‘India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge’ To Foster Next-Gen Plant-Based Innovation

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The Good Food Institute (GFI) India, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to supporting the sustainable alternative protein ecosystem, has just created a new project to promote innovation in plant-based and cultivated foods. Called the “India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge”, the programme is open to all students, researchers and entrepreneurs, and will give participants a chance to receive support, investment or promotion from industry leaders. 

Launched on World Environment Day (June 5), GFI India’s new India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge seeks to encourage next-generation alternative protein innovators. The programme is open to all individuals aged 28 or under for free, and targets students, researchers and entrepreneurs who have a background in sciences, technology and engineering. Participants can begin applying for the challenge on June 15. 

The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge will see GFI India work alongside Indian farm-to-fork accelerator Gastrotope, Indian government programme AGNIi, IMM Ahmedabad’s startup incubator The Innovation Continuum, Colorado-based Thought for Food, and the ProVeg Incubator

Singapore and New York-based new protein venture capital fund Big Idea Ventures,  Japanese investment firm Mistletoe and Indian agritech investor Omnivore will also be supporting the challenge. 

GFI India is an organisation that works with investors, scientists and entrepreneurs to make alternative proteins – plant-based and cultivated alternatives to animal-based food products – a reality. 

At the core of our current broken food system is resource-intensive animal agriculture, which poses a multitude of challenges for our planet to sustainably feed 10 billion by 2050. Livestock farming generates 18% of global greenhouse gases, driving climate change and exacerbating food insecurity, while at the same time increasing public health risks due to deforestation and antimicrobial resistance – including zoonotic diseases such as coronavirus. 

“The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for passionate, talented students, researchers, entrepreneurs and young professionals all over the country to lay the groundwork for a more healthy, sustainable, and just global food system,” said Varun Deshpande, managing director of GFI India. 

“And, if the participants play their cards right as part of this, they might even receive investment and promotion from our wonderful partners.” 

Up to 5 finalists across plant-based meat, egg and dairy alternative projects will be selected from the challenge. They will receive Rs 1 lakh (US$12,900) each, and will be invited to pitch their innovative ideas to investors and advisors on a Demo Day for a chance to secure seed funding, turning their ideas into a startup.

Before reaching the finals, participants will go through four stages in the challenge, the first being an “induction”, where applicants are expected to take a quiz based on the reading materials provided on the website. Based on performance, participants can enter the second phase of “ideation” where they must find collaborators and file proposals for their food innovation project. 

Thirdly, a team of experts from GFI India and their partners will provide feedback, giving the cohort of budding alternative protein entrepreneurs a chance to improve their proposals. This will then propel the group to the final evaluation of Demo Day. 

Lead image courtesy of LikeMeat / Unsplash. 


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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