food companies are also deepening their footprints in Singapore. Products from plant-based food companies Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat can be found in selected restaurants, and the former made its products available in supermarkets in October.


Homegrown alternative protein companies attested to the positive effects of Covid-19 on interest in the industry.

“It helps validate the necessity of our technologies,” said Mr Eugene Wang, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sophie’s Bionutrients, which uses microalgae to make plant-based protein. “Food security and supply chain disruptions were the key issues we were trying to address from the very beginning of the development of these technologies.”

Dr Vinayaka Srinivas, founder of cell-based red meat startup Gaia Foods, said that while some investors are conserving cash due to the uncertainty of Covid-19, many have realised that the industry is important.

“We are in a very sweet, lucky spot,” he said. “We are actually not aggressively going for investors, because we are still making sure we have everything ready from our side, but we are getting a lot of calls from investors.”

For jackfruit-based meat substitute startup Karana, the pandemic and news of its S$2.3 million funding round in July led to more investor interest as well.

Karana co-founder Dan Riegler said: “I think it would be much easier to talk about the number of people who are not actively interested in this space at this point.”

In June, cell-based seafood startup Shiok Meats bagged a S$4 million investment, and subsequently raised S$17.3 million in September.


Shiok Meats’ investments were secured despite the difficulties of fundraising amid a pandemic. “It was hard as we could not meet many investors in person or they couldn’t visit our space,” said Dr Sandhya Sriram, co-founder and chief executive officer of Shiok Meats.

The pandemic also dealt other challenges to alternative protein companies.

Both Shiok Meats and Gaia Foods had to slow down research and development due to workplace restrictions, which prevented them from making full use of their labs.

The team from Karana could not travel to Sri Lanka, where it sources its jackfruit, and food manufacturers took more safety precautions, which led to delays of “at least a few months”.

“We’ve just been focused on managing everything that is in our control, and pushing things that we can as much as possible, but accepting that it’s a pretty unprecedented time,” said Mr Riegler. “We’ve just had to adapt as the situation warranted.”

Another challenge for the alternative protein industry is pricing, as most such companies are still small scale startups.

“It’s going to be hard to compete with a lot of existing products, especially the meat industry, on price,” said Mr Riegler, referring to plant-based products like Karana’s.

Dr Srinivas also said that it will take “some more years” for cell-based meat prices to go down.

Other obstacles to commercialisation include lack of widespread understanding about cell-based meat, he said. “That’s why we are also helping the Government to frame the regulatory framework so that they can understand and educate (the public),” he added.

Going forward, some local alternative protein companies are approaching the early stages of commercialisation in spite of challenges caused by Covid-19.

Karana, for instance, intends to launch its product with selected restaurants in January. Shiok Meats plans to use its latest investment to build a commercial pilot plant and launch its minced shrimp product in 2022.

Protein Directory proudly presents the Alternative Dairy Conference 2020 with a focus on the new wave of future food companies transforming the dairy business of tomorrow.

Join us for this 1-day virtual global conference to learn about the latest business trends and best practices to transform the future of food with alternatives for dairy applications like cheese, milk and yogurt.

With keynotes and interactive panel discussions by global leaders and industry experts in the future of alternative dairy, this virtual conference brings together key players working on the new wave of food. From innovative ingredients to promising end producers and supporting organizations in the area of innovation, consumer insights, business strategy and intellectual property.

Learn about the key business opportunities in alternative proteins and network with business and scientific leaders.
Connect with the Protein.Directory community by visiting their virtual exhibitor booths during the networking breaks.

We look forward welcoming you at the Alt Dairy Conference!

What to expect:

  • 5 hours of inspiring experts talks, panels and interactive QA
  • 1  hour of networking with other participants, experts and speakers
  • Interact with 100+ participants to build relationships with potential suppliers, customers, collaboration partners and investors
  • Visit game-changing company booths in the Alt. Dairy space

For who?

  • Companies and individuals new to the field wanting to move into the Alt. dairy business. They are looking for inspiration and wanting to build a solid network of industry professionals
  • Early stage companies in Alt protein that are wanting to learn more, looking for collaboration partners, and wanting to spread their message
  • Late stage startups and mature corporations that are looking for collaboration partners and wanting to strengthen their relationships

Browse to the schedule, sessions, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors via the different tabs (scroll down).
Dec 2nd: 15.30-21.30 CET/ 9.30-15.30 EST/ 6.30-12.30 PT


  • New wave of consumer end products disrupting dairy industry: Cheese / Milk/ Quark alternatives
  • Food tech, future wave of functional ingredients to increase texture, creaminess and sensory attributes
  • EU Regulatory landscape: labeling, advertising, naming
  • How to protect Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Consumer trends in nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Inspiring keynote on how to be disruptive in alt dairy business
  • Lightning talks from service providers to support food industry
    • accelerating innovation and business
    • how to scale up and commercialize innovation
  • Business opportunities
    • investing in Alt dairy
    • market analysis of alt dairy product categories
    • Startup pitch session

#altdairyconference #alternativeprotein #plantbased #fermentation #foodindustry #innovation
#regulatory #business #strategy #foodtech #investment

Recordings of our previous Alt. Protein Conference can be viewed here.
The Alt Dairy Conference will be recorded as well. Videos will be shared with registered participants.

02 Dec 2020 — Cultured chicken meat from Eat Just has been green-lighted for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. The island nation is the first to give the go-ahead to meat being grown in a lab. It follows a rigorous consultation and review process by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

This approval is anticipated to be the “first of many” for similar lab-grown meat businesses in Singapore and in countries around the globe. However, US and European approval of cultured meat could be some way off.

SFA’s approval further paves the way for a forthcoming small-scale commercial launch in Singapore of Eat Just’s new GOOD Meat brand. Details on this rollout will be disclosed at a later date.

At present, the company has developed other lab-grown chicken formats that will be an extension to this product line.

FoodIngredientsFirst reached out to Eat Just for further insights into the company’s road to commercialization.

Eating clean from a petri dish
Over the course of many months, Eat Just’s team of scientists, product developers and regulatory experts prepared extensive documentation on the characterization of its cultured chicken and the production process, the company notes.

The company included details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during manufacturing, as well as a detailed description of its production process. This demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and Singapore’s rigorous food safety monitoring system.

The analysis demonstrated that cultured chicken contains a high protein content, diversified amino acid composition, healthy monounsaturated fats and a rich source of minerals.

Eat Just has demonstrated a consistent manufacturing process of its cultured chicken by running over 20 production runs in 1,200 L bioreactors. No antibiotics are used in this proprietary process.

Safety and quality validations demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met the standards of poultry meat, with “extremely low and significantly cleaner” microbiological content than conventional chicken.

The analysis also demonstrated that cultured chicken contains a high protein content, diversified amino acid composition, high relative content in healthy monounsaturated fats and a rich source of minerals.

In addition, Eat Just’s cultured chicken was confirmed to be safe and nutritious for human consumption by an outside panel of international scientific authorities in Singapore and the US, with expertise in medicine, toxicology, allergenicity, cell biology and food safety.

Concurrent to the consultation and review period, Eat Just formed strategic partnerships with local manufacturers in Singapore to produce cultured chicken cells and formulate the finished product ahead of its first sale to a restaurant and initial availability to consumers.

A hub for cellular agriculture
Today’s announcement is Eat Just’s second in Singapore this year. In October, the company announced a partnership with a consortium led by Proterra Investment Partners Asia, an investment management firm focused on the food and agribusiness sectors.

Through this partnership, the company will build and operate a plant protein production facility in Singapore to meet demand for Eat Just’s plant-based JUST Egg products across Asia.

“Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system,” says Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.

The “garden city” has been leading the charge in Asia’s alternative protein development. This year, Singaporean cellular agriculture player Shiok Meats announced its US$12.6 million Series A funding round for the scaling up of cell-based shrimp meat.

In other developments, Singapore-based venture capital firm and business accelerator Big Idea Ventures attracted more investors to its alternative protein fund, including Bühler, Tyson and Temasek.

Just yesterday, we reported how a new project aims to remove the need for animal-derived products completely and instead upcycle existing agro-industrial by-products to be used as a growth media for culturing meat cells in a lab environment.

UK-based CPI technology innovation center is partnering with 3D Bio-Tissues (3DBT) – a spin-out of Newcastle University – to develop a new kind of improved growth media, one that is “truly animal-free.”

Growing meat to save the planet
Meat production has risen dramatically, and by 2050, consumption is projected to increase over 70 percent, flags Eat Just. The company stresses that major public health crises in the past have been linked to patterns of conventional meat consumption.

Within this context, cultured meat’s role in creating a safer, more secure global food supply has been increasingly highlighted. The last year has seen a steady rise in the application of animal cell culture technology toward the development of food products.

Yet many current methods of producing cultured meat are still expensive – producing low yields and involving the use of animal-derived fetal bovine serum.

Among developments in this dynamic space, Israeli start-up is heading toward transferring its thin-cut, lab-grown beef steaks into a proprietary platform suitable for mass cultivation. In a recent interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Didier Toubia, Aleph Farm’s co-founder and CEO, detailed the company’s latest ambitions to supply cultivated meat for deep-space explorations.

Meanwhile, recent analysis has indicated substantial potential markets for cultured meat and the general movement toward reduced-meat diets across the globe, particularly in Germany and France. The wider European market is expected to demonstrate similar trends into the coming years.

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