The Good Food Institute (GFI India), the central expert organization, thought leader and convening body of the smart protein sector in India, launched the 3rd edition of its flagship initiative - The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge (ISPIC). It is now inviting applications from startups, entrepreneurs, and students who are geared towards solving problems related to transforming food systems for enhanced food security by promoting the global and Indian protein transition to alternative proteins.
ISPIC was first launched in 2020 as a first-of-its-kind alternative protein challenge that has since gone on to inspire similar competitions worldwide. The aim of ISPIC is capacity building for researchers and early-stage entrepreneurs to fill the talent and innovation gaps in the sector. ISPIC 2023 is being conducted in partnership with Spectrum Impact, a family office committed to solving large-scale societal problems with novel solutions. This year's challenge is focused on ideation and innovation in whitespaces across the value chain of plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-derived proteins.
“Novel food solutions are at the forefront of solving some of the most pressing issues of our generation and as an institution committed to climate positive action, we are excited to be partnering with the Good Food Institute India. At Spectrum Impact, we back initiatives that promote job creation and entrepreneurship and collaborating on this challenge supports that cause,” says Mirik Gogri from Spectrum Impact.
Speaking about the launch, Devika Suresh, innovation specialist, GFI India and an alumnus of the challenge, says, "We are excited to launch the 3rd iteration of the India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge and continue supporting the growth of the alternative protein ecosystem in India. With each passing year, we see more talented innovators bringing their unique perspectives and solutions to the table, and we look forward to the impactful ideas that will emerge from this year's cohort as well. Through this challenge, we plan to connect like-minded peers — students, researchers, and entrepreneurs who will help solve challenges in meeting the rising demand for protein in India.”
The Challenge this year is split into two tracks - Smart Up and Start-Up (i.e. Career and Venture Building). The Smart Up track will focus on developing innovative theoretical solutions through capstone projects focused on industry whitespaces that are suited for students and researchers. The Start Up track will focus on scaling smart protein ventures by hand-holding them through real-time challenges across product development, fundraising, distribution etc.
After a six month journey, the finalist teams from both tracks will get a chance to showcase their ideas to an impressive panel of investors and industry experts in a Smart Protein Demo Day and win cash prizes worth 1 lakh each. The challenge is open to solutions that address a wide range of challenge statements in the industry, including improving the taste, texture, and nutritional profiles of plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cell-based meat, dairy, and egg alternatives through business, sci-tech, and policy interventions.
ISPIC 2023 is also supported by BRINC — a venture accelerator firm that will support participants with access to training resources and an extensive network of startup and business mentors from around the world. ISPIC 2023 also boasts of several academic partners like The University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology (TDU), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship (NIFTEM), Central Institute of Fisheries Education (ICAR-CIFE), the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), among others.
Expressing his support for ISPIC 2023, Karan Keswani, managing director, Brinc India says, "In the rapidly growing alternate protein industry, the success of talent development and venture creation is crucial to drive innovation, disrupt traditional industries, and ultimately, create a more sustainable and healthier food system for all. As an accelerator for early-stage startups in this space, we understand the importance of empowering and supporting entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, build strong teams, and bring their products to market. Partnering with the Good Food Institute India (GFI) provides a wide range of benefits for early-stage alternative protein startups. With their expertise in the field, global network, and advocacy efforts, GFI India serves as an invaluable partner for talent development and venture creation in the alternative protein industry. By partnering with them, we aim to contribute to creating a more sustainable and healthier food system for all."
“At Ahimsa VC, we believe in cultivating an all-encompassing alternative protein ecosystem. Seeding excitement in founders-in-the-wings and highlighting white spaces are key parts of it. GFI India’s Challenge hits home on these fronts and we are proud to support it.” says Jinesh Shah, Chief Investment Officer at Ahimsa VC who is a key mentor for the challenge this year.
More information about this year’s challenge and the full program benefits are available on ISPIC’s official website. Applications are open until May 24, 2023.