The central expert organization thought leader, and convening body in the Indian ‘alternative protein’ or ‘smart protein’ sector, The Good Food Institute India (GFI India) launches India’s first student-led body championing alt protein with the Delhi University chapter, marking the first chapter from India to join the global Alt Protein Project. The smart protein sector is at the forefront of global food innovation, with companies making alt protein foods - plant-based meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood, for example - that taste the same or better and cost the same or less than their animal-derived counterparts, with vastly lower impacts on planetary and public health.
Since its inception in 2020, the Alt Protein Project has worked to center students in food systems conversations across the globe and has expanded to a total of 36 chapters across 17 countries and 5 continents, with chapters at Stanford, NYU, Duke, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, Tufts, Berkeley, Cornell, Oxford, Cambridge, KU Leuven, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Wageningen University, Technische Universität Berlin, Tel Aviv University, The University of Nigeria Nsukka, the University of Melbourne, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technical University, and others. Now, the Delhi University chapter joins these prestigious ranks.
Visionary students from Delhi University - Armaan Dhanda, Palak Khanna, Samarth Bhatnagar, and Kartik Chauhan - have assumed leadership positions for the city-wide DSPP and are co-organizers of the project, with leadership support and guidance from GFI India. While the Delhi Smart Protein Project has established by students of the University of Delhi (DU), the project aims to branch out into a secretariat format involving institutes of prominence in and around Delhi such as the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi) and the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM). Situated in India’s capital, the DSPP has access to the best resources and talent required for smart protein. Its close proximity to institutes such as the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IIT, and National Law University, Delhi will support building a robust alt protein ecosystem in the national capital.
Introducing the project, Devika Suresh, innovation associate, GFI India, said, “Indian talent powers the global smart protein sector just as it does other strategically important industries, and we’re delighted to continue seeding the talent and research landscape through the Delhi Smart Protein Project. These student leaders will strengthen the ecosystem of education, incubation, and technology transfer in smart protein, and be propelled forward as the drivers of a more secure, sustainable, and just future of food.”
While felicitating the student organizers of the project, Chindi Vasudevappa, director-VC, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM), added, “Plant-based is the future we’re headed towards, and I’m delighted to see Delhi University students taking charge and innovating in this arena.”
The DSPP aims to advance initiatives under the following four-point goals:
Build a dedicated talent pipeline for the smart protein space by pushing for coursework at universities
Promote scientific research in critical whitespace areas and build infrastructure capacity for this at university ecosystems
Facilitate industry-academia collaboration leading to increased tech transfer, commercialization, and venture creation
Grow an active community of student leaders to raise awareness and generate discourse around smart protein
The DSPP is currently advancing its strategic planning for 2023, with a focus on expanding to other priority universities in Delhi-NCR, developing a curriculum for the world’s first ‘Smart Protein Digital Lab’ (GFI India’s curated Massive Open Online Course for smart protein, developed for the India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge), introducing smart protein as a concept to schools across the national capital, piloting a global alternative seafood course by working with other global Alt Protein Project chapters, and organizing in-person events convening industry, academia, and government by hosting dedicated smart protein events at college fests and a parliamentarian dinner to advance policy support for the smart protein sector.