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Singapore’s National University of Singapore has debuted “Introduction to Advanced Meat Alternatives”, a graduate-level alt-protein module. It launches in January 2022 and is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The module lasts 13 weeks and is run by the National University Of Singapore’s (NUS) Food Science and Technology department. Course specifics have been created alongside The Good Food Institute Asia Pacific (GFI APAC).
In 2021, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University delivered an undergraduate alt-protein module. This was similarly created with the GFI APAC. Together, the two modules represent a shift in future food tech qualifications, with alt-proteins proving to be a necessary knowledge area.
Creating the pioneers of the future
Demand for alternative proteins is growing exponentially, especially in Asia Pacific. It has been identified as the fastest-growing region in terms of not just consuming, but creating products.
“The acceleration of alternative proteins in Asia Pacific has arrived, and not a moment too soon, because conventional meat production is ill-equipped to handle the escalating pressures of skyrocketing protein demand, increased climate disruption, and threats of viral outbreaks,” said acting managing director Mirte Gosker in the GFI APAC report. “This clear vote of confidence for smarter ways of making meat signals the beginning of a seismic shift, but to fulfill countries’ net-zero emission pledges and deliver increased food security, we need governments to match the enthusiasm of the investment community by redoubling their support for plant-based and cultivated meat R&D.”
The new module from NUS is intended to channel promising young scientists towards food technology—specifically into precision fermentation and cultivated meat sectors. With both undergraduate and graduate modules available, Singaporean students are encouraged to see themselves as part of a future solution.
Food security is an ongoing priority, with the diversification of food sources being hailed as the key to Singapore’s future. A focus on sustainable and ethical end products is part of the alt-protein module development at NUS.
“The eyes of the world are looking to young scientists to alleviate the looming environmental and food security crises stemming from industrial animal agriculture,” said Gosker. “There is no pathway to achieving global climate goals without changing the way we produce protein, so teaching the science of making meat from plants and cultivating it from cells means empowering students with the skills necessary to save their own future.”
NUS was ranked 22nd out of 200 in the Best Global Universities for Food Science and Technology in findings delivered by U.S. News & World Report.
Singapore leading the way
The APAC region is pressing ahead with alternative protein development. Big players such as TiNDLE have expanded into the U.S. and Middle East. Meanwhile, smaller operations such as Karana have extended their reach across the region.
Now, startups are being celebrated back on home soil, with a particular focus on cultivated and fermented solutions. U.S. startup Eat Just was granted permission to sell its cultivated chicken meat back in December 2020. Domestic success stories are now being created.
Temasek recently announced it is launching a new platform dedicated to supporting domestic alt-protein startups. The move comes after industry experts declared the sector still underfunded, particularly by the public. The platform will be operated alongside public-affiliated agencies with a shared goal of supporting the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC).
Lead image courtesy of the National University of Singapore.