The funding round was led by Heritas Capital Management and co-led by SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore. The exact amount acquired was not disclosed.
“The funding will fuel the company’s next stage of technology and product development, talent acquisition, and manufacturing capabilities,” said Alchemy FoodTech in its official press release.
Alchemy’s keynote invention, 5ibrePlus™, is an additive comprising glycemic lowering technology which is designed to ‘lower the GI of traditionally high GI refined carbohydrates, such as white rice, bread and noodles, without changing the taste, texture and colour of the food.’
It can be applied to refined white rice, white bread and buns, as well as noodles and pasta. Using this product will reduce the glycaemic index of these foods from high to medium or low.
This is especially pertinent when it comes to battling diabetes, which is essentially caused by the body’s inability to process glucose, leading to high blood glucose levels.
According to the World Health Organsation 2016 Global Report on Diabetes, 43% of all deaths due to high blood glucose occur prematurely (before 70 years of age) – an estimated 1.6 million deaths worldwide.
Furthermore, it reported that Asians are genetically more predisposed to getting diabetes, with South East Asian populations developing diabetes at lower BMIs than European ones, for example.
The report also states that the prevalence of diabetes in Southeast Asia is amongst the highest in the world at 8.6%, or 96 million people.
“Our mission is to fight diabetes with food innovation, and yet without changing lifestyle habits so as to achieve the greatest compliance and adoption,” said Alan Phua, Alchemy FoodTech CEO.
“This round of investment allows us to work with partnering food manufacturers to customise solutions for them, and conduct pilot commercial trials with them. Several food manufacturers who care for their customers have already expressed strong interest and we have commenced application projects.”
Heritas Capital Management CEO Chik Wai Chiew added: "Heritas invests in promising ventures across the healthcare space […] tackling the huge challenges facing Asian populations.”
"We believe healthier diet is a key component [to wellness], and the Alchemy team has what it takes to make existing Asian staples better for health without having to modify taste preferences."
Singapore’s War on Diabetes
Alchemy’s inception in Singapore is in line with the Singapore government’s recent efforts to battle rising diabetes rates in the country.
According to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the problem is a severe one, with one in nine Singaporeans suffering from the disease.
440,000 Singaporeans had diabetes in 2014, with this number expected to reach one million by 2050. Diabetes makes up 10% of Singapore’s disease burden.
“In recent years, the Singapore government has declared a War On Diabetes, with one in nine Singaporeans having diabetes,” said Alchemy.
As part of this battle, various initiatives to reduce sugar intake are already in place in the country.
Amongst these, the Whole-Of-Government Healthier Drinks Policy dictates that all drinks sold or provided at government premises must contain lower or no sugar.
Meanwhile, the Healthier Choice Symbol Programme targets manufacturers, involving voluntary front-of-pack labelling. Manufacturers must comply with sugar content criteria before applying for eligibility to carry the Healthier Choice symbol on their products.