Ahead of her speaking role at Future Food-Tech, San Francisco, we spoke to Rosie Wardle, Investment Associate at CPT Capital about what investors look for when investing in start-ups and the most exciting innovations in the food-tech industry.
Can you tell us more about CPT Capital’s focus and what you look for in a food-tech start-up?
CPT Capital invests in companies enabling a sustainable food system, and specifically alternative proteins. We’re one of the longest-standing dedicated investors in this space, and this focus is driven by our thesis that alternatives to animal protein are critical in order to feed the growing global population within planetary boundaries. We will consider for investment any start-up with a product or platform in this space, however three main categories we focus on are plant-based proteins, recombinant proteins, and cell culture, and we also invest in enabling technologies with potential applicability across these (3D printing, for example). Ultimately, across these categories, we look for companies and ideas with true potential revolutionise the way we produce protein.
What has been the most exciting or surprising investment so far in 2019? What innovations within food-tech are you most excited about?
2019 has been a huge year for food-tech! Fortunately, there have been many exciting and surprising investments coming our way. One I’d specifically call out is an Israel-based 3D printing company called Redefine Meat. Redefine are using proprietary 3D meat modelling, food formulations, and food printing technology to produce animal-free meat with the same appearance, texture and flavour of traditional meat. With the team’s impressive experience in digital printing, we see the company and their technology as a platform to develop and scale the next generation of meat alternatives. In my view, we will start to see an increasing number of companies looking at platform technologies with the potential to enable new products across the space. That’s exciting to me, as we need advancements in critical areas such as structuring and scaffolding for the alternative proteins to really hit the mainstream and to be able to look at more complex, whole muscle products such as steak and chicken breasts.
What advice would you give to a start-up when seeking investment and looking for new partners?
Food-tech is becoming an increasingly high profile sector – but there is still so much white space, and in our view we’re only at the foothills of a significant shift in how we produce our protein and this means there is a very long way to go. For both of these reasons, it is critical for a start-up to find the right investor for their growth as a business, rather than taking the first or easiest money on the table. We have seen a surge of investment interest, but a start-up needs a value-add investor partner who will be able to provide them with the support they need over the long-term, outside of purely financial backing. In addition to picking the right investor partner, given the growing number of players in the space (both new start-ups and also established industry incumbents entering the market with their own products), differentiation and protectability of product and core technology are also key.
What will you be looking out for at Future Food-Tech San Francisco?
I’ll be looking out for passionate, dynamic founders with new approaches to solving the pain-points of our broken food system. I’m also looking forward to sharing ideas and insights with the delegates – it’s always a great group of leaders and innovators at the Future Food-Tech conferences!
Rosie will be a shark panellist at the Technology Showcase: Early-Mid Stage Technology Entrepreneurs Present 7 Minute Snapshots of their Solutions on Day 2 of Future Food-Tech, San Francisco.