Technical due diligence for investors

Find support for conducting technical due diligence on alternative protein companies using plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation protein technologies.

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We recommend the questions below for pressure-testing the technical strategy of cultivated meat companies. 

Note that this list simply provides a starting point. These may need to be modified to fit a given company, and additional questions may be necessary to evaluate any particular approach. There are not necessarily right or wrong answers to any of these questions. Rather, they offer a window into the rationale behind the development of a company’s technical plan and help gauge the team’s capacity to take advantage of new opportunities and learn from new insights or previous failures. This list only comprises questions relevant to the technical approach. Investors should also ensure that they thoroughly vet financials, founders, team members, and other considerations such as the strategic value of the current investors.

Technical milestones

  • What are your technical milestones throughout the duration of this proposed funding period? For each milestone, how does it de-risk your subsequent work?
  • [For companies beyond seed round] What were the technical milestones for your previous funding period? Which ones did you meet on schedule? For any that you did not meet, what went wrong and how did you adapt your strategy to accommodate the relevant challenges? 

Cell type

  • What is the rationale for your selection of cell type? Which challenges or advantages does this cell type present in the context of a large-scale, industrial operation? 

End product

  • What is the rationale for your selection of end product? What challenges and advantages does this end product present in the context of a large-scale, industrial operation? 

Production process

  • Do your cell type and intended production process lend themselves to continuous or semi-continuous manufacturing or does it require batch processing? 
  • What do you anticipate as the greatest challenge when translating your bench-scale findings to a large-scale production environment? How will you address these challenges?

Team

  • Compared to other cultivated meat companies, how does the expertise and background of your technical team provide you with better insights for solving specific challenges? 
  • Which skill sets do you feel your technical team is currently lacking? How do you plan to address those within this next funding cycle? 
  • Which aspects of your work do you intend to conduct in-house versus contracting with a research organization, academic collaborator, or industry co-development partner? What is your rationale? Are you open to partnering on any of these aspects of your work if a new partner presents itself? Are there certain core aspects of your technology development plan that you are committed to keeping in-house? 

Technical plan/strategy

  • What is your Plan B if your initial strategy does not appear fruitful? [You can ask this for each element or work package within their technical plan.] How long will you continue pursuing Plan A before deciding that it is not viable? What specific metrics would indicate to you that it’s time to move on? Do you have a Plan C?
  • How much of your planned work could be done in parallel rather than sequentially? How much of that work do you intend to do in parallel, and what is your rationale or primary limitation? Which part(s) of your production pipeline may be automated? 

Intellectual property

  • What do you see as your critical intellectual property portfolio? Why do you feel that these solutions are unique to your company or that you will develop/commercialize them first?
  • What is your rationale for selecting which intellectual property to patent vs. retain as trade secrets? 
  • Which other industries may benefit from your in-house intellectual property? How may this impact the forging of strategic partnerships in investments, academia, or industry? How does this feed into your revenue strategy? 

Production costs

  • What cost analyses or projections have you performed? What does your cost curve look like and how have you arrived at the timing of your cost milestones? Are those milestones volume-dependent? 
  • What is your strategy to address cell culture medium or principal lab-related costs and how does this affect your cash runway? 

Investors

  • Which of your current or prospective investors do you feel have strategic value from a technical perspective? What do they bring to the table?

Recommended technical due diligence consultants

GFI’s Science & Technology team has identified several experts with a strong understanding of the underlying technology, competitive landscape, and major technical challenges facing the cultivated meat, plant-based protein, and fermentation industries. We recommend these experts as consultants for investors who are seeking a technical evaluation of the research strategies and technical teams of companies seeking investment.

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Technical educational sessions for investors

For investors new to the plant-based or cultivated meat sector, the Good Food Institute can provide no-cost educational overviews of the competitive landscape, current state of the technology, challenges and opportunities that lay ahead, and high-level insights regarding various approaches. 

We cannot comment on specific companies’ technology, nor review materials from individual companies as part of this service. Rather, we can provide industry context to complement your diligence efforts. Due to the demand for these sessions, we offer this service on a case-by-case basis and for investors who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Investors who routinely lead deals at Series A or beyond. 
  • Investors who typically join the capitalization table at Series B or beyond.

Request a technical education session 

Request an educational overview of the alternative protein competitive landscape, current state of the technology, challenges and opportunities that lay ahead, and high-level insights regarding various approaches.

Gfi director of science and technology, liz specht, at the 2018 good food conference
GFI Director of Science and Technology, Dr. Liz Specht, at the 2018 Good Food Conference
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Investor directory

Find more than 200 investors interested in funding alternative protein companies in GFI’s investor directory.

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