Together with A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) and Agrifood Innovation Centre (AFIC), Nurasa has launched the Food Tech Start-Up Challenge.
The inaugural challenge is currently inviting pitches from start-ups across the globe in two areas, namely 1) the optimisation of alternative proteins, functional foods and 2) the creation of novel product formats in the alternative protein or functional foods space.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Jolene Lum, client development manager, said that there has been an increasing demand for alternative proteins or functional foods for specific groups of consumers. Examples include protein-dense sports nutrition for athletes and products that support active ageing.
“In Singapore, we have been talking about the ageing population for a long time and we are starting to see an increasing demand for diets that can encourage active ageing and also cater to the elderly population."
Despite a growing demand, Lum pointed out that the amount of innovation and food products supporting active ageing has been limited.
“The industry focuses a lot on funding raised for companies developing new kinds of technologies, but we are focusing more on how we can optimise the products for the consumers to come back for repeat purchases, as well as identifying the key concerns that consumers have.”
A way to cater to the nutritional needs of seniors is by designing the ‘silver diet’.
'Silver diet' refers to foods that are modified in taste, texture, nutrition, and ease of preparation to better cater to the specific needs of older adults aged 65 and above.
For example, the diet would take into consideration the physiological changes of seniors as they age, such as the occurrence of osteoporosis and the loss of muscle mobility.
“The goal is to think of how we can address some of these generic problems and start optimising the seniors' quality of life by giving them food that they enjoy, and at the same time, mitigate some of these health conditions."
Nurasa is a wholly owned company of Temasek.
Through the Challenge, Nurasa also hopes to drive sustainable food production. This means innovations that can create nutritious, value-adding foods while reducing carbon footprint at the same time.
“Being able to create more nutritional density from a lower amount of input is always going to be a good outcome, and this is why there are a lot of companies coming in to say that they can reduce their carbon footprint and produce much more nutrition at the same time.
“This goes back to the conversation around sustainability and what we define as sustainable,” said Lum.
Deadline for applications extended
The deadline for participating in the Challenge has been extended from January 27 to February 11.
Selected finalists will be invited to proceed to the “Bench-Scale Make” or product development phase and are expected to have their first prototypes ready for tasting during the final Pitch and Tasting Day in June.
The final winners of the Challenge will be awarded, among other prizes and incentives, early access to cutting-edge technologies and tools at Nurasa’s Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC).
There are also opportunities to work closely with industry leaders to scale up the development of novel, animal-free food products to the pre-commercialisation stage.
Construction works on the FTIC started in May last year. The 3,840 sqm centre is expected to be ready for its grand opening in June.
Prior to launching the Challenge, Nurasa already has two start-ups in its portfolio. They are Next Gen Foods, a food tech firm specialising in plant-based products and the creator of TiNDLE Chicken, and plant-nutrition food tech firm Growthwell Foods founded in 2019.