The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge (ISPIC), a flagship program by The Good Food Institute India (GFI India), has successfully concluded its 3rd edition. GFI India, being a leading authority and hub of expertise in the alternative protein sector, organized this transformative initiative spanning 5 months. The program empowered emerging ventures and student researchers, equipping them with profound insights into the smart protein domain. This knowledge positioned them to address urgent challenges, spur innovation, and instigate a significant change in food systems. In doing so, the program aligns with both global and Indian objectives to promote alternative proteins and enhance food security.
ISPIC 2023, in partnership with Spectrum Impact, comprised three robust phases of immersive education, networking, and various knowledge-enhancement elements. These encompassed over 15 comprehensive masterclasses, engaging panel discussions, and interactive “Ask Me Anything” sessions, all thoughtfully crafted in collaboration with key figures and mentors from the smart protein industry. Participants leveraged these invaluable resources to refine their concepts and develop innovative solutions for addressing the identified gaps in the smart protein sector.
The team at Fattastic Technologies, Winner, ISPIC 2023 said, “ISPIC has been a great platform for us to network with like-minded people. We also learned a lot about the alternative protein industry in the Indian context. The major takeaway for our company was the individual mentorship, and the support we got with product design, go-to-market strategy, co-application, and a paid pilot for product trials.”
Speaking about the culmination of the challenge, Sneha Singh, managing director (acting), GFI India said, “We are thrilled to witness the culmination of our 3rd ISPIC Challenge 2023 today in person for the very first time since the challenge was launched in 2020. The participants have exhibited an extraordinary level of innovation and dedication, underscoring their potential to lead the growth of the alternative protein sector in India. The solutions presented today showcase a collective acknowledgment that our challenges are unique, but so are our solutions. This recognition makes me even more confident in India’s ability to establish itself as a global Innovation hub for alternative protein.”
“I am truly impressed by the exceptional caliber of the participants at ISPIC 2023. Their in-depth knowledge and the quality of their presentations were nothing short of outstanding. It is clear that the future of smart protein is in exceptionally capable hands, and I have no doubt that these young innovators will continue to drive positive change in the industry, an area India as a country should invest early in,” said Dr. N. Madhusudhana Rao, chief executive officer, Atal Incubation Centre – Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology who was one of the judges.
The competition adopted a dual-track structure, known as “Smart Up” and “Start-Up,” each catering to different aspects of career and venture development. The “Smart Up” track emphasized the creation of inventive theoretical solutions through capstone projects, addressing industry-specific gaps. It was ideally suited for students and researchers. On the other hand, the “Start Up” track was tailored to assist in the expansion of smart protein ventures. This track offered practical guidance in navigating real-time challenges related to product development, fundraising, distribution, and other critical aspects of business growth.
During the Smart Protein Demo Day, top teams from both tracks had the valuable chance to showcase their innovative concepts. These presentations adopted a format reminiscent of the well-known “Shark Tank” competition, involving live pitches followed by a Q&A session with the judges. In acknowledgment of their outstanding contributions, three winners were selected from each track. Teams Progo Foods, Fattastic Technologies, and ProMyce secured significant cash prizes of 2 lakh each in the Start-Up track. Similarly, the Smart Up track celebrated the success of Alt Nutritos, OPZ Redients, and The Protein Gurus.
Established with the overarching goal of aligning with global climate objectives and responsibly nourishing the world’s growing population, ISPIC 2023 was a diverse and inclusive platform. It welcomed a broad range of solution strategies aimed at tackling various industry challenges, with a primary emphasis on improving the sensory qualities and nutritional content of plant-based, fermentation-derived, and lab-grown alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs. This initiative spanned multifaceted interventions encompassing aspects of business, science and technology, and policy development, emphasizing a holistic approach to advancing the evolving smart protein industry.