Asia venture accelerator firm Brinc and European FoodTech venture fund, Blue Horizon Ventures will invest over US$3 million into global foodtech startups through Brinc’s new scaleup program, which aims to help growth-stage companies enter markets throughout Southeast Asia and Greater China, an investment remit that the two parties describe as the “largest cheque size for foodtech accelerator programs” to date.
The new scaleup program will run cross-border between Singapore and Hong Kong, both ideal launch pads for companies to establish operations in Asia. Singapore has of late cemented its position as the foodtech capital of Asia thanks to robust government support and talent thanks to its world-class research universities. On the other hand, Hong Kong offers easy access to capital and proximity to China for startups enabling them to tap into the region’s largest consumer market.
Founded in 2018, Zurich-based Blue Horizon Ventures uses its capital to support startups using innovation to disrupt livestock agriculture with slaughter-free alternatives. The fund has backed some of the biggest names across the alternative protein sector including Mosa Meat, Biomilq, Clara Foods, Cubiq Foods, Alpha Foods, TIPA, and LIVEKINDLY to name a few.
Venture capital and accelerator firm Brinc debuted Asia’s first foodtech program in 2018 and has since supported and invested in more than 30 seed-stage food tech startups through two early-stage programs. While their program was enabled startups to build a strong business foundation and secure R&D partnerships, the big challenge was commercialization, which is where the program fits in.
The Scaleup accelerator program that will include a curriculum and resources specifically geared towards the needs of growth-stage food technology companies. Currently accepting global applications, the cohort will launch in Q3 of this year and will focus on attracting startups in the following sectors: plant-based proteins, cellular agriculture, precision fermentation, nutraceuticals; food as medicine, sustainable packaging and food waste innovations.
In a blog post on Brinc’s site, founder and CEO Manav Gupta said of the news: “The global food system is being re-written by technology. Brinc portfolio companies are creating the future of protein, making meat in the laboratory, creating dairy proteins without a cow, egg proteins without a chicken, and even human milk proteins. We are excited about the partnership with Blue Horizon Ventures. This program can be a real game changer for the Asian Alternative Protein ecosystem.”
The program has three main objectives: 1) guide scaleup’s who are interested to establish a presence beyond their home market and into Asia, including China and Brinc will help them by establishing Singapore and Hong Kong as gateways to commercial opportunities across APAC; 2) support firms that have just graduated from seed-stage accelerator programs in Singapore as well as around the world in fields like commercialisation and corporate engagements; and 3) transform the global food systems by identifying that technology and IP are distributed and that the most impact will be the adoption of the same in emerging markets around the world.
In addition, startups will have the opportunity to connect to food scientists, retailers, manufacturing and distribution partners, not to mention enjoy access to Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures’ network of investors and significant resources.
Brinc portfolio companies are creating the future of protein, making meat in the laboratory, creating dairy proteins without a cow, egg proteins without a chicken, and even human milk proteins. This new program can be a real game changer for the Asian Alternative Protein ecosystemManav Gupta, founder, and CEO of Brinc
Co-founder and managing partner of Blue Horizon Ventures Michael Kliendl added: “We are very happy about the partnership with Brinc and our extension of work and support into Singapore and Asia. We are very much looking forward to the program and hope to fund the next big innovation and back the most promising entrepreneurs.”
Singapore is home to Shiok Meats, TurtleTree Labs, KARANA, Next Gen Foods and many more leading alt protein startups. Government initiatives supporting the sector are plentiful, with the city-state’s National Research Foundation allocating funds to accelerate R&D efforts in cell therapy manufacturing, digital technology and sustainable urban food production. Last year, Singapore launched a US$72 billion plant to prepare for the impact that climate change will have on the environment and aims to have 30% of Singapore’s food produced locally by 2030.
In addition, the Singapore government’s investment arm, Temasek Holdings, is working actively in this field and was an early shareholder in foodtech behemoths such as Impossible Foods and Eat Just.
Hong Kong remains a strategic bridge for companies who want to enter China with both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat making the city their first launch location outside of the United States. Both have since entered the mainland China market, where a record US$6 billion was invested into agrifood companies in 2020 alone.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the world’s biggest agricultural traders has predicted that China’s plant-based protein market will grow from under US$10 billion in 2018 to US$14.5 billion in 2025.
According to a report by BCG and Blue Horizon Corporation, over US$230M was invested in alternative protein startups in the APAC region from November 2019 to November 2020.
In addition to the Scaleup program, Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures will jointly invest a minimum of USD$250,000 into seed-stage companies.
Brinc’s existing portfolio include companies like China’s first biotech company Avant Meats, which is working cultivated seafood and functional marine proteins; Phuture Foods in Singapore, who created a plant-based alternative to minced pork; and China-based cellular agriculture company CellX.
Lead image courtesy of Brinc.