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Temasek, the Singapore government-backed investment firm, has just established a new platform dedicated to scaling and commercialising sustainable foods and alternative proteins. Providing R&D advisory, pilot facilities and opening up manufacturing and investment support to food techs, the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform aims to tackle “friction-to-adoption” in the region.
Temasek has launched the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform, a new program dedicated to supporting Asian food techs. It will take a three-pronged approach to combat the “friction-to-adoption” of sustainable alternative proteins in Asia, from enabling product development to providing manufacturing capabilities and investing in companies.
Asia Sustainable Foods Platform
Temasek describes the platform as “an enabler, operator and investor, to food-tech companies as they go through their life cycle from product development to commercial scale-up.”
It will provide R&D expertise and aid in pilot-scale launches as businesses create their products, then arm food techs with the production facilities and market insights necessary to scale up for launch. Companies will also get the chance to tap into Temasek’s vast connections in the investment world and gain access to capital to further expand.
The platform will be run by food tech professionals and led by Mathys Boeren, an industry veteran with experience at conglomerates such as Unilever, Givaudan, Symrise and Kerry.
Boeren says the “key differentiating factor” of the new platform is its three-pronged approach, which will “provide bespoke solutions and support to aspiring food-tech companies at every stage of their growth cycle.”
“With our support to remove friction-to-adoption, companies can speed up their product development and pilot launch, as well as accelerate their commercial scale-up and go-to-market. In the end, it is our goal to delight consumers across Asia with tasty, fresh, traceable and sustainable food,” he added.
Alternative proteins are still underfunded
The launch of the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform comes shortly after experts called on more public support for the alternative proteins industry as a solution to combat climate change. Much of the funding to date for alternative proteins have come from the private sector, with public financing making up just 1% of the $3.1 billion raised last year.
Alternative proteins have also been largely ignored during the COP26 climate talks, which have focused primarily on emissions from the fossil fuel industry, despite the enormous environmental impact of animal agriculture. Livestock farming is responsible for nearly a fifth of the world’s GHG emissions.
“Asia is expected to require around US$1.55 trillion of investment over the next decade to satisfy growing consumer demands for healthier and more sustainable food options,” said Yeoh Keat Chuan, deputy head of Temasek’s Enterprise Development Group. A similar estimate of the funding gap was made in a recent Temasek, Rabobank and PwC report.
Singapore: Asia’s leading food tech hub
Boeren says the new platform is yet again another milestone solidifying Singapore’s role as a food tech and food security leader in the Asia region. “Singapore has a significant role to play in the transformation of the agri-food sector.”
The government has a local food production goal of 30% by 2030 as part of its climate adaptation strategy, and allocated additional funding for sustainable protein projects and food techs in the wake of the pandemic. Last year, the country famously became the world’s first to approve the commercial sale of cultured meat, and has since established a FRESH platform to expedite regulations and called on foreign startups to apply early to get the go-ahead to commercialise their novel products.
Temasek’s new platform will be working with a number of public-affiliated agencies, including A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food & Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI). Together, they will support the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC), providing S$30 million in investment over the next three years for startups.
The FTIC will be open to food techs to leverage its food grade pilot facility, extrusion and fermentation kitchen and test kitchens. One of the first startups to set up a base there is Next Gen, the company behind the vegan chicken brand TiNDLE, which has now made its way around the world from Singapore to Hong Kong, UAE, the US, and most recently the Netherlands.
Other key partners on board with Temasek’s new platform include German plant protein firm CREMER, and global nutrition giant ADM, the latter being a project supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB).
Lead image courtesy of Next Gen.