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Here’s how to nail your accelerator application

We were looking through the recent applications to join the ProVeg Incubator and we got to thinking about ‘what does good looks like’. What makes one accelerator application shine like a star, while another disappears in the dust? In this blog post, we share tips to help you pitch your company to our programme.

“Make sure you stand out” is probably the first piece of advice that you’ll hear when you’re filling out an application for a new job, a university place, or pretty much anything these days. It’s good advice, but it’s vague and very easy to say – but how exactly can you stand out?

We can’t tell you how to secure a slot at Harvard or make it onto the X-Factor stage (sorry). However, we can tell you how to give yourself the best chance when applying to join our accelerator programme.

Our team has worked with over 50 startups at the ProVeg Incubator, and we’ll soon be hosting our 7th cohort. Over the last few years, we’ve reviewed thousands of applications and, while no two are identical, we can definitely pin-point the things that we love to see from founders, and the things that we would rather you left out. Here is our advice to you.

Find out who you’re speaking to

Before you begin filling in the application form, make sure that this is the right programme for you. In other words, do you align with our mission? Do you have the kind of set-up, product, aspirations, and team that we’re looking for?

Just as importantly, does our programme offer you the kind of support and resources that your company needs? It’s important to be honest with yourself about all of this from the get-go.

ProVeg Incubator alumnus Formo uses precision fermentation to create dairy products

Be upfront about your USP

We want to know, right off the bat, what makes your company truly special. What is your solution for producing alternative proteins on a large scale and how will you use this to carve out a space in the market? If you can answer these questions clearly, concisely, and convincingly, you’ll be off to a great start.

Put us in the picture

You have skeletons in your closet, and that’s OK. But we’ll find them, so don’t try to hide them from us. In short, we’re asking you to be honest with your answers. That includes being transparent about any challenges. We want to understand the realities of the company that you’re building: where have you been, where are you going, and how can we help you to get there? Put us in the picture and we’ll have a real conversation.

The devil is in the detail

Check your accelerator application for typos, repetition, and mistakes before you submit it to us – sloppy writing is an instant turn-off. Our potential collaboration should be important to both of us, and that means that your submission deserves careful attention. If you’ve already read it many times, ask a colleague or friend to proofread it for you. A fresh set of eyes is always a big help!

Investor panel at the ProVeg Incubator Startup Demo Day

Face up to the nitty gritty

We know the alt-dairy and alt-protein industries are big. If they weren’t, we probably wouldn’t have jobs. What’s important here, however, is your role within those industries. We want details: tell us about the gap in the market that you will fill, and exactly why you’re the startup to do it. Don’t be superficial here – we  want to work with companies that have done their research or already have traction and can back up what they’re saying with facts and figures.

Cut the waffle

Structure your answers clearly and keep them succinct and laser-focused. We’d be hypocrites if we wrote any more than that here, so that’s all you’re getting from us on this point!

Be yourself

Let your personality shine through. We’re all just people at the end of the day and much of what makes a startup sing is the team! We love hearing from passionate entrepreneurs who are committed to building something great. Add a bit of your own style to your accelerator application and hopefully we’ll get to see it come to life in an interview.

Did you know that we accept applications to the ProVeg Incubator all year round. Although the official call for entries to join our upcoming (September 2021) cohort has closed, you can still submit an application. You might be too late to join us in September, but we would then consider you for a space with us in 2022. We look forward to hearing from you. Now, go and make sure that you stand out!

Meet the team: Luisa Goss

Luisa Pereira Goss is the Marketing and Communications Assistant at ProVeg Incubator. She is originally from Florianópolis, an island in the south of Brazil, and currently lives in Stuttgart. Luisa Goss joined the ProVeg Incubator in February 2021.

Luisa, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

As a Marketing and Communications Assistant, I support the Marketing Manager in everything that she needs. My tasks are varied, but mostly connected to content creation (blog posts, newsletters, social media posts) to promote our accelerator programme, the call for entries, events, and to support our alumni, among many other topics. I am also taking responsibility for growing our social media channels, with a particular focus  on Instagram. 

How did you end up working in this position?

I did my Bachelor in Business Administration, back in Brazil, where I got my first experiences of marketing and the startup world. However, I wanted to change my academic path to agriculture and I started my Master’s in Organic Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Hohenheim. I fell in love with the subject of food systems, and knowing how important it is to develop plant-based alternatives in order to change our current situation and try to (step-by-step) transform the global food system.  

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really like marketing and I feel super creative while working! But what I enjoy the most is to work on something with purpose. I felt so empty before, by working for a cause that I don’t believe in. 

What are some of the challenges of your job?

I think the most challenging part is the home office situation! I like to work at home, but the fact that Corona made it impossible to go to the office, even sometimes, is a struggle (especially in winter). Also, when you are having a not-so-creative day, working in marketing is tricky. You try to write, but nothing comes out! 

What are the values that drive you?

I believe that being a part of a solution for the problems we face now, supporting the development of alternatives that do not damage the environment, the animals or human health! Also, empathy is a value that drives my attitudes in life, in general. 

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I once slept in the middle of the Amazon Forest 
  2. I did Karate for four years – and won third place in a competition!
  3. Most of my friends consider me a really funny person!

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

1- The series ‘Rotten’ on Netflix, about the production of different foods (e.g. avocado, sugar, and cacao).

2- Book ‘On Fire’ by Naomi Klein. The Author presents a realistic solution for the climate crisis, by modifying our economic and political systems! 

3 – Book ‘Sapiens’: a brief history of humankind’ by Yuval Harari. Everyone knows this book but anyway, I think everybody should read it! 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I think I am quite eclectic when it comes to what to do with my free time. But mainly spending time with friends and family, drinking a beer, going to the park, doing a bike tour, etc. If it is summer, then I need to find water to swim!

If your flat was on fire and you could only save one item what would it be? (assume family and pets are safe)

This is a tough one, but I think the picture of my mum that I have on my wall, or my computer – all of my life is in there! 

If you enjoyed this blog post with Luisa Goss, check out our previous meet the team posts with Tim, Divya, and Antje.

Pitch, raise, network: our Startup Demo Day

The sixth edition of our accelerator programme has come to an end. For the last three months, we’ve been supporting nine innovative food startups from around the world. Last Friday (25 June), the companies graduated from the ProVeg Incubator, finishing off with our Startup Demo Day. Let’s take a look at how it went.

The ProVeg Incubator Startup Demo Day traditionally marks the end of each edition of our accelerator programme. It’s a huge opportunity for our founders because this is the day when they will finally pitch their companies to investors.

The Startup Demo Day is the culmination of all of our hard work together. It’s the point when our startups are ready to take their companies to the next level.

It’s also a great celebration of what our founders have achieved: the milestones they’ve hit, the products they’ve developed, the partnerships formed, and the teams that have been built. It’s a reminder of all they’ve accomplished, and a look at where they’re going next.

How does it work?

Our Startup Demo Day is hosted digitally. We used to host the event in person but, because of the pandemic, we moved it online. While we miss seeing people in real life, a digital Demo Day also has upsides. For example, we can invite guests from all over the world, without them having to come to Berlin to participate. That’s a massive advantage.

Alongside an audience of food-industry specialists, entrepreneurs, retailers, journalists, and innovators, we had a panel of expert investors joining us. Jury members comprised Kirsten Rocca from Unovis Asset Management, Cliff Johnson from Veg Capital, Tanmay Annachhatre from Blue Horizon, and José Luis Cabañero from Eatable Adventures.

After a short welcome and introduction from the Incubator, each startup had seven minutes to pitch. This was followed by a Q&A with the investor panel. Since we couldn’t offer tastings, each company shared a product video to give the audience a sense of their creations.

To finish up, the audience and jury voted for their favourite startups (we’ll get to the winners in a minute). Then we moved onto some good old-fashioned networking sessions. 

The startups?

For this Startup Demo Day, we had nine companies pitching from India, Chile, Mexico, and countries all over Europe.

Omni (UK): Omni is the world’s first vet-formulated plant-based pet-food brand. The company was founded by Dr Guy Sandelowsky and Shiv Sivakumar in order to create nutritionally complete and sustainably produced dog food.

Eggfield (Switzerland): Silvan Leibacher and David Ebneter started Eggfield in order to develop plant-based liquid and whole eggs for food manufacturers. Eggfield focuses on replacing animal-based eggs in consumer products.

Kinoko Labs (Germany): Founded by Isabella Iglesias-Musachio during the pandemic, Kinoko Labs are working on whole-cut meat and fish alternatives made from mushroom mycelium.

Dr. Guy Sandelowsky and Shiv Sivakumar, the founders of Omni

Bifidice (Chile): Bifidice harness the power of good bacteria to produce plant-based ice-cream that helps to fight allergies and chronic diseases. Anastasia Gutkevich founded the biotech company with a team of female entrepreneurs.

ProMeat (India): ProMeat are developing meat alternatives specifically tailored to the Indian market. Founded by Debabrata Das, Pranjuli Garg, and Sugriv Gupts, the company transforms indigenous crops into affordable alt-protein products.

NOKO (France): Founded by boxer-turned-entrepreneur Maxence Damarey, NOKO is developing the next generation of fight food. The company’s plant-based products are specifically designed to aid the recovery of fighters and athletes.

Root Kitchen (UK): Root Kitchen was founded by David Beaver and Rishma Remtulla in order to revolutionise the ready-meal market in the UK. The company produces affordable frozen plant-based meals in a range of authentic flavours.

Anastasia Gutkevich, the founder of Bifidice

Asanté (Mexico): Asanté produces plant-based meat and fish products inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine. Founders Iván Jiménez de Sandi and Gabriela Rivera are also working on mycelium technology in order to further improve their products.

Kern Tec (Austria): Kern Tec upcycles the discarded pits of stone fruits into new plant-based ingredients for use by the food industry. The company was founded by Michael Beitl, Luca Fichtinger, Sebastian Jeschko, and Fabian Wagesreither.

All of our founders did a truly fantastic job in pitching at our Startup Demo Day and we are so proud of all of them. Thankfully, we didn’t have to pick the winning pitches – the audience and the jury decided that for us.

Startup Demo Day audience and jury winners, Omni and Kern Tec

Omni won the audience award – meaning that they got the highest number of votes from the audience – while Kern Tec took the jury award – meaning that they scored highest with our panel of investors. Well done to both of them!

So, what now?

Just because our programme has come to an end, it doesn’t mean that we will stop supporting these startups. They will all join our growing alumni network and will receive support from us for as long as they need it.

As for us? The wheels of the Incubator never stop turning and we’re already looking for the food innovators who will join our next cohort of startups! The programme will begin at the end of September and we’re accepting applications until Sunday, 18 July.

Do you want to join us? It could be you pitching for investment at our next Startup Demo Day! If you’re an entrepreneur with the drive to transform the global food system, then we want to hear from you! Apply online here.

A week in the life of a ProVeg Incubator startup

What can you expect during a typical week of our startup programme? Take a peak!

The impact series: 6 facts you should know about egg alternatives

Continuing with the topic of impact areas, today we’re looking at egg alternatives. While consumers are eager to adopt plant-based eggs into their diets and the market is growing exponentially, it is still one of the least-explored areas in the alt-protein world.

This is our second blog post on the food sectors that ProVeg is targeting for optimal impact – chicken, eggs, and fish. These sectors are especially important to us at the ProVeg Incubator for two key reasons.

First of all, production of these animal-based foods is staggeringly high. Resulting in intensive land use, high greenhouse gas emissions, intensive resource use, and animal suffering – all of which have major detrimental effects on the environment, animal welfare, and human health.

Secondly, consumers report that these are the categories in which there just aren’t enough options on supermarket shelves. A survey by ProVeg of European consumers, for example, shows that only 11% of reducers have tried egg alternatives, despite being keen to do so.

As the demand for egg alternatives increases, meeting consumers’ expectations is a challenge for entrepreneurs. Considering that eggs of animal origin are extremely versatile, very functional, and packed with vitamins, nutrients, and protein, egg alternatives are also expected to possess all of these characteristics.

In order to explore this topic further, here are six useful facts about egg alternatives: 

The global egg alternatives market is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2026, and will grow by 5.8% from 2016 to 2026

This means that there will be more and more egg-alternative options for consumers. The market is growing steadily, with plant-based entrepreneurs increasingly attracted to this potentially lucrative field.

If you’re not happy with the egg-alternative options currently available or if you cannot find decent options in your city, it seems that you won’t have to wait too long for these products to become available. If market predictions are accurate, it is likely that the supply of egg alternatives will soon expand and diversify.

Egg alternatives can be used in several ways

As expected, baking is already on the list, but with new alternatives entering the market, it is now possible to also make omelettes, scrambled eggs, and even folded eggs from commercially available egg alternatives.

In the US, for example, there are a wide array of egg alternatives available. It is only a matter of time before these products become available on supermarket shelves worldwide.

In the meantime, numerous conventional plant-based products can be used to replace eggs in baking. Here are just a few examples:

  • Applesauce (1/4 cup = 1 large egg)
  • Mashed banana (1/4 cup = 1 large egg)
  • Water, oil, and baking powder (2 tablespoons water + 2 teaspoons baking powder + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil = 1 large egg)
  • Carbonated water (1/4 cup = 1 large egg)

With a bit of experimentation and research, you should be able to find the perfect egg substitute for your baked goods.

Photo credit: ProVeg International

Intensive use of water is required for animal egg production

Egg production requires a lot of resources, including water. As a matter of comparison, Zero Eggs, for example, claim to use 93% less water than conventional eggs, while Simply Eggless claim to use 95% less water. This is a huge difference, which means that changing our eating habits can have a substantial impact on water usage. 

Egg alternatives usually have zero cholesterol 

The debate about how healthy animal-based eggs are has been raging for decades. However, when comparing plant-based eggs to their animal-based counterparts, the former contain no cholesterol and usually have a low fat content. Egg alternatives may be a healthy alternative for those with heart disease, diabetes, or those who wish to avoid cholesterol! 

The average persons consumes 161 eggs per person per year

This number is the result of the number of eggs produced every year divided by our global population of 7.6 billion people (data from 2018). Of course, egg consumption varies between different countries. In Mexico, for example, the data shows that 368 eggs are eaten by each person per year. While in India, the average is 76 eggs per person per year.

Of course, many of the eggs consumed around the world are not eaten directly but as an ingredient in cakes, pastries, ice cream, etc. Furthermore, egg production is expanding. Since 1990, worldwide egg production has more than doubled , reaching 83.4 million tons by 2019.

When looking at this data, it’s important to think about what’s behind it. How many natural resources are we excessively using to produce a single egg? How many animals live in cruelly unnatural conditions so that supermarkets can provide a continual supply of eggs? 

Photo: Global Times

Several companies are already working on convincing egg alternatives 

These are some of the companies working in the alt-egg space:

Eat Just

Well known in the US, this startup reinvented the egg with no animals involved. Eat Just’s product line includes a liquid egg (for making scrambled egg), a folded egg, and a sous vide egg.

In 2019, Eat Just saw an 192% increase in dollar sales and is the fastest-growing company in the egg-alternative sector. Eat Just is scheduled to reach European markets in 2021.

EVO Foods 

EVO Foods is preparing to launch its liquid egg product, which is poised to have a major impact on the plant-based sector in India. The company has raised funding capital from Big Idea Ventures. 

Zero Egg

Based in Israel, Zero Egg product produces 59% less greenhouse gas emissions and uses 93% less water and 92% less land than conventional eggs. You can make scrambles, omelettes, frittatas, quiches, and a variety of baking applications by using Zero Egg’s products. Zero Egg is currently focusing on B2B partners in Europe, Israel, and the US. It is still not yet available in supermarkets.

Photo credit: Zero Egg

Simply Eggless

This US company produces egg alternatives from lupin beans. With Simply Eggless, you can cook a variety of traditional egg-based dishes. 

Eggfield

Part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator, Swiss startup Eggfield is developing whole and liquid egg alternatives for use in baking and cooking. The team’s goal is to support food-industry partners in their transition to plant-based product ranges. 

As the ProVeg Incubator has a particular focus on chicken, egg, and fish alternatives, we strongly encourage startups working on food solutions in these sectors to apply to join our next cohort! Look out for our third piece in this series – which will delve into fish and will be‌ ‌coming‌ ‌soon.

Meet the team: Divya Murthy

Divya Murthy is the Startup Analyst & Coach at the ProVeg Incubator. She was born in Bangalore, India but grew up in Mumbai. Divya moved to Berlin in 2018 and has been working at the ProVeg Incubator since July 2020. 

Divya, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

As the Startup Analyst & Coach, I am in charge of evaluating companies to facilitate ProVeg’s investments in the plant-based and cultured food sector. I also help with assessing startups that have applied to our programme.

Once the programme begins, I work closely with the founders to help understand their needs, focus their strategy, and to support them. Apart from these focus areas, I have also been collaborating with the team to design and implement processes that would help us in our evaluations. 

How did you land this position?

After completing my Masters in Business Administration, I worked across roles in mergers and acquisitions, corporate credit rating, and risk advisory. Having worked only in the finance and consulting space all my life, I was looking for a change – something that would help me make a difference.

Around this time, I was educating myself on climate change and animal welfare. Finally, in 2019, I made the decision to move to a plant-based lifestyle.

I started attending events on the topic and at one such event, I met Albrecht, the Head of ProVeg Incubator, and we stayed in touch. A few months later, I found out that this position had opened up and I had to give it a shot!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is safe to say that my work is a huge source of hope and inspiration. This is especially true since I joined the Incubator during the pandemic.

It is great to meet and interact with so many passionate people who are working towards building a better future. I also really enjoy interacting with founders, brainstorming strategies, and supporting them so that we can build a stronger ecosystem, together.

What are the challenges of your job?

The biggest challenge is definitely not being able to help everyone we want to. That would be nearly impossible. We meet so many passionate and hard-working founders that it is truly difficult to choose who we can support and who we can’t. 

What are the values that drive you?

Respect for all beings, empathy, and fairness.

Divya, tell us three interesting facts about yourself

  1. I am a trained Indian classical singer and I was part of my college band.
  2. Playing board games is something I LOVE. I recently discovered Catan and I am absolutely hooked. 
  3. I would do anything to get GOOD Indian food in Berlin. This includes travelling long-distances, sometimes to a different city, and in really extreme situations – cooking it myself.

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

  1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – My late grandfather gifted me this book and it brought so much clarity in my perspectives on many things from religion to capitalism.
  2. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet – A beautifully shot documentary that is imploring, heart-wrenching, and inspiring at the same time.
  3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – I enjoyed his audiobook and I love his perspectives on a lot of topics. Disclaimer: I am a huge fan, so I may be biased.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy cycling and hiking whenever the sun is out. I like hanging out with friends and playing games. Recently have started painting, which is almost meditative. 

If your flat was on fire and you could only save one item what would it be? (assume family and pets are safe)

All the devices I have with photographs on them.

If you enjoyed this blog post, check out our previous meet the team posts with Tim, Albrecht, and Antje.

Applications now open for the ProVeg Incubator food business accelerator

Food business accelerator: applications now open

The ProVeg Incubator is open for applications! Pioneering plant-based, fermentation, and cultured-food startups can apply to join the next edition of our food business accelerator programme, starting in September. What do we look for in a startup? How does the application process look? What will you get out of our programme? Read on to find out…

The alt-protein sector has been growing steadily in recent years – a trend that is projected to continue. Across all regions, an increasing number of consumers opt to add plant-based food to their meals. At the same time, we also witness the spread of novel approaches, based on cellular agriculture and fermentation. 

The demand for healthier and more sustainable sources of protein is one of the most visible trends in the food industry. Startup founders have a pivotal role to play in this picture. Creating something entirely new, by definition, requires innovation. 

This is why we are calling on you to apply to the ProVeg Incubator programme today.

The application process

We welcome applications from all over the world. Ranging from Stockholm to Santiago de Chile, the location of our alumni startups reflects our international outlook. The global food system is ripe for disruption, and because of that, people of all backgrounds have much to contribute to our goals. Some critical areas that require change are broadly shared across sectors and geographical areas, but others will be specific to one. We welcome ideas on how to tackle each and all of them.

The application process for our food business accelerator is very streamlined by design. Fill in and submit the application form, where you will tell us about the product (or project) that you are developing. 

Once all applications are reviewed, a subset of startups are invited to the second stage: an interview with the Incubator team. The third and final stage in the application process involves pitching your startup – be ready for questions about the product, the team and the company’s vision. 

Having completed this phase, the final selection will be announced.

What we look for

We are on the lookout for startups with the ambition and ability to bring change to our food system.

The 20th century left us with an unsustainable approach to everyday nutrition. Because of that, we want to promote the development of new products that address this legacy.

If your plans are a good match for our goals, the ProVeg Incubator can be the right tool to scale up your fledgeling company.

The key points are:

  • Removing animals from the food chain;
  • Scalable innovation: the approach must eventually be capable to reach many, rather than a few;
  • Impactful innovation: the idea must be able to make a dent in the problem;
  • Defensible: you can protect what you are doing from competitors, big or small;
  • Backed by a strong team: without one, the startup will struggle to hit its goals.

These are the basic points. To be a strong contender, your team should also meet the broader criteria of what we look for in a startup.

Who we have already worked with

The ProVeg Incubator has a track record in propelling early-stage startups to global relevance. Alumni from our previous cohorts include:

  • Mushlabs – cohort of 2018. Raised $10 million in its series A investment round.
  • Formo – cohort of 2019. Raised $4.7 million in seed funding.
  • Remilk – cohort of 2020. Raised $11.3 million in December 2020.
  • The nu company – cohort of 2018. Raised $4.4 million in October 2020.

What you get out of it

ProVeg’s commitment to food sustainability is well known, and the Incubator shares this same philosophy. Likewise, we will make sure that successful applicants receive some of the best training and mentorship available.

To that end, the startups that make it into the programme will enjoy access to meeting with investors, and networking events involving angels and VCs active in the food-tech space.

A tailormade, 12-week acceleration programme provides workshops on financial modelling, branding, go-to-market strategies and other specialised subjects. This will provide an accessible way to expand the knowledge set of your team. 

Startups that make it into the programme can receive up to €200,000 in funding. Having some extra cash on your balance sheet will surely help you to recruit the best talent, and invest in R&D. Well-funded start-ups are able to develop and scale up rapidly, and in doing so, can leave competitors in the dust. 

Startups will also have access to one-on-one mentorship from some of the leading voices in the food space. Our network of over 50 mentors have faced – and overcome – many of the same challenges your startup will meet. They can accordingly provide tailormade, individualised advice on matters ranging from branding and product development to team building.

What we ask of you

Your startup will be able to attend the food business accelerator remotely. However, a steady time commitment is necessary to attend the programme’s events. The founders must be willing to put in the work to guarantee they will make the most of the experience.

While there are no strict linguistic requirements, the team must be able to operate in an English-speaking environment. This is to ensure that everyone will be able to participate effectively.


Apply now to join the 2021 cohort! The deadline for submitting applications is 18 July 2021.

Meet our latest cohort of food startups

Nine startups, based all around the world, from Santiago to Delhi to London to Berlin, comprise our new cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. The founders of these plant-based and food-tech startups are about to set foot on a path that will lead them closer to achieving their goals.

There is no finishing line in the race towards innovation. And for the new cohort of food startups joining the ProVeg Incubator today (April 7), the pace will only increase.

Over the next 12 weeks, we’ll be supporting nine startups from all over the world on their mission to transform the global food system.

It is this goal that unites the companies – some of which are as far removed from each other in their sector of activity as they are geographically: the goal to pursue innovation in the service of the environment and global health.

Read on to meet each of the startups joining our sixth cohort. You’ll also get an introduction to the inspiring founding teams and their innovative products.

Asanté (Mexico): plant-based food startup championing Mexican cuisine

Asanté's plant-based meat-and-fish product line

Asanté’s plant-based meat-and-fish product line

Based in Mexico City, Asanté is carving out a slice of the ever-growing plant-based meat-and-fish sector in North America. This pioneering company’s range of products, based on traditional Mexican cuisine, including pastor, cochinita, and barbacoa, are already on sale in Mexico and the US.

Iván Jiménez de Sandi and Gabriela Rivera founded Asanté to support more people moving towards a plant-based lifestyle. Backed by a team of scientists specialising in biotechnology and molecular biology, the duo is working on mycelium technology in order to further improve their products and build a resilient and low-cost production platform.

Bifidice (Chile): one of our startups is creating probiotic ice cream

Let’s head further south now, to a startup that is revolutionising one of the world’s favourite treats. Bifidice, based in Santiago, Chile, is a biotech company that creates plant-based ice-cream containing powerful probiotic bacteria that help to fight allergies and chronic diseases. The probiotic – known as Bifidum N1 – is also an effective protector of gut flora.

The company’s name, Bidifice, reflects the fruits of the research into which Anastasia Gutkevich has poured years of her life. Maria Jose Buttazzoni, the CMO of Bifidice with 10 years of experience in the field of child nutrition, completes the team.

EggField (Switzerland): growing plant-based eggs

Zurich-based startup EggField aims to achieve what their name suggests – to grow eggs similarly to how seeds are sown in a field. The plant-based origin of their egg alternatives makes this possible. 

By betting on the budding area of plant-based eggs, EggFields aims to do for chickens what plant-based milk is achieving for cows – putting an end to the practice of factory farming.

The founding team behind EggField – Silvan Leibacher and David Ebneter – combine many years of experience in the baking and food-engineering industries in order to develop their cutting-edge products.

Kern Tec (Austria): the food-tech startup upcycling fruit pits

The founding Team behind Kern Tec, the food tech startup

The founding team behind food-tech startup Kern Tec

Cherries, apricots, and plums are all delicious fruits that come with rather less delicious pits inside. The pits can bloom into beautiful trees, but how best to use them if we have no plans to take up horticulture?

Enter Kern Tec, a Vienna-based startup that is turning these otherwise unusable by-products into a resource. The company is upcycling discarded fruit pits in order to develop high-value raw materials for dairy and other plant-based alternatives.

Kern Tec’s founding team comprises Michael Beitl, Luca Fichtinger, Sebastian Jeschko, and Fabian Wagesreither.

Kinoko Labs (Germany): mycelium-based meat alternatives

Using mushroom mycelium (the root-like filaments of fungi), Kinoko Labs is producing plant-based alternatives to meat and fish.

By working on a new generation of alt-proteins, the Berlin-based company plans to accelerate the adoption of sustainable protein sources – without compromising on taste or nutrition.

Isabella Iglesias-Musachio is the CEO of Kinoko Labs. Scientific advisor Branden Wolner, along with scientific consultants Pedro Gonçalves and Rafael Philippini, complete the founding team.

NØKO (France): pro-performance supplements for athletes

The NOKO Team believes in a plant-based path towards athletic achievement

NOKO believes in a plant-based path towards athletic achievement

Plant-based sport supplements are something of a new frontier, and one that French startup Noko is not afraid to explore. Noko promises to prepare the most dedicated of athletes for the toughest challenges, by supplying them with pro-performance, healthy, and sustainably-produced food.

Maxence Damarey, one of the co-founders, stands witness to the products’ effectiveness. He himself is an experienced sportsman – both an undefeated professional boxer and certified personal trainer.

On the other side of the aisle, Maxence’s co-founding partner Olivier Dahan is influential in the French food industry. He has worked with brands like Oreo, Tim-Tam, and Daim.

Omni (UK): plant-based startup innovating the pet-food sector

Based in London, Omni is a pet-food startup that produces nutritionally complete tasty treats that won’t leave dogs wanting for their old kibble. The Omni product range provides a well-balanced, nutritionally complete source of protein, with a laser focus on pet health.

By promoting the transition to sustainable protein sources, Omni also stands to reduce the negative environmental impact of producing factory-farmed meats.

Omni was founded by a team of three. Dr Guy Sandelowsky is a highly experienced veterinary surgeon and biomedical scientist. Shiv Sivakumar, a former investment banker and Jo Barrow, an ex Buzzfeed writer turned marketeer completes the trio.

ProMeat (India): chicken alternatives from indigenous crops

The only meat in this plant-based startup is in the name. ProMeat develops chicken alternatives – burger patties, minced meat, and kebabs – by combining cutting-edge technology with underused, indigenous crops.

The Delhi-based startup is well positioned to capture the attention of the world’s largest flexitarian audience.

CEO Debabrata Das is a food-technology manager with a penchant for the food-processing sector. Pranjuli Garg, COO, has a proven track record in research, quality assurance, and data analysis. Sugriv Gupts, who has expertise in new product development and quality control, completes the founding team.

Root Kitchen (UK): plant-based ready meals

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Root Kitchen is bringing all of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle into frozen, ready-made meals in recyclable packaging. When it comes to alternative-protein, this is an underserved market segment. Root Kitchen wants to change that.

The startup is targeting the D2C meal-subscription and retail markets with affordable, enjoyable products. They have developed numerous meal varieties including Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, Aubergine Al Forno, and Thai Red Curry.

Root Kitchen’s founding team comprises David Beaver and Rishma Remtulla. David heads up marketing, brand management and sales. Rishma Remtulla is also responsible for sales and leads on product development and category analysis.


We will be sharing more information about these startups as they progress through our programme, including Q+As with the founders. We’ll also be posting programme updates so you can read about their progress and achievements.

Supporting food innovators is at the core of what we do at the ProVeg Incubator. If you’re working in plant-based or cultured food innovation, apply now to join our next cohort of startups.

The impact series: chicken alternatives

Our food system is complex. Everything is connected – from land use to animal welfare to the environment to human health. The result is that the impact of changing something in our food system will be widespread. At the ProVeg Incubator, we have identified three impact areas that we want to focus on: chicken, egg, and fish alternatives. Today, we’ll delve deeper into the first of these topics.

The plant-based and cultivated food industries are growing at a phenomenal rate. However, not all products are yet reaching the standard that consumers want or expect. In addition, some food categories do more to reduce the global consumption of animals than others.

At the ProVeg Incubator, we want our work to have a major impact. That is why we focus on supporting startups that are capable of functioning on a large scale and removing as many animals as possible from the food system.

Based on industry research, consumer studies, and our work with startups, we have identified three categories that are particularly important for us: chicken, egg, and fish alternatives.

Why? Firstly, animal-based versions of these foods are consumed in staggering quantities across the world. To change that, we need to get delicious, affordable alternatives into the hands of consumers.

Secondly, alternatives to conventional chicken, egg, and fish products are in high demand. Consumers are already keen to make the switch and are just waiting for the perfect products.

The hidden facts

Every year, around 50 billion chickens are slaughtered for food. Yet, some people still suggest that eating chicken is not as harmful to the environment as other types of meat production.

While it is true that beef production is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than other types of meat, this doesn’t make the poultry industry any less lethal. The impact of producing chicken in the way that we currently do is detrimental to animals, the ecosystem, and human health. From 1990 to 2013, global poultry consumption increased by 165%. This is not sustainable.

Our food system is so deeply embedded in the animal-based industry that a third of the world’s croplands are used to produce feed for animals. If we had used this area to grow vegetables or to plant trees, we could have been on a different path – in terms of world hunger, the climate crisis, and the preservation of nature.

Soybean production in Brazil. Credit: The Conversation

Where do we go from here?

It is easy to read these facts and figures and think  “ok, we are lost”. But we can see it from another perspective. As frightening as the poultry industry data is, the impact of reducing the consumption of chicken is enormous. What is key here is consumer demand, and we’re moving in the right direction.

The plant-based sector is expected to reach a value of around $8.3 billion by 2025. This means that we can expect to see more and more plant-based options becoming available, with potentially lucrative opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs.

What’s more, in Europe alone, the number of vegans has doubled in the last four years. In addition, around 22.9% of the European population consider themselves to be flexitarians.

According to a survey by ProVeg International, plant-based meat that mimics the texture and flavor of animal-based meat is one of the products that consumers most desire. 

Plant-based chicken curry from Naka Foods

Impacting trends

As the plant-based sector attracts more and more attention, new players, technologies, and ingredients are coming into play. According to a Forbes article on top plant-based trends, 2020 was the year of vegan chicken. This was supported by rising consumer demand and a wave of new products coming onto the market.

There is such a diversity of plant-based products out there that it is now possible to please an increasing number of consumers. From fast food takeaways to ready meals to ingredients for traditional dishes, plant-based options are becoming increasingly common.

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement and new innovations. Plant-based eating is more than just another trend. The impact of moving to a more plant-based lifestyle is real and it makes a difference. 

Currently, humans eat more meat than ever before. While the population has doubled in the last 50 years, the amount of meat we produce and consume has tripled, with the poultry sector showing the largest increase (measured in millions of metric tons).

We can change this scenario, however, with affordable, attractive, and widely available alternatives. For that, we need to encourage new ideas and innovations, seeking global reach. 

Meet some startups

To play a role in transforming the global food system, several startups are already creating chicken alternatives from diverse ingredients, in different parts of the world. Some of the companies are graduates of the ProVeg Incubator.

Haofood

Haofood is a Chinese startup making peanut-based fried chicken. The company’s first product is designed for use in popular Asian chicken dishes. Haofood products are currently available in restaurants across Shanghai and will soon be available to buy online.

Indonesian Ayam Geprek dish from Haofood

Greenwise

Launched in 2019, this startup develops plant-based chicken strips and fillets – as part of its wider plant-based meat range. Based in Russia, Greenwise products are already on sale across Europe, Asia, and Australasia. The team has plans to expand to additional European markets soon, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

Naka Foods

Based in India, Naka Foods has created plant-based alternatives for dishes such as chicken curry, chicken biryani, and chicken nuggets. The company produces alternatives to animal-based products using healthier and more sustainable ingredients, including jackfruit, spirulina, and chickpeas.

Plant-based chicken nuggets from Naka Foods

Like Meat

LikeMeat, founded in Germany in 2013, has developed a plant-based chicken analogue they call ‘Like Chicken’. Its products are available in more than 15,000 stores across 10 European countries. As a result, the company is one of the leaders of the European market in this space. Soya beans are the main ingredient of Like Chicken, GMO-free, and packaged with recycled materials. 

The negative impact of eating animal-based chicken is huge, this cannot be any longer denied. We’re excited to see that so many entrepreneurs are innovating in the plant-based-chicken space and that consumers are ready to sample and purchase these products. Look out for our next impact-area blog, which will focus on eggs! Also, we are happy to announce that our next cohort, starting in April, will have startups from all three of our impact areas – chicken, egg, and fish. Keep your eyes peeled for news from the ProVeg Incubator and be sure not to miss any exciting updates from us!

Meet the team: Tim-Daniel Schulz

Tim-Daniel Schulz is the Event and Office Manager at the ProVeg Incubator. Tim was born in Berlin, but grew up in the very north of Germany, in a small town in Schleswig-Holstein, by the Baltic Sea. He came back to Berlin in 2014 and joined ProVeg in 2019.

Tim-Daniel, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

I am responsible for supporting most of the things that happen in the Incubator as a space. This includes, for example, special live events like our Startup Demo Day, webinars, tastings, meetups, and external events.

Lately, these events happen online mostly, so I’ve turned into an expert of sorts for anything Zoom or webinar-related. On top of that, I make sure that everything needed for the day-to-day business at the co-working space is there and working.

How did you land this position?

After I finished my B.A. Language & Communication I started an internship at an event and promotion agency in Berlin. That then turned into my first full-time job. Having been vegan for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to work in that area as well.

I first got in touch with ProVeg by helping to organise the Vegan Summerfest Berlin in 2018. I stayed in touch with some of the people working here and eventually, when the position at the Incubator opened, I had to apply!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the vibe at the Incubator. We have a small team with great chemistry, and being surrounded by these highly motivated startup founders and their exciting projects is super inspiring. Also, I love our open co-working space.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

The main challenge for me is to get events — online and offline — off the ground that get as many of our stakeholders interested as possible. Lately, of course, everything has to happen online and it’s getting more and more difficult to get people excited about webinars and online events in general.

What are the values that drive you?

I want to be part of the solution to many issues the world is facing these days. Helping people to change their lifestyle towards a more or completely plant-based one by presenting them great alternatives, not by being judgy or talking them into it (because that only works with very few people), seems like a good approach.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. As a child, I once had a main part in an episode of a German TV show about coastguards.
  2. My vegan journey started through sheer curiosity (leaving away meat for a month with my flatmate). Other aspects like health and ethics came into play later on, as I educated myself.
  3. I am able to stay calm in very stressful situations.

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

  1. Podcast: Wind of Change — great if you are into history and/or spy stories and find conspiracy theories and their origins fascinating.
  2. Book: Watchmen (a graphic novel, I hope that counts) — pro tip: after reading it, definitely watch the HBO series by the same name, too!
  3. Documentary: The Game Changers — had to sneak a little bit of vegan propaganda in here 😉 Seriously though, it’s pretty well-done (and, as far as I know, well-researched. Even if some people like to suggest the opposite). Definitely worth a watch.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

The most frequent thing would be Crossfit. I also love to watch movies (preferably in an actual cinema) and cooking.

If your flat was on fire and you could only save one item (assume family and pets are safe) what would it be?

The watch my father gave to me when I was 15.

If you enjoyed this blog about Tim-Daniel Schulz, check out our previous posts from Albrecht Wolfmeyer and Antje Räuscher.

Meet the team: Antje Räuscher

Antje Räuscher is the Programme & Innovation Manager at the ProVeg Incubator. Antje is originally from the north sea but grew up in Halle an der Saale. Before joining ProVeg in March 2019, she had lived in Shanghai, Seoul, and Denmark. 

Antje, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

As a Programme and Innovation Manager I am leading the programming side of our operations. That means that I design and organise the tailormade accelerator programme that we deliver to our startups. I also work closely with the founders of those startups on their strategies and keep them aligned with their goals.

In addition, I am responsible for scouting new startups to join the ProVeg Incubator and lead the selection process that decides the companies we’ll work with. I also work to expand our strategic partner network in key areas.

How did you end up working in this position?

Food was always something I wanted to work in, especially because it cuts across so many different disciplines and has such an impact on people’s lives.

I completed a stint in international development cooperation, working on topics such as food security and sustainable supply chains. I was with the German Development Agency in Sri Lanka where I worked with and consulted startups before I joined the Proveg Incubator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job at the ProVeg Incubator allows me to meet and work alongside so many inspiring, driven, and genuinely nice people which is truly gratifying. I think this is very special to the alternative protein industry. It’s a very exciting space but it’s also just full of people who are keen to contribute towards a better food system. 

What are some of the challenges of your job?

For me personally, the biggest challenge is to say no to certain startups who apply for our programme. There are so many hard-working and mission-driven founders out there, that it would be impossible for us to work with them all. However, sometimes it is just really difficult to have to turn startups down.

What are the values that drive you?

Integrity, making a difference, and having fun along the way.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I worked in Tanzanian villages for three months
  2. My sense of smell is very good
  3. I know where to find the best spicy food in Berlin

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

The Sympathizer (book), Verbrechen Podcast, Home of the Brave (Podcast), My Octopus Teacher (documentary)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Eating, hiking, mushroom foraging, spending time with friends, and playing games.

If your flat was on fire, what items would you save? (assume family and pets are safe)

This is impossible to answer, I have so much stuff. 

We are celebrating our second birthday!

Today (1 November) the ProVeg Incubator turns two years old. Since launching, we have reached many milestones on our mission to transform the global food system. To celebrate our second birthday, we’d like to share some of the highlights with you.

On World Vegan Day 2018, the ProVeg Incubator officially opened its doors for the first time. The months have whizzed by since then, and, somehow, we’re already celebrating our second birthday!

The ProVeg Incubator was launched by ProVeg as part of its mission to reduce the global consumption of animals. It was the world’s first incubator to exclusively support startups producing alternatives to animal-based foods. 

If people are to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle, we strongly believe that they need to be provided with products they will love. Consumers will eat fewer eggs and less seafood, for example, when they can purchase attractive, accessible, affordable alternatives. That’s where our startups come in.

We are supporting the companies at the forefront of innovation. Our alumni have developed a whole range of plant-based and cultured-food products, ingredients, and supporting technologies. In the last two years, we’ve achieved a lot together. Let’s take a look at the highlights…

We’ve built a startup community

To date, the ProVeg Incubator has supported more than 45 startups from around the world. We’ve worked with plant-based meat companies in Russia, fermented dairy startups out of Israel and Germany, and cultured food companies from Latin America to Australia.

Founders from the Incubator’s second cohort of startups

Over 100 entrepreneurs have participated in the ProVeg Incubator programme. They have gone on to continue building thriving businesses and we’re proud to be helping them along that journey. 

However, this is also much bigger than any one individual’s success. What we’ve built is a life-long startup community. A collective, collaborative hub of entrepreneurs that continue to share knowledge, advise one another, and help each other tackle challenges.

We are funding startups

Running out of money is one of the top reasons for the failure of new companies, so securing funding is crucial for a startup’s success and sustainability. At the start of 2020, the ProVeg Incubator announced it would be expanding its support package to startups by including grants and financial investment.

Every startup that joins the programme now receives a grant of 20,000 Euros. There is also the option for follow-up investment of up to 180,000 Euros following the completion of the programme. In addition, we connect founders with investors from our network in order to help  them secure the funds they need to build their companies.

Two of the founders of Update Foods, Clémence Landeau and Céline Bouvier

We are supporting female entrepreneurs

The food industry remains male-dominated. However, more and more female entrepreneurs and scientists are moving into this sector and choosing to start their own companies.

With every call for entries that we launch, we are receiving increasing numbers of applications from startups with women in leading roles. In fact, the majority of the entrepreneurs in our latest cohort, which kicked off last week, are women.

We’re helping startups to get their products onto shelves

Our alumni have launched over 40 products onto the retail market. That means that the foods they are producing are out there in the world, being purchased by consumers as alternatives to conventional meat, dairy, and animal-based snacks.

Greenwise, for example, is selling its plant-based meat in more than 2,000 stores in Russia. You can find the Nu Company’s chocolate bars in 16 countries worldwide. Better Nature’s tempeh products are available in UK supermarkets and online via Amazon. And in Germany, you’ll find Vly Foods, Mondarella, Cashewbert, and Von Georgia products stocked in supermarkets, drug stores, and cafes.

Chocolate bars from the nu company are on sale in 15+ countries

And those are just the plant-based examples. Food tech companies such as Mushlabs and Legendairy Foods that are working on fermentation, require more time before they can launch tangible products to the public. However, when they –  and others – do, it’s likely to change the face of the food sector fundamentally.

We stood together against corona

Companies, big and small around the world, have been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. When the first lockdown was announced in March, we were just weeks away from launching our first startup cohort of 2020.

We decided to stand up for startups in these trying times and swiftly moved our whole programme online. By the end of this year, we will have hosted two full cohorts of startups digitally.

The ProVeg Incubator’s first digital cohort of startups

Our job is to support and accelerate startups. We’re proud to have been able to continue to do that, even under particularly tricky circumstances.

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