ALT-SEAFOOD STARTUPS AIM FOR $15M MEGA PRIZE FUND

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X-Prize, which aims to promote alternative proteins to help feed the world’s growing population, has announced that eight alt-seafood producers that have reached its semi-finals.

The entries are among a total of 28 semi-finalists in with a chance of winning X-Prize’s $15 million (€12.69 million) Feed the Next Billion competition.

A Canadian cell-based entry called Another Fish and a New Zealand initiative named SeaSpire are among the list of semifinalists that will develop their alt-seafood entries over coming year or so.

Near the end of 2022, the tally of 28 semifinalists will be whittled down to about 10, each of which will be aiming for the $7 million (€5.92 million) grand prize, with smaller awards for second and third places.

The aim is to produce “multiple consistent cuts” of alternative fish fillet or chicken breast that “replicate the sensory properties, structure, versatility and nutritional profile” of their conventional equivalent.

The environmental footprint of each alt-seafood or alt-chicken should be lower than that of the whole-animal-derived food. There is a bonus prize for developing growth media at the lowest cost.

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group indicated that if alternative proteins get closer to their conventional equivalents, consumer take-up will accelerate.

Currently, they make up about 2% of the total protein market, but by 2035 the figure could be 11% or even double this if technology advances rapidly and the regulatory environment is positive.

In a statement, Carolina Kolta, programme lead for Feed the Next Billion, said the wide-scale adoption of alternative proteins, including alt-seafood, would require “additional innovation continuously being brought to market”.

“I am thrilled about the international cohort of semifinalists selected to embark on this journey of innovation and exploration to shape a future of food, starting with chicken and fish,” she said.

Feed the Next Billion is one of a number of competitions X-Prize is running, with others covering, for example, methods to reskill workers for the digital age and to improve understanding of rainforests.

Another contest covers ways to create an avatar to transport human presence to a remote location, while the Carbon Removal contest is about combating climate change, with a $100 million (€84.62 million) prize fund.

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