Helping plant-based protein start-ups expand in Asia-Pacific

Published: 13-Sep-2022

The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge, which closes for applications on 1 October 2022, gives businesses the opportunity to bring their projects to market faster

Following two successful programmes in North America and in Europe, Bühler, Cargill, and Givaudan bring their combined innovation power to bear and help plant-based protein start-ups to scale up and commercialise in Asia-Pacific with the Scale It Up! Challenge. Registration for this unique program is now open. The top 15 start-ups selected in the first round will pitch their proposals to the partner companies, and then five start-ups will gain access to the partner companies’ testing and scale-up piloting facilities at the Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore, in an all-expenses paid trip. The deadline for applications is 1 October 2022.

Bühler, Cargill and Givaudan have joined forces to help accelerate start-ups who are innovating in plant-based protein, to address the needs of a growing global population. By the year 2050, the world’s population will reach 9.8 billion people. Asia is well-positioned to drive global food demand, including proteins, as the home to 60% of the global population and a rising middle class. Alternative protein sources will need to complement traditional protein sources to feed the needs of the population.

During the programme, start-up companies who register and submit their project will gain visibility to the larger, plant-based protein ecosystem and be able to network and collaborate with others on a similar journey. One winner and one runner-up will be chosen and provided ongoing support that will help them scale their product for market introduction.

The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge will provide resources, mentorship, and expertise to start-ups with innovative solutions for plant-based meat or seafood alternatives. The three sponsoring companies are all active in the production of sustainable, plant-based protein ingredients, each focusing on different parts of the value chain and each bringing their unique expertise to the challenge. The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge will provide resources, mentorship, and expertise to the challenge winners.

“The rising protein gap is a challenge too big to solve alone,” says Dr Aparna Venkatesh, Regional Innovation Lead of Bühler. “The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge is designed to accelerate start-ups who are also working to close that gap. It allows regional start-ups to access our expertise, ecosystem, capabilities, and facilities to develop delicious plant-based meat products. The value we see here is lowering the entry barrier and innovating with them to help them on their journey to commercialisation and bringing their product to market more quickly. We’re excited to kick-off the Asia-Pacific version of this unique challenge with our likeminded partners and look forward to seeing what it will bring.”

"Innovations in food technology are changing how we think about food and how it is produced. Through Scale It Up!, we’re challenging start-ups to come up with new, disruptive ideas in the plant-based protein space, to adopt a longer and broader view toward providing diverse proteins to the world. With our deep knowledge of plant protein ingredients, our expertise in R&D, product development and production, and in partnership with other players in the industry, we hope to help innovators test their ideas and scale it to the market," said Kok Wei Beh, Regional Technical Leader, Cargill.

“The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge provides a unique co-creation opportunity to develop and scale plant-based food experiences. We aim to accelerate and support the journey for start-ups – providing them access to the expertise, networks, and technology required to create authentic plant-based products that consumers will love. At our Protein Innovation Centre, start-ups will be able to benefit from an end-to-end approach, as we guide them through every step of their product development and research journey. We invite all start-ups in the region to join us in making plant-based foods more delicious and accessible to all!” shared Michele van der Walt, Regional Head of Innovation, Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing APAC.

Asia-Pacific is experiencing a boom in alternative proteins innovation. In Asia-Pacific, alternative protein investments grew from $162M in 2020 to $312M in 2021 (a huge 92% surge). Consumer food spending in general is slated to jump over the next decade in Asia-Pacific. A study by PwC, Rabobank and Temasek predicts that consumer-driven growth in food spending in Asia-Pacific will hit $1.1 trillion in 2030 – an 83% jump compared to 2019, a growth rate that would outpace China's.

The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge is taking idea submissions until 1 October 2022. Companies wishing to enter the challenge can register here. On 12 October, the top 15 projects will be selected by a panel of experts from the three partner companies. These companies will have a week to prepare their pitches, and on 19 Oct, the top 5 will be selected to advance. From 1 December to 25 January, the top 5 will visit the facilities of the partner companies. In February 2023, the final pitches will be made, and a winner and runner-up chosen. The two selected companies will receive support to help develop and scale their product for market introduction.

Check out previous winners NowADays and MOAFoodtech.

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