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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 / / Accredify / MIRxes / Float Foods /

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.

Image Credit: Founder Institute

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

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

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

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

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

More Grants Available For S’pore Businesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Year Of New Beginnings

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

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

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

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

Carbon Negative Vodka – Air Co.

Avoca-Dough – M&S

AI Controlled Insect Farm – Better Origin x1

Algae at Home with the BioBombola – EcoLogicStudio

Scottish Blackthorn Sea Salt – Blackthorn Sea Salt

Liquid Egg – Cracked

100% Plastic Free Spirits Bottle – Diageo

Spectacular Science – Dr Oetker

24/7 Farm Shop Vending Machines

Climate Positive Burgers – Ground

Ice Cream Cakes – Ruby Ices

Kefir Salad Dressing – Trader Joe’s

Green Tea as a Natural Preservative – Loveblock Wines

Bee-Free Honey – MeliBio Inc

Pumpkin Bagels – The Bagel Nook

Protein and Fibre Enriched Vegetable Rice – RightRice

Climate Friendly Protein – Solar Foods

Cold Brew Black Tea – Trader Joe’s

Vegetable Charcuterie – The Ethicurean

On The Pass – Philip Warren Butchers

To find out about ‘shifting the future of food & drink’ and to join the TFP community visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Burger King / V2food / Green Queen Media

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

Alt Protein Trends 2021 Article Banner

2. OmniPork Luncheon is now available across the country

Source: OmniFoods / Green Queen Media

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

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

Source: Beyond Meat

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

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

Source: WTH Foods

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

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

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

Source: Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures

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

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

Source: The Good Choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Chicken And Egg Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Proof Is In The Omelette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan eggs
Shraddha Bhansali and Kartik Dixit

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth is

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

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

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

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

The rapid growth across Asia in the alternative protein space over the last couple of years is reflected in the amount of fundraising and the development of innovative new products – from plant-based mooncakes, dumplings to those tailored to Chinese cuisine – cell based shrimp dimsum to plant-based crayfish.

Existing US food technology players such as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat are already pursuing Asian market , but can they compete with the many homegrown alternative protein  companies that are innovating rapidly ?

Asian consumer appetites differs greatly to their Western counterparts. Hence for startups in the Asian alternative protein space- new product development must be mindful to cater to regional tastes.

Apart from the challenge to get these new products mainstream whether it is plant-based or cell based meat, price is another important factor.

Singapore market with its diverse population has been a springboard to help  many of these new innovations expand across Southeast Asia. The country is taking the lead to support new protein startups ,developing regulatory frameworks, particularly on the cellular meat front.

Cultivated / Cell based or Plant Based meat – are Asians going to bite ?

Attend this purposely constructed webinar on ASIA Sustainable Proteins that lines up 6 powerful speeches to give you an insight on where Alternative protein is heading in the region

Lux Research addresses the need to close the  sensorial gap between animal meat products and alternative protein products.

Keller & Heckman gives an update on the regulatory framework for alternative protein acceptance in Asia.

And an interactive, exciting panel discussion of plant-based and cell based meat innovators – Hear them battle out on the commercial and technical considerations.

2020 has been a big year for cellular agriculture.

From record investments to companies advancing the future of food, the cellular agriculture field continued to move forward to transform our food system. In spite of the devastating impact of the pandemic, companies continued to achieve milestone after milestone.

We’re bringing everyone together at the Cellular Agriculture: End of the Year Summit 2020 to celebrate the field’s progress and predict what to expect moving forward in 2021.

From companies and investors to key stakeholders, join us for a 1-day event on December 14th to hear from and network with global leaders and industry experts from the cellular agriculture field.

We’re excited to use the online event platforms HeySummit and Gather to find an engaging way to interact with the entire cellular agriculture ecosystem virtually.

Get your ticket today and be a part of the future with cellular agriculture. To enhance the networking experience, we are limiting the summit to 125 tickets.

We will announce the detailed schedule soon and will add speakers as we get closer to the date.

Bringing the Cellular Agriculture Industry together

From cell-based meat and dairy to biomaterials, learn from experts and leaders across sectors in the cellular agriculture industry.

Whether you’re looking to discover the invesment landscape or understand the scaling challanges to commercialize – we’ve got you covered with a wide range of presentations, panel discussions, and networking sessions.

FoodBytes! Pitch 2020, a virtual competition by food and agriculture bank Rabobank, took place at the beginning of December. Over 340 startups applied to present their solutions for a more sustainable food system, and among the 15 selected finalists were plant-based companies Evo Foods and Pleese Foods.

Evo Foods is India’s first liquid egg replacement company. It has had a successful year, raising capital from investors such as VegInvest, Wild Earth’s Ryan Bethencourt, and the CEO of Shiok Meats. Its founders say their aim is to disrupt the Indian market.

New York-based Pleese Foods produces meltable plant-based cheese for pizzas. The company has already been supported by Harlem incubator Hot Bread Kitchen and Big Idea Ventures’s New Protein Accelerator.

The cheese is unique because it is free from all common allergens such as soy and nuts — instead, it’s made with potatoes and beans. It’s designed to melt as quickly as dairy cheese, whereas many vegan cheeses have a higher melting point.

Founded by Kobi Abev ( pleesecheese tm) • Instagram photos and videos
©Pleese Cheese

Other plant-based companies in the top 15 included Planeteer, which makes edible vegan cutlery, Alchemy Foodtech, producers of a plant-based blend to slow the digestion of carbohydrates, and Envara Health, makers of an ingredient that increases nutrient absorption.

Almost half of the 15 companies are led or co-led by people of colour, while 60 percent are led or co-led by women.

The final

Unfortunately, neither Evo Foods nor Pleese Foods made the top three in the final, but they will become a permanent part of the FoodBytes! network with ongoing support and connections from Rabobank. Plant-based company Envara Health had more success, taking the top spot in the Food Tech category.

Agricycle Global won the Consumer Food & Beverage category for its technologies to reduce post-harvest food loss and provide employment to rural farmers. The Agtech Award went to SWAN Systems for its highly efficient irrigation and fertiliser platform. A replay of the pitching competition is available to watch here.

“In five short years, FoodBytes! has become one of the most valuable networks for startups who are pioneering sustainable ways to feed the planet,” said Anne Greven, Head of F&A Innovation at Rabobank. “We’re connecting emerging and established leaders who want to solve real problems like climate change, plastic waste, and food insecurity.”

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