Alternative protein investor Big Idea Ventures reveals latest accelerator cohort

May 2, 2022 - 7 min read

Big Idea Ventures, global leader in early-stage investments in the alternative protein sector, revealed its latest accelerator cohort today.

Fifteen early-stage startups were selected for pre-seed investment as part of Big Idea Ventures’ bi-annual new protein accelerator program. Investments were made through the firm’s three offices in New York, Paris and Singapore. Big Idea Ventures’ accelerator is part of its New Protein Fund ($50M+ AUM), dedicated to early-stage investments in alternative protein products, ingredients and technologies.

“With 15 companies from 13 different countries this cohort is our most diverse to date. It is a testament to the growth of the alternative protein food industry globally. Every company in this cohort, regardless of whether they use cell-based, precision fermentation or plant-based approaches, addresses a specific market gap backed by strong technology, a great team and the Big Idea Ventures corporate and mentor ecosystem,” said Andrew D. Ive, Founder and Managing General Partner of Big Idea Ventures.

The fifteen companies in Big Idea Ventures’ latest global accelerator cover a wide range of technologies leveraging precision fermentation, cell-based technologies, and building bioplatforms to unlock the potential behind unique ingredients.

New York Accelerator -- Cohort 5

  • The Leaf Protein Co. (Australia) — uses novel science and technology to unlock the planet’s most abundant source of protein, Rubisco, from leafy greens. Their aim is to build a library of functional, protein-rich ingredients from sustainable sources in a market which currently lacks biodiverse and allergen-free plant protein ingredients. Their first protein, a foaming and gelling aid, is produced from leafy crop by-products.
  • Optimized Foods (US) — harnesses the form, function, and structure of mycelium to grow better, healthier foods. Using their technology platform, they are creating compelling products starting with shelf-stable boba tea and cell-cultured caviar.
  • CF Foods Group (US) — develops CPG products that are cruelty and conflict-free, utilizing cultivated proteins as core ingredients. The first range of products is premium dog treats, a blend of cultured meat and plant-based ingredients that are better for people, the planet, and our pups. CF Foods aims to be among the first to market cultivated CPG products in both the US and Asia.
  • Alt Atlas (UK) — created a machine learning bioplatform that sources functional ingredients and solutions for the alternative meat and dairy industry. Their first product is a proprietary non-GMO bovine stem cell line and a customized, community-backed service to support cultivated meat companies scale-up their production by 10X. Their vision is to be the alternative meat and dairy lighthouse and enable the industry to realistically achieve industrial production by 2030.
  • The Mushroom Meat Co (US) — uses their patent-pending technology to make healthy, yet craveable animal-free meats from culinary-medicinal mushrooms and upcycled plant proteins. With their flexible ingredient platform, the company is addressing the need for whole-food and allergen-free meat analogs in the alternative protein market.

Singapore Accelerator -- Cohort 5

“We are proud to announce our first investments in Indonesia, Thailand and Japan,” said Dr Dalal AlGhawas, BIV’s Program Director in Singapore. “This is a testament to the growth of the alternative protein category in some of the biggest consumer markets in Asia especially for South East Asia. For these markets product localisation is key and we are excited to see the emphasis for clean labels and food waste valorisation too.”

  • Kabocha Milk Co. (New Zealand) — unlocks the incredible health properties of Kabocha (pumpkin/squash) in ready-to-eat formats. Their first product, the award-winning Kabochamilk, is 100% vegan and free of preservatives, artificial colours & flavor, and provides 50% of your daily Vitamin A in a single serve. Co-funded by the NZ government, the team is also developing an alternative protein meat pattie from the 15,000 tonnes of imperfect grown Kabocha per year that goes to stock food; and from the waste stream of the creation of Kabocha Milk.
  • Meatless Kingdom (Indonesia) — develops Indonesian-inspired foods and snacks from locally-sourced plant-based ingredients that are both tasty and nutritious. They use technology that can combine and maximize the beneficial properties of mushroom and soy in order to create affordable plant-based meat products which have meaty texture and taste. Their products are also high in protein, low in gluten, non-MSG and are Halal and BPOM certified.
  • More Foods (Thailand) — specializes in creating functional plant-based proteins with bioactive ingredients and innovative protein modification technology. Their products are made with a variety of plants and fungi which gives consumers an alternative to soy, and their method of formulation allows for products that are low in sodium, lightly processed, tasty and functional. All of this is achieved using environmentally friendly ingredients and a zero-waste production process.
  • Pullulo (Singapore) — develops microbial protein for various food applications. Their innovative protein is highly nutritious yet affordable, allergen-free, non-GMO, vegan, and Halal and is less susceptible to supply chain disruptions. Many of their products also integrate agricultural bioproducts, upcycling our waste in the process. Pullulo is targeting both the alternative protein mass market and the underserved healthcare catering and food services.
  • UMAMI UNITED (Japan) — specializes in Japanese-inspired plant-based food using unique and innovative Japanese ingredients. Their first product - the UMAMI EGG - is made with konjac powder and has umami flavour added to it thanks to an innovative enzyme process. UMAMI strives for clean labels in their products and has made them buddhist-friendly to ensure deeper penetration of the greater China market.

Paris Accelerator -- Cohort 2

“We were impressed by the quality of companies coming through our applications this year and are delighted to see alternative protein accelerating in Europe,” said Henrietta Hearth, BIV’s Program Director in Paris. “We’ve seen precision fermentation as a strong technology that is enabling scientists to create alternative proteins with nutritional and taste credentials better than their dairy and meat counterparts.”

  • Cultivated Biosciences (Switzerland) — developed a strong technology to create an ingredient that adds creaminess to plant-based dairy without the need for GMO. The creamy fat is naturally produced from the fermentation of oleaginous yeast, and can mimic dairy products on sensory and functional grounds, granting an easy ingredient swap for the food industry. The team is also able to customize the fatty acid profile and protein content of this ingredient to suit various kinds of needs for their partners in the future.
  • **Genesea (Israel) — **produces high-quality ingredients from macro-algae for the food industry. The algal-protein is extracted from seaweeds, offering consumers a carbon-negative, arable land-free, fertilizer-free, pesticide-free, and gluten-free protein alternative. Their strong scalable technology, backed by industrial experience, three patents and dozens of scientific publications, allows them to optimize both the cultivation and the extraction parts of the business, and reach 92% biomass recovery of raw material into useful ingredients.
  • Mewery (Czech Republic) — is the first European cell-based food tech startup developing cultivated pork on a microalgae base. Their unique technology aims to break down barriers to scaling and accelerating the cultivated meat industry. They are developing a porcine cell line for a proprietary hybrid media which doesn't require FBS and uses microalgae growth factors to lower the production costs of cultivated meat significantly.
  • Nutropy (France) — produces milk proteins identical to those found in cow's milk to create premium French cheeses that taste as good as conventional ones while supporting the environment, animal welfare, and human health. They harness the power of cultures to improve the taste, texture, and health benefits of their products.
  • Väcka (Spain) — develops plant-based cheeses, respecting the traditional fermentation and aging processes while adding the technologies and values of the 21st century. After eight years of intensive R&D and the use of original and innovative raw materials (such as pumpkin) as substrates, Väcka has built a strong community of consumers in Spain and plans to expand globally.

About Big Idea Ventures
Big Idea Ventures (BIV) is solving the world's greatest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers. Its first fund, the New Protein Fund ($50M+ AUM) invests in global alternative protein companies at the pre-seed stage via its accelerator program and seed to series A via direct investment. New Protein Fund I is backed by leading food corporations including AAK, Avril, Bel Group, Bühler Group, Givaudan, NR Instant Produce, Meiji, Tyson Ventures, and Temasek Holdings. To date, Big Idea Ventures has invested in more than 80 alternative protein companies across 22 countries. New Protein Fund II will open in 2022.

Joining Cohort 6
We are currently accepting applications to our next program beginning this summer in New York, Paris and Singapore. All early-stage alternative protein start-ups are encouraged to apply.

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