Singapore agtech is about to get an investment shot in arm, one that could give the whole world a clearer vision of alternative farming’s role in our future food system. Enterprise Singapore, the government agency committed to startups, said last week it will invest roughly $40 million USD into agtech and aquaculture companies, according to AgFunder News.
Koh Poh Koon, Singapore’s senior minister for trade and industry, said during the announcement that “Using agritech can help to make [Singapore’s] food supplies more resilient by building a bigger margin of local food capacity.”
Sinapore relies on imports for about 90 percent of its food. As the pandemic has shown us, that reliance on external sources can be problematic if the supply chain gets disrupted. The city-state already has one initiative in place to address this, the “30 by 30” program, which aims to have 30 percent of Singapore’s food produced domestically by 2030.
The newly announced funding will go towards agtech and aquaculture startups that apply through the Singapore government’s Business Grants Portal.
Singapore has become something of a hotbed in the last couple years for food tech, especially when it comes to alternative proteins and alternative farming methods. Last year, the city-state’s National Research Foundation allocated $535 million (USD) to increase R&D efforts in cell therapy manufacturing, digital technology, and sustainable urban food production. Food-focused accelerators like GROW’s Singapore Food Bowl program are also emerging as a resource for startups. Meanwhile, individual companies are also developing ways to make Singaporean food more local, from SinGrow’s proprietary strawberries, to Turtle Tree Labs’ cultured human breastmilk.
Those uses of alternative farming and food production could be a clue for the rest of the world about how technologies like high-tech farming systems, post-harvest technology, and raising alternative protein sources fit into the broader picture of the future food system. Many of these technologies are nascent and have yet to prove themselves economically scalable. If Singapore can use them to meet its “30 by 30” goal and beyond, it could provide a blueprint for the rest of the world as the population increases and demand for local food production grows.