Nonprofit XPRIZE has announced 28 semifinalists teams that will move forward in the Feed the Next Billion competition. The multi-year competition will support companies developing compelling chicken and fish alternatives that replicate or outperform the real thing in terms of nutrition, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and taste and texture.
The competition, first announced at the end of 2020, is being conducted in partnership with ASPIRE, the project management arm of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC). Grand-prize winners will not be chosen until 2024. when multiple winners will collectively receive $15 million.
For now, the 28 finalists chosen to continue the competition will have the next year to work with the competition, ASPIRE, and The Tony Robbins Foundation to develop the first iterations of their products. Up to 10 finalist teams will be chosen towards the end of 2022 and will split a “milestone award” of $2.5 million.
Those 10 finalists will have one last round of competition where they will need to create “at least twenty-five cuts of structured chicken breast or fish fillet analogs of 115 gram or four ounce that replicate the sensory properties, versatility, and nutritional profile of conventional chicken or fish.” One grand prize winner will receive $7 million, with second- and third-place winners getting $2 million and $1 million, respectively.
The 28 finalists chosen this week represent all three pillars of alternative protein: plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation. Some of these companies are better known than others. Eat Just’s GOOD Meat, for example, is the only company in the world that has regulatory approval to sell cultivated meat (in Singapore). MeatOurFuture, on the other hand, is a public-private partnership that is known primarily in South Africa at this point. Others, including plant-based seafood company Brew51 from India, Japan’s IntegriCulture, and Air Protein, are all at various stages of development in terms of their products.
You can read the full list of companies, which span 14 different countries, here.
XPRIZE’s Feed the Next Billion competition was developed in response to the organization’s Future of Food Impact Roadmap, where the organization pinpointed 12 “breakthrough opportunities” that could help build a better food system. Alt-protein is a major area.
No one company developing alternative proteins has yet proven their technology and/or ingredients can feed the next billion. There remain many, many questions around the nutrition of products, the cost of making them, and, for some, whether or not they can ever really be produced at that scale. XPRIZE’s competition will no doubt go some ways towards answering those questions over the next few years.