Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures to invest $3M+ in FoodTech Scaleups by launching the world’s first & best-funded cross-border accelerator program

Manav Gupta

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Brinc and leading European FoodTech venture fund, Blue Horizon Ventures, will invest US$3M+ in global FoodTech startups, representing the largest cheque size for FoodTech accelerator programs worldwide. Blue Horizon Ventures will invest through Brinc’s new Scaleup Program, which will run cross-border between Singapore and Hong Kong to give growth-stage companies access to resources and partnerships throughout Southeast Asia and Greater China. The program opens callouts today and will launch in Q3 2021 and will support companies developing technologies in the following sub-verticals:

    • Plant-based proteins
    • Cellular agriculture
    • Precision fermentation
    • Nutraceuticals; Food as medicine
    • Sustainable packaging
    • Food waste innovations
    • After launching Asia’s first FoodTech program in 2018 Brinc has accelerated and invested in over 30 seed-stage food technology startups through two early-stage programs. Brinc has played an important role in helping companies develop a strong business foundation, navigate fundraising and grants, secure R&D partners that help reduce costs, and secure top tier manufacturing partners to build supply chains in Asia. However, Brinc has recognized that graduating startups from their own programs as well as from other seed-stage accelerators were struggling with their next crucial developmental milestone: commercialisation. Therefore, Brinc has designed a Scaleup accelerator program delivering curriculum and resources to address the needs of growth stage food technology companies. The program is designed to help these teams navigate the complexities of sales, business development, distribution, and securing commercial pilots and corporate engagements throughout Southeast Asia and Greater China.

     

    The program has three key objectives:

    1. Nurture Scaleup’s who wish to grow beyond their home markets into major markets in Asia, including China. In the process, Brinc aims to build up Singapore and Hong Kong as gateways to commercial opportunities across APAC.
    2. Support startups who have recently graduated from seed-stage accelerator programs in Singapore and around the world, with commercialisation, go to market strategies, corporate engagements, and growth.
    3. Help drive meaningful transformation to our global food systems recognising that technology and IP are distributed and that the largest impact will be through adoption in global emerging markets.

     

    Through the Scaleup accelerator, startups will also have access to food scientists, retailers, manufacturing and distribution partners, along with other facilities and resources. Teams will get the extended benefit of Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures’ extensive network of investors, commercial partners, industry experts and mentors. After graduation, startups will continue to receive support from Brinc’s portfolio management team in the form of capital raising guidance and be part of Brinc’s family of founders where they can learn from other founders’ experiences and grow their own networks.

    Founded in 2018, Blue Horizon Ventures is a Zurich-headquartered venture capital fund with a strong focus on FoodTech and sustainability. Their mission is to use capital to replace animal-based proteins with sustainable alternatives and transform the global food ecosystem. They closed their flagship fund at €183 million early in 2021 and currently have over 20 companies in their portfolio. Their reach spans across Europe, Latin America, and North America, where they are dedicated to supporting a generation of innovative and tech-driven companies within the industry. Notable startups in their portfolio include alternative protein and plant-based companies Mosa Meat, Biomilq, Clara Foods, Cubiq Foods, Alpha Foods, TIPA, and LIVEKINDLY, amongst others.

    The team is led by Co-founder and Managing Partner, Michael Kleindl. Michael has more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, business angel, and venture capital investor. Even more, he is the founder of a multitude of digital businesses, and his track record includes 2 IPOs and numerous exits of portfolio companies to prestigious buyers such as Amazon, Axel Springer, Experian, Deutsche Post DHL, Eventbrite, and Just Eat.

    “We are very happy about the partnership with Brinc and our extension of work and support into Singapore and Asia. We are very much looking forward to the program and hope to fund the next big innovation and back the most promising entrepreneurs.” said Michael Kliendl, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Blue Horizon Ventures.

    The Scaleup program is set to run cross-border between Singapore and Hong Kong, two regions with booming Food Tech ecosystems. With its forward-looking regulatory framework and ample government support, Singapore has grown into a central hub for food tech innovation in Asia. On the other hand, with its ease of access to capital and proximity to China, Hong Kong is the optimal testing ground and soft landing into the Mainland Chinese market. Both locations have become strategic launch pads to conquer the Asian market. and the

     

    Singapore

    Although the world is still at the early stages of the alternative protein movement, Singapore is establishing itself as South East Asia’a FoodTech hub. Through immense government support and funding, the island nation has built a robust ecosystem that is home to well-known companies such as Shiok Meats and TurtleTree Labs. Some of the Singapore government initiatives include:

    1. In, the city-state’s National Research Foundation allocated $535 million USD to bolster R&D efforts in cell therapy manufacturing, digital technology and sustainable urban food production.
    2. Singapore launched a US $72 billion plan early 2020 to prepare for the effects of the climate crisis. This will involve measures to be self-sufficient and battle food insecurity, considering Singapore imports 90% of its food due to limited land space.
    3. Amid Covid-19 and strained supply chains, the government has allocated $21 million as part of its 30×30 initiative which aims to have 30 percent of Singapore’s food produced locally by 2030.Singapore government investment arm, Temasek Holdings, is also an active player in the space, and are early shareholders in FoodTech giants, Impossible Foods and Eat Just. According to AgFunderNews, they invested some US$5 billion in the agri-food tech sector between 2014 and 2019. The vast ecosystem of over 150 VC funds, 100 active incubators and accelerators, and emerging R&D centers coupled with Singapore’s simple and efficient company incorporation process and friendly legal system has made it an attractive location for startups. 
    •  

    Most importantly, Singapore became the first country in the world to grant approval for the sale of cultured chicken in December of 2020. San Francisco-based, Eat Just, who create plant-based alternatives for egg products, were the first company to sell their cultivated meat commercially through their GOOD Meat chicken at a restaurant in Singapore. The company also just announced funding of $170M in two weeks ago (May 2021).

     

    Hong Kong and Greater China

    Hong Kong serves as an essential bridge for international food technology startups who are now eagerly looking to enter China for multiple reasons. The Chinese market is known for its unstoppable economic growth, increased purchasing power of its consumer market, and its domestic food safety issues. Consumers are becoming more conscious of their eating habits and are now willing to experiment, and pay for foreign produced food products.

    As part of their go to market strategies, plant-based giants like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat chose to pilot in Hong Kong before scaling into China. Impossible Foods introduced its flagship faux beef burgers in around 200 supermarkets in Hong Kong and Singapore in October 2020, which was the first time that their product was available for home consumption outside of their home market. In an article announcing their product launch in the Nikkei Review, an analyst said “The move will also pave the way for the plant-based meat maker to expand into mainland China, a lucrative market that consumes 28% of the world’s meat”.

    China-based investors are also giving a lot of attention to this space. A record $6 billion was invested into agri food companies in China in 2020. This was a 66% percent increase from the previous year and this rise in funding demonstrates the clear shift in Chinese investor interest towards upstream technologies that boost agri food self-sufficiency.

    Many collaborations between leading food companies and FoodTech startups have also launched in China which have proven to be critical in popularising alternative proteins for the Chinese audience, according to a report by Asymmetrics Research. For example, Starbucks partnered with Beyond Meat, Omnipork and Oatly to launch a plant-based menu in China. Food giants have also made big moves into the plant-based space, such as Nestlé who launched their own China-facing plant-based brand Harvest Gourmet at the end of 2020.

     

    Asia-Pacific Region

    The APAC alternative protein space is booming. Especially in China, where Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the world’s biggest agricultural traders, forecasted that China’s plant-based protein market will grow to $14.5 billion in 2025 from under $10 billion in 2018. The report by Asymmetrics Research, which also predicts rapid growth for this market in China, states that demand will be driven by the increased adoption of flexitarianism, due to changing consumer preferences that now concern health, the environment, and sustainability. Especially after the coronavirus pandemic, plant-based sales have risen globally due to the increased awareness about the link between large animal meat consumption and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, people want to know everything — what they are eating, where it has come from and all the consequences that come with it.

    Not only consumers, but investors are making moves upon recognising the real market opportunity for alternative proteins. More than $230M was invested in alternative protein startups in the APAC region from Nov 2019 to Nov 2020, and alternative proteins could claim as much as 22% of the overall protein market by 2035 according to a report by BCG and Blue Horizon Corporation.

     

    Source: Green Queen

    The following map of Asia’s top protein disruptors by The Good Food Institute APAC, highlights the Top 100 players within the space as of 2020. Brinc features, alongside portfolio companies Avant Meats and Phuture Foods.

     

    Source: Good Food Institute

    “The global food system is being re-written by technology. Brinc portfolio companies are creating the future of protein, making meat in the laboratory, creating dairy proteins without a cow, egg proteins without a chicken, and even human milk proteins. We are excited about the partnership with Blue Horizon Ventures. This program can be a real game changer for the Asian Alternative Protein ecosystem,” said Manav Gupta, Founder, and CEO of Brinc.

    In addition to the Scaleup program, Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures will partner to invest a minimum of USD 250,000 in seed-stage companies. This will extend capital to companies invested through Brinc’s flagship Food Tech accelerator program in Hong Kong (backed by Artesian) which launched in 2018 to support global companies, and their China Alternative Protein accelerator program in Shanghai (backed by LeverVC) which launched in 2020 which invests in Chinese FoodTech companies. Brinc’s 3-month early-stage accelerator programs operate virtually twice a year. Beyond funding, these programs provide startups with a custom-designed curriculum, access to industry experts, investors and mentors, and support with reaching critical commercialisation and fundraising milestones.

    Brinc currently operates seventeen accelerator programs across six countries and has a portfolio of 200+ companies. Their FoodTech portfolio is now made up of over 30 companies, including alternative protein, cellular agriculture, and other upstream technologies. Notable portfolio companies include:

    Avant Meats (Hong Kong) is China’s first biotech company working on large scale cell cultivation at an economically viable cost in an environmentally sustainable way to produce various meat and animal protein products. These include cultivated meat and functional marine proteins with applications in skincare and other areas. They recently closed a US$3.1M seed round from prominent regional and international investors to commercialise their cultivated fish in 2021.

    Phuture Foods (Singapore) has developed a plant-based alternative to pork for the Chinese consumer market. In addition to having a complete amino acid profile, the plant-based pork can be prepared in a variety of ways from minced, to a patty, or in chunks. Their Phuture Mince has launched in restaurants in Singapore and Thailand.

    CellX (China) is a cellular agriculture startup, working to revolutionise the traditional meat industry by producing different cell-cultivated meat products, starting with cultivated fish and pork products. Their goal is to provide a sustainable source of animal protein, better health for all human beings, and improved animal welfare.

    Brinc is excited to continue its work in the sector with the launch of the FoodTech Scaleup program and will be announcing additional global programs within this category soon. Together, Brinc and Blue Horizon Ventures are committed to supporting and backing game-changing climate-conscious startups who will help us drive meaningful change to the development of sustainable food systems.

    Applications are now open for the FoodTech Scaleup Accelerator Program. Apply now!


    About Brinc

    Brinc is a different breed of venture capital and accelerator platform. Core to their business is the belief that some of the world’s biggest challenges can be solved by entrepreneurs, who they like to call GAME CHANGERS. Brinc believes that deep technology-focused startups can fundamentally change how we move, what we eat, how we feel, and where we live for the better if they are given the right backing. That’s what Brinc believes they are here for. To support and mentor founders and their teams from across the world and provide investment to help them grow. Brinc currently operates seventeen multi-disciplinary accelerator programs across six countries and has a portfolio of over 200 companies with 150+ investments made through its accelerator programs. Learn more at www.brinc.io and learn more about Brinc’s commitment to developing sustainable systems

     

    About Blue Horizons Ventures

    Blue Horizon Ventures was founded in 2018 with €183M assets under management. The fund aims to support the movement towards a more sustainable food system through innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. It puts special focus on plant-based, cultured meat, synthetic biology, and sustainability. The underlying mission of the fund is to promote a positive global impact on the environment, human health and animal welfare. One of its requirements is that all its portfolio companies contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 set by the UN General Assembly.

    Learn more at https://www.bluehorizonventures.com

    Manav Gupta

    Manav is the Founder & CEO of Brinc, a venture capital and accelerator firm that believes that some of the world’s biggest challenges can be solved by entrepreneurs, who is excited about technology’s potential to promote equitability, sustainability, and inclusivity. Prior to founding Brinc, he founded and ran FabriQate, an international, innovative mobile technology product and platform company that won awards from HSBC, LDA KnowledgeConnect, and American Express, as well as being named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in mainland China by China’s government.

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    Manav Gupta

    Manav Gupta

    Manav is the Founder & CEO of Brinc, a venture capital and accelerator firm that believes that some of the world’s biggest challenges can be solved by entrepreneurs, who is excited about technology’s potential to promote equitability, sustainability, and inclusivity. Prior to founding Brinc, he founded and ran FabriQate, an international, innovative mobile technology product and platform company that won awards from HSBC, LDA KnowledgeConnect, and American Express, as well as being named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in mainland China by China’s government.

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    • Manav Gupta

      Manav is the Founder & CEO of Brinc, a venture capital and accelerator firm that believes that some of the world’s biggest challenges can be solved by entrepreneurs, who is excited about technology’s potential to promote equitability, sustainability, and inclusivity. Prior to founding Brinc, he founded and ran FabriQate, an international, innovative mobile technology product and platform company that won awards from HSBC, LDA KnowledgeConnect, and American Express, as well as being named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in mainland China by China’s government.

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