Innovation Challenge Designed to Accelerate the Commercialisation of Plant-Based Protein Concepts

  • April 4, 2023
Innovation Challenge Designed to Accelerate the Commercialisation of Plant-Based Protein Concepts

Meatless Kingdom has been selected as the winner of the Asia-Pacific Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge, a competition designed to aid plant-based protein startups in Asia in bringing their products to market faster. Meatless Kingdom emerged as the victor following a six-month competition in which 30 companies participated.

Meat and seafood alternatives must be viable options that meet consumer demands for flavour, texture, nutrition, and food transparency if they are to truly become a solution for the growing population and a supplement to conventional proteins. The competition centred on achieving scalability, nurturing innovation, and providing consumers with distinct value propositions through authentic flavours and textures. It facilitated the exchange of innovative ideas, in-depth technical knowledge, and business acumen in order to surmount the obstacles that start-ups typically face on the path to developing market-ready solutions.

Over the course of six months, the teams and sponsors collaborated to drive and strengthen development in the alternative proteins industry. Together, they investigated the use of novel constituents such as micro algae and lupine, in addition to essential building blocks such as pea protein and specialty starches, to develop alternative protein products such as plant-based tuna substitutes. The overall objective was to enhance the dining experience and optimise the manufacturing process in order to scale production. Meatless Kingdom was chosen as the winner for their plant-based bak kwa (barbecued meat), an Asian-inspired plant-based protein that offers an affordable and appealing sensorial experience, while Eighth Day Foods was chosen as the first runner-up for their innovative product, a plant protein derived from lupine that offers a clean flavour profile.

"We are privileged to be the inaugural champion of the Asia-Pacific Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge. This experience has increased our product development expertise and knowledge in the alternative protein space. Widya Putra, CEO and Co-founder of Meatless Kingdom, hopes that this accomplishment will serve as motivation for more culinary technology startups, particularly in Indonesia.

"Winning the support of Buhler, Cargill, and Givaudan was a game-changer for Eighth Day Foods. Their willingness to share their expertise has already made a significant impact on the market readiness of our product, and their ongoing support is incredibly valuable to us as we embark on the commercialization and scaling of our innovative protein," said Lloyd Wilkins, Chief Operating Officer of Eighth Day Foods.

"Innovating a sustainable food supply is Bühler's raison d'être. Dr. Aparna Venkatesh, Regional Innovation Lead, Bühler Group, remarked, "This challenge has provided an excellent opportunity for talented start-ups from APAC to collaborate with us to innovate, experiment, and investigate new avenues for sourcing and scaling fantastic ideas." "It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the voyage of the finalists, and we're thrilled to continue bridging the gap to commercialization! The start-ups' passion and drive for finding solutions was admirable; I hope that this challenge inspires others, and that we see more acceleration of these innovators."

"The creativity and innovation demonstrated by the start-ups have been inspiring. I believe this to have been an enlightening experience for all the participating startups, and they are now able to take home prototypes that are one step closer to commercialization. The novel concepts proposed indicate that the future of plant-based protein alternatives in Asia-Pacific is bright. Meatless Kingdom offers an innovative product that delivers on taste, aroma, and cost. Kok Wei Beh, Technical Leader for Asia at Cargill, remarked, "We collaborated with the team to further enhance their product by providing functional systems to closely mimic the taste and texture of bak kwa, thereby making their product more palatable to Asian consumers."

This Scale It Up! challenge was an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with, support, and ultimately accelerate innovative start-ups from APAC in their efforts to meet the rising demand for delicious alternative proteins. The combination of the sponsor companies' expertise and resources with the innovative mindset and technologies of the start-ups can produce truly revolutionary solutions. The level of inspiration, creativity, and originality exhibited by the finalists made it extremely difficult to select a winner. Michele van der Walt, Head of Regional Innovation, APAC Taste and Wellbeing, Givaudan, stated, "I'm certain we'll see much more from all the corporations involved."

As the challenge's winner and runner-up, Meatless Kingdom and Eighth Day Foods will receive access to and use of the Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore, continued knowledge and expertise sharing from the three sponsor companies, and Cargill ingredients such as pea protein, specialty oils, and starches.

After the completion of three extremely successful challenges in North America, Europe, and now Asia-Pacific, the sponsoring companies will initiate the second edition of the challenge in North America.