There is a significant and urgent need to launch and support university and online courses in order to build and extend the talent pipeline of students going into the alternative protein industry. Coursework can range from introductory to highly specialized, and will ideally be focused specifically on alternative proteins, but support for degree programs in enabling sciences will also be useful to the industry. A platform for sharing curriculum across institutions will empower new entrants to more easily build their own alternative protein courses.
Investors specializing in alternative proteins should be leveraged to educate the broader investment community through coalitions, syndicated deals, and co-investments with industry-agnostic investors, and spearhead efforts to facilitate later-stage funding like debt and inventory financing.
Universities are epicenters for creative problem-solving and cutting-edge research advancements, and they can serve as engines for interdisciplinary innovation. However, this potential is not being tapped fully by the alternative protein industry. University student groups at key universities can foster robust, in-person communities for students and researchers interested in elevating the profile of alternative proteins within the academy. This will generate a talent pipeline of informed and empowered young people poised to enter the sector after their education while simultaneously spurring greater awareness and involvement among established faculty members.
While emerging fermentation-derived ingredient companies often optimize their strain’s productivity in-house, it may be more efficacious for startups to engage contract research organizations with both deep microbial strain development expertise and also intimate familiarity with the unique considerations of the alternative protein sector.
Guaranteed offtake agreements, where buyers commit to purchase a volume of product, can help secure loans for infrastructure and other high-cost projects.
Open-access product formulation specifications could provide clear metrics and objectives for product developers on attributes like taste, price, nutrition, and ingredient ratios.
Opportunities exist to coordinate product development partnerships between ingredient suppliers, strategic partners, and product manufacturers to directly engage more holistically on product formulation.
Coordinated efforts to develop standardized, comprehensive research toolkits of meat-relevant species would exponentially accelerate cultivated meat research.
Companies entering the alt protein space often struggle to secure line time at demonstration-scale and mid-scale commercial production facilities. Greater availability of mid-scale contract capacity would reduce capital outlays and facilitate scaling, allowing alt protein companies to maintain greater control over their equity and exercise more influence within the supply chain. Contracting production allows for a more modular supply chain, with participants achieving gains from specialization, allowing for better financial and organizational structuring around core competencies.
Resources and services that make it easier to locate, filter, and prioritize sales and partnership efforts would ease transactional burdens for startups and add value to existing companies looking for new partners, customers, and trends.