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Hong Kong and New York-based alternative protein venture capital fund Lever VC has announced the first close of its Fund I, which is dedicated to investing in early stage plant-based and cell-based protein food tech. Of the US$23 million in committed capital, around 70% came from Hong Kong and Asian family offices, signalling that investors in the region are bullish on the future of the alternative protein industry.
Announced on Monday (August 17), Lever VC Fund I has a portfolio of ten alternative protein food techs based in Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China, the U.S. and Europe. Among them include Singapore’s TurtleTree Labs, the first startup developing cell-based cow’s milk and human breast milk, Hong Kong-based cultivated seafood makers Avant Meat and Beijing’s plant-based yoghurt brand Marvelous Foods.
So far, the fund has US$23 million in capital, with 70% of the backing coming from Hong Kong and Asian family offices, including one major conglomerate based in China, an indicator of the strong investor confidence in the future of the plant-based and cell-based meat and dairy market.
“Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed the rapid rise of the alternative proteins industry globally. Hong Kong and Asia are very much part of this trend. We see more and more innovative companies being founded, and consumer adoption continuing to grow,” explained Julian Ting, vice president at Lever VC, in conversation with Green Queen.
“This has not gone unnoticed by the financial community, with investor interest at an all-time high. We are grateful for the ability to play a part in backing the industry leaders of the future, while providing our investors with exposure to the burgeoning alternative proteins space.”
Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed the rapid rise of the alternative proteins industry globally. Hong Kong and Asia are very much part of this trend. We see more and more innovative companies being founded, and consumer adoption continuing to grow This has not gone unnoticed by the financial community, with investor interest at an all-time high.Julian Ting, Vice President at Lever VC
Lever VC has also been a core player supporting the emerging alternative protein ecosystem, with managing partner Nick Cooney and partner Lawrence Chu both early investors in some of the biggest alternative protein food techs today, including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, JUST and Aleph Farms.
“The alternative protein market is continuing to grow quickly,” said Chu. “With our deep experience and proven record of returns in the sector…Lever VC is perfectly positioned to deliver value to investors looking for financial or strategic exposure to alternative protein and the broader impact investing market.”
While investor interest in alternative proteins have grown significantly globally, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has exposed the vulnerabilities of the animal meat supply chain, there has been a particular uptick in support within Asia.
On top of health and sustainability concerns, food safety has been a top priority for consumers in the region, especially as livestock diseases such as the ongoing African swine fever (ASF) outbreak and the resurgence of Div1 shrimp virus continue to disrupt supply chains.
In light of the heightened awareness of food insecurity in the region, Lever VC and Asia venture accelerator firm Brinc announced a new joint investment fund and accelerator program dedicated to food techs in China back in June.
While the Lever China Alternative Protein Fund will invest 40 million RMB (US$5.65 million) over the next for entrepreneurs and early-stage food techs focused on the mainland Chinese market, Brinc will provide the cohort with support through a three-month accelerator program, which will be stationed at the firm’s new 3,300 square-metre Guangzhou space. An additional 160 million RMB (US$22.6 million) will be available from the Lever VC Fund for follow-on funding.
Lead image courtesy of The Better Meat Co.