A newly formed nonprofit called the Association of Alternative Food Producers (AAFP) has joined forces with food awareness organization ProVeg to launch Russia’s first-ever incubator program dedicated to animal-free protein. The program will support a range of startups in the alt-meat arena, from those working on cultured and plant-based products to those developing related technologies, such as scaffolds and 3D bioprinting.
AAFP was founded by Tim Ponomarev and Julia Marsel, two graduates of Berlin-based ProVeg’s incubator and the founders of plant-based meat company Greenwise (not to be confused with the Publix-owned organic brand of the same name). Their goal is to contribute to the growth of alternative proteins in Russia and Russian-speaking countries through supporting food companies and entrepreneurs.
Those accepted to AAFP’s program, which is based in Moscow and the Kaluga region, will participate in four different modules. Modules will provide guidance in marketing, fundraising, legal and regulatory matters, technological areas, and business development, among others. Participants receive mentorship and other consultations, the chance to take part in special events and conferences, access to buyers, materials suppliers, and other professionals, and the chance to pitch to potential investors.
Applicants should either be based in the Russian and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) market or have plans to concentrate their activities to that region. Excepting companies developing cell-based meat, applicants should already have a product or products being sold in the market.
A food tech accelerator in Russia that’s devoted to animal-free meat is a major milestone for alt-protein’s growth in the country. Currently, only about 1 percent of all Russians say they are vegetarian, and that not eating meat is still considered by many to be dangerous. Attitudes, however, are changing, and while the market for alt-protein is still very young, it is growing.
The AAFP incubator will open in 2021 (an exact date has not yet been provided). Those interested in joining can apply here.