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Although the alternative protein industry is still relatively young, the space has grown so quickly that it is increasingly important to facilitate meaningful communication between stakeholders across the value chain. For instance, ingredient suppliers are often unaware of the end-user’s needs; conversely, end users are unaware of the capabilities and availability of ingredient suppliers. The same holds true within academia, where researchers are often unaware of the practical industry knowledge gaps or potential industry collaborators.
Broadly speaking, there is no shortage of events in alternative proteins. However, the high-profile and large-format events come at the cost of audience specificity—thus, there is a need for more curated, targeted industry events that address specific technology verticals (e.g., fermentation), aspects of the supply chain (e.g., the interface between farmers and raw material processors), and scientific questions.
To address deficits in communication among stakeholders in alternative proteins, the industry would benefit from targeted events. In particular, there is a need for more events that focus on specific aspects of the value chain or particular research questions, and events that leverage smaller group formats, facilitate a more participatory style of engagement, and emphasize relationship-building.
Examples of specific, topical events include: cell culture media optimization for seafood cell lines, a fermentation summit to convene suppliers and end-product manufacturers, or a careers call with MBA students to discuss current commercially-focused job openings at leading alternative protein companies.
Virtual events are particularly well suited to convene groups of stakeholders for highly specific subject matter, especially if participants span disparate geographies. Virtual events can also include community members with budgetary or other travel restrictions, such as academic researchers who have not yet secured grant funding for alternative protein activities.
Targeted events may be especially useful to convene stakeholders at the interface of two components of the value chain, such as a gathering of alternative protein manufacturers and food distribution companies to reveal opportunities for startups to distribute their product while enabling distributors to connect with new clientele. Regardless of event type, it will be important to minimize barriers to participation associated with financial constraints.
Targeted events play a valuable role in forging connections across the alternative protein space by providing frequent forums for information exchange about recent developments in a rapidly-changing field. Events facilitate dialogue between stakeholders across the alternative protein value chain, which proves especially impactful when startups eventually strike partnerships with incumbents such as raw material, ingredient, or distribution companies.
While thus far there has been no shortage of alternative protein industry conferences, these often select for a recurring cast of established participants. This is due, in part, because of barriers associated with travel, conference fees, or a lack of established contacts within the industry to support networking efforts. The availability of additional topic- or stakeholder-specific events providing a more personable and action-oriented collaborative experience is likely to forge higher-value connections and further accelerate both technological and commercial developments.
Noteworthy conferences in the alternative protein field:
- New Harvest Conference
- Cellular Agriculture Online Seminar
- Kind Earth.Tech
- Future Food Tech
- Industrializing Cell-Based Meats
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