Posts Tagged ‘methane based proteins’

Capitalizing on the Growing Demand for Alternative Proteins

Alternative proteins are proving evermore propitious in the AgriTech and FoodTech sectors of Canadian industry as traditional meats lose favorability under the rising tensions brought on by climate change, population increase, and greater demand for healthy and sustainable living.

Meat poses a unique challenge to the future given the environmental limitations of land and water required to support livestock capable of feeding a global population approaching 10 billion, at which point the current North American dietary standard will no longer meet sustainable development goals. With inordinate greenhouse gas emissions and health concerns connected to excess meat consumption also to consider, there has been burgeoning investment to develop alternative plant-based proteins in Canada.

Despite substantial scientific progress in this area over the last decade, ever-increasing demand for plant-based food and beverages and meat-alternative solutions continuously strains the ability of Canadian companies to stay competitive. It is thus critical that a business leverage all possible avenues of funding to maximize their innovative potential and development capabilities when pursuing advancement in alternative protein technologies.

Innovation, Science and Technology

From the release of Canada’s 2019 dietary guideline promoting plant-based proteins to consumer interest in plant-based foods and beverages rising by 25% in Q1, there is real incentive to boost R&D efforts in areas such as clean meats, meat-alternative technologies, and non-dairy milk formulations. The work being done to formulate new plant-based products and design advanced manufacturing processes are key examples of where a company’s everyday business objectives can translate into funding opportunities.

Attempts to deliver simulated meat products to market using only plant ingredients while achieving comparable qualities in texture and taste to that of real meats should not go unrewarded. Methods, such as high-moisture extrusion (HME), to adjust substrate properties like fiber structure and density, whether through recipe design or alterations in temperatures and pressures, are riddled with uncertainty, and can thus often qualify for funding support.

Presenting itself as an even newer technique than HME is shear-cell technology, which claims to have a smaller carbon footprint while yielding higher quality analogues more closely resembling real meats. With synthetic meat products derived from this form of processing soon to reach our shelves, there are future funding guarantees as innovation works to keep up with excited consumer demand.

Development of brown algae and kelp culture techniques, such as the artificial induction of sporogenesis or gametophyte culturing in vitro, are other exemplary applications within the plant-based protein field where novelty is being wholly encouraged through a myriad of funding options.

Lab-based methods of developing self-reproducing animal cells of various proeins, strategized to reduce land and water utilization, and improving stem cell extraction and growth capabilities are other areas where experimentation presents a ripe opportunity for funding given the potential these areas have for improving meat consumption sustainability. Similarly, the engineering of methane-based proteins is another clear case of where innovation has the potential to accrue substantial backing in funds.

Additionally, innovation in the field of cellular agriculture serves to address food security and environmental concerns by providing a means of replacing traditional livestock with technologies capable of growing meat from living or once-living cells in the form of its own cell culture media. Acellular agriculture, too, is an area proving highly innovative as new and improved methodologies are being devised to efficiently grow and harvest products from cell cultures to produce alternative proteins and agricultural items such as milk and egg whites.

Insects are also becoming a growing trend for meat alternatives as manufacturers have started using crickets and mealworms raised at scale to make protein-rich flour. Not only does raising crickets produce 100x less greenhouse gas emissions relative to cattle production, but crickets also have a higher concentration of protein than either beef or chicken. Hence, any endeavors to create insect-based products with desirable organoleptic qualities will likely make a business a prime candidate for funding.       

Non-Dilutive Funding Options to Support AgriTech Innovation

When dealing in AgriTech innovation, Canadian companies have a variety of non-dilutive funding options, such as tax credits, SR&ED financing and grants/programs, to support project development across stages of growth from R&D to commercialization and export.

SR&ED Tax Credits and Financing: The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program provides one of the most lucrative sources of non-dilutive funding to Canadian companies, with an average of over $3 billion in funds allocated each year. However, one of the main challenges with the SR&ED program is that it can often take up to a year to receive the refund. Companies can gain advanced access for up to 80% of their estimated refund through SR&ED accrual debt financing to accelerate the rate of funding when there are cash flow issues or government returns are delayed. This is particularly beneficial for early-stage companies as it allows them to obtain an advance on funding up to six months before filing to bridge the funding gap.

Grants/Programs: There are numerous grants and programs offered like the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), the FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII), and the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) SME Project Stream. Take the CAIF for example, which focuses on SMEs operating in building, transportation, industry, waste, and agriculture sectors within Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick; if eligible, a company can receive a rebate covering up to 25% of project costs for a maximum of $250,000 to support reducing energy usage, costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The application intake period is open until October 15, 2019, or until funding is exhausted. The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and CanExport are other funding sources to help with commercialization and export, which can then be combined with SR&ED tax credits to maximize funding potential. With $950 million in funding awarded to five high tech superclusters, including Protein Industries Canada, yet another means of funding an AgriTech business is available. Focusing on enabling agri-food technologies, Protein Industries Canada investment will be matched 50:50 by the private sector with the aim of making Canada a leading source for plant proteins.

Learn more about the specific details of each of these non-dilutive funding options here.

Canada’s strong appetite for change is a funding dream for those dishing out the next round of alternative protein solutions. To learn more about funding your AgriTech business, please contact us for a free consultation.


Authored by Philip Finkelstein, Technical Writer at NorthBridge Consultants.

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