Big Idea Ventures is raising up to $50 million to invest in alternative protein startups

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Hybrid venture firm Big Idea Ventures is launching the third cohort of its accelerator program investing in plant- and cell-based startups across the world.

Big Idea Ventures (BIV) is launching the third cohort of its accelerator program aiding plant-based and cell-based protein alternative startups. The program, which launched its first cohort in November 2019, is supported by The New Protein Fund. It will span over five months and be be repeated twice a year. With already over 339 applicants, applications for the third cohort, commencing in January 2021, close on September 4.

The program offers support and expert advice through a network of more than 300 investors and experts, in workshops, and with access to specialised laboratories. BIV has accumulated over $50 million worth of capital to invest in plant-based and cell-based meat startup companies, striving to normalise the alternative meat industry.

Investors in this fund include US meat manufacturer Tyson Foods, Singaporian investment group Temasek, and Swiss plant equipment manufacturer Buhler Group.

Having invested in more early-stage food companies than anyone else before, BIV’s founder Andrew D Ive is helping other investors see that the opportunities for alternative meat can go further than just burgers. BIV doesn’t agree that the rising demand for plant-based meat is just a trend. “We have all the evidence to show that [it] will remain with us for quite some time; volatile meat prices, scandals on food safety, bioplastics in seafood, viruses, zoonosis, antibiotic resistance and the Covid-19 pandemic all contribute to growing concerns over sustainable Agri-Food practices,” it states.

Once selected, the accelerator program will offer startups the following:

  • $125,000 of capital investments
  • A further $75,000 worth of in-kind services, which include: access to BIV working spaces, studio and commercial kitchens, specialised laboratories and testing facilities — both in Singapore and New York
  • Mentorship, weekly strategy meetings, and expert sessions from the network and BIV team
  • Technical support with in-house PhD food scientists/engineers and legal counsel for miscellaneous legal support

After the five months are over, the top seed stage companies can earn up to $3.5 million (£2.7 million). Commitments with all companies continue after the program is complete, with startups granted access to help and guidance from industry experts, discounted or complimentary back-office services, and tickets to ecosystem events.

To qualify for the program, BIV asks that plant-based companies have a minimum viable product and two or three professional references that have sampled their products already. They further advise candidates to have “a diverse team with specialised roles, understand their product market fit, unique selling proposition and competitive landscape”. Furthermore, companies with intellectual property will have priority; those without will be judged based on their route to market and traction.

Olivia Rafferty
Olivia Rafferty
Olivia is the Assistant Editor of The Vegan Review. An aspiring Middle Eastern correspondent currently studying journalism at City, University of London, she is passionate about the planet, she believes veganism is the first step to solving the complexities of climate change.