Big Idea Ventures, Ashika Group, GFI India team up to launch alternative protein fund and accelerator

Giving a boost to the growing alternative protein sector, global investor Big Idea Ventures (BIV), Kolkata-based financial services firm Ashika Group, and non-profit Good Food Institute India (GFI India) have joined hands to launch India Alternative Protein Fund and Accelerator.

According to the official statement, the BIV-Ashika India Alternative Protein Fund will launch an accelerator in 2021, which will support startups involved in innovative plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated protein industries, with investments and mentorship to help them grow across the Indian and international market.

The alternative protein or ‘smart protein’ sector is soaring globally, with rapidly growing global consumption and billions of dollars in investments in companies such as plant-based meat and egg pioneers Beyond Meat and Eat Just, Inc. GFI India has undertaken research which underscores Indian consumers are primed to eat these foods in line with their global counterparts, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic brings increased attention on the risk of zoonotic disease and climate change,” the statement noted.

A recent report by Meticulous Market Research revealed that the global alternative protein market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5 percent from 2019 to become a $17.9 billion market by 2025.

Indian Food Fads

New opportunities for entrepreneurs

The fund and accelerator will support startups that are focusing on developing innovative plant-based, fermentation-derived, cultivated meat, seafood, egg, dairy foods, and are also environment friendly by using less land and water.

“Alternative protein is a key lever in our fight against climate change, malnutrition, food insecurity, and public health risks. It’s also a huge opportunity for business and job growth, with participation across the board from governments, large food and animal meat companies, and entrepreneurs,” said Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India in a statement.

He said that the Indian ecosystem is expected to grow over the next few years by leveraging the country’s talent and agricultural biodiversity, and this fund will be a big step forward towards achieving the growth.

The firms announced that they have already started raising a $25 million fund for India and might start accepting applications for the Mumbai-based accelerator next year onwards. The selected startups will receive funding, hand holding, mentorship, and access to Indian and international network of corporate partners, restaurateurs, retailers, and other investors as part of the accelerator programme.

Alternative protein is a major opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs and corporate players to get involved in the future of food. We’re looking forward to supporting Indian entrepreneurs through the BIV-Ashika India Alternative Protein Fund, and bringing our expertise in fundraising and scaling F&B businesses to their journey,” said Chirag Jain, CEO, Ashika Group.

BIV has already been operating a $50 million international fund and two accelerators across New York and Singapore, and has already invested in more than 20 ventures across the globe, including Mumbai-based foodtech startup, Evo Foods. The VC firm claims to have been working with alternative protein think tank GFI India for over a year to understand the market opportunity in India.

It has now joined hands with Ashika Group to manage the investment fund as the company has experience in helping several Indian companies in the food & beverage sector raise funding and scale operations.

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