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Supporting alternative protein innovations in India [Interview]

Article-Supporting alternative protein innovations in India [Interview]

Venture capital is helping to bring alternative protein innovations to market. Andrew D. Ive, founder of Big Idea Ventures, discusses growing consumer demand for meat-free alternatives, and supporting entrepreneurship in regional markets like India.

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

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

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

explains the Big Idea Ventures’ founder.

Evolving alternative protein space  

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

“One of the companies in our portfolio, Karana, recently launched Asia’s first indulgent whole-plant based meat brand with its first product — ‘pork’ made from young jackfruit,” says Ive.
“Another, Gourmey, is France's first cultured meat company. The firm is reinventing France's most iconic delicacy: foie gras. Its mission is to accelerate the world’s transition toward humane, sustainable and healthy meat by harvesting it from animal cells.”

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

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

Supporting regional entrepreneurship

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

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

“The Good Food Institute (GFI) India, a strong partner of BIV, has already undertaken extensive work to develop local awareness of the new food ecosystem, such as hosting the India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge,” says Ive.
“We are also seeing increasing support from governments in the region who are seeing alternative protein innovation as a solution for food insecurity and a good way to increase domestic production.”

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

"We are focused on any region which has young companies solving global challenges in the alternative protein and breakthrough food innovation,” says Ive.
“Our current offices are based in New York and Singapore, and we intend to add offices in Europe and India. We’re here to help and fund the best and youngest plant-based and cell-based meat, seafood and dairy companies in the world. Reach out, we want to hear from you.”