Dao Foods, a cross-border impact investment venture helping bring sustainable protein to China, has just announced the launch of its Dao Foods Venture Fund 1, which will support and invest in 30 alternative protein companies within the next three years. It follows the creation of its new China-focused incubator program, which offers mentorship, funding and workshops to entrepreneurs developing sustainable food solutions.
Investors backing the Dao Foods Venture Fund 1 include New Crop Capital, a New York-based VC dedicated to the alternative protein space and a founding member of Dao Foods, leading Chinese VC firm Matrix Partners China, several family offices, and individual investors including Wayne Silby of the ESG-led investment management pioneer Calvert Investments. The Fund will invest 500,000 RMB (US$73,280) in each company selected by the Dao Foods Incubator with a 30 company remit, making the total deployed over the next three years 15 million RMB (US$2.2 million).
“We are honoured to be a catalyst for the important work that Dao Foods has been undertaking in China through its successful Bootcamp and other on-the-ground initiatives,” said Kim Odhner, managing partner of Unovis Asset Management, which manages New Crop Capital. “The Dao Foods Incubator and accompanying venture fund are a logical extension of our efforts to increase the velocity of quality alternative protein development in China.”
We are honoured to be a catalyst for the important work that Dao Foods has been undertaking in China through its successful Bootcamp and other on-the-ground initiatives.Kim Odhner, Managing Partner of Unovis Asset Management
“We believe that the growth we have witnessed in alternative protein sector in the U.S. over the last few years will soon be repeated in China and are excited to work with New Crop Capital, Matrix Partners and other visionary and impact-oriented investors to accelerate investment in China-focused entrepreneurs who aim to increase the availability of great-tasting plant-based and alternative protein products in China,” added Albert Tseng, co-founder of Dao Foods International.
Though Dao Foods anticipates that most of the Incubator companies will be China-based entrepreneurs, Tseng told Green Queen that it will also be open to a choice selection of international ventures that have a focus on the Chinese market. Plant-based and cell-based food techs accepted will undergo a 6-month bootcamp that gives them access to mentorship, industry expertise, customised courses and workshops on top of financial support.
“We will be investing in and providing more intensive and structured mentoring to China’s next-gen food entrepreneurs who wish to seize this fast-growing market opportunity,” explains Tseng.
We believe that the growth we have witnessed in alternative protein sector in the U.S. over the last few years will soon be repeated in China.Albert Tseng, Co-Founder of Dao Foods International
One of the key startups that Dao Foods has backed is Starfield, a Shenzhen-based food tech that has developed plant-based meat alternatives using seaweed protein. Following early-stage investment from both Dao Foods and New Crop Capital, Starfield has since secured an impressive US$10 million Series A round and forged partnerships with more than 20 foodservice chains nationwide, after its initial trial launches with a number of major restaurants earlier this year.
The launch of the Dao Foods Venture Fund 1 comes as consumer awareness about health, food safety and the environmental impact of the animal meat industry has risen to an all time high in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Since the gradual reopening of the Chinese economy, the food industry has been quick to roll out more plant-based options to meet the demand, most notably with Starbucks’ nationwide vegetarian menu in partnership with Beyond Meat, Omnipork and Oatly.
Lead image courtesy of Starfield.