The success of early-days products has demonstrated strong consumer interest, but investment is needed to enable alternative protein supply chain companies to build out the infrastructure needed to capitalize on this opportunity. In particular, there is a need for debt-based financing that can be structured to support large infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure leasing for production and processing facilities as well as capital equipment would enable alternative protein companies to rapidly expand capacity without large upfront capital investments. Having leasing funds and leasing companies with an alternative protein focus could entice corporate players who otherwise would not have considered alternative proteins to enter the space. They could also spare many smaller alternative protein startups from undertaking relatively expensive, equity-backed capital raises early in their expansion.
The alternative protein industry has a significant need for workers and innovators with specialized knowledge spanning multiple traditional disciplines. However, since few universities offer alternative protein majors or dedicated subject matter, most alternative protein knowledge has to be learned on the job. The alternative protein industry needs educational programming that can cover the depth and complexity of knowledge, experience, and skills required within the context of traditional academic institutions as well as post-graduate professional development and training opportunities.
Events targeted at promoting opportunities in alternative protein investment via specialized funds could facilitate and diversify investment.
More frameworks for academic-industry collaboration could help build talent pipelines, create research commercialization pathways, and drive alignment on research priorities.
Microbial fermentation provides an efficient method for generating lipid molecules that are chemically identical to those produced by animals. Research efforts are needed to expand current knowledge about the process of engineering the appropriate metabolic pathways for the synthesis of animal lipids into microbial organisms well-suited for large-scale fermentation.
Fat and moisture retention are critical to the organoleptic properties of meat and must be perfected across all alternative protein platforms. Solutions for encapsulating fat and moisture are necessary to ensure that these components are protected from damage or loss throughout manufacturing, storage, cooking, and mastication.
More alternative protein capacity—different geographies, expertise, and programming—is needed in the incubator and accelerator landscape to de-risk venture capital investment.
Corporations can build out venture capital arms—including building dedicated incubators and opening their facilities—to facilitate strategic partnerships.