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Isabelle DECITRE, Founder at ID Capital: The FFA conference endeavors to offer visibility to outstanding startup teams while fostering open dialogues on key

World 13.03.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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We spoke with Isabelle DECITRE, who thoroughly covered the topic of future products and the Future Food Asia 2024 conference
Isabelle DECITRE, Founder at ID Capital: The FFA conference endeavors to offer visibility to outstanding startup teams while fostering open dialogues on key
Сould you please tell us how you see yourself in today's rapidly evolving market of food products and innovations for them? What is your mission?

We see ourselves as private venture investors who also catalyze change within the food and agriculture technology innovation sphere. Thus far, we've invested in 13 agrifoodtech startups and assisted larger investors and corporations deploying venture capital wisely. Our viewpoint emphasizes the pivotal role of technology in this sector, facilitating transformative innovations capable of reshaping the value chain and margin dynamics of what is traditionally a low-margin industry.

We are a mission-driven organization. Our food system has reached a critical juncture where the methods we've employed to produce food and address hunger have negatively impacted the environment and led to the triple challenge of malnutrition. Change is imperative, for which we need to recognize the intricate nature of supply chains and the innovative contributions of industry professionals. How can we incentivize diverse investors to view this asset class as a worthwhile investment? Science and technology are part of the answers.

In your opinion, which regions of the world are currently leading in terms of modern technologies for food products?

Europe has the best food technologies, the USA has a unique combination of good technologies and a large addressable market, and Asia-Pacific is where high stakes meet high growth but overall they had a late start in leveraging the importance of technology disruption.

Europe boasts superior food technologies but does not enjoy much growth, while the USA possesses a distinctive blend of advanced technologies and a vast market. In contrast, Asia-Pacific, a region characterized by the convergence of high stakes and rapid growth, had shown a delayed adoption of technology disruption. This is why we launched Future Food Asia, back in 2017, realizing that the region needs to generate, recognize and rewards its home-grown talents in this space as well. Since that time, we've observed significant acceleration in the Asia-Pacific region, with considerable progress towards reaching the levels of innovation seen in American and European counterparts, if not in sheer quantity, then certainly in terms of quality.

What are your thoughts on innovations such as precision fermentation and 3D printing for the food and beverage sector?

We have a strong stance on precision fermentation, which we've long regarded as the "middle child" within the alternative ingredient sector. Nestled between plant-based meat alternatives and the more futuristic cultivated meat, precision fermentation has already quietly emerged as a viable option, particularly for high-value ingredients like sweeteners, HMOs, and flavors.

Asia is destined to assume a pivotal position in this growing industry, thanks to its distinctive blend of expertise in biotechnology, robust engineering capabilities that are often neglected but can significantly impact the economic viability of projects, and the close proximity of markets for such products.

It is not without geopolitical implications. Last year, the administration of Joe Biden initiated a national biotechnology and biomanufacturing program through an executive order titled "Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy." Meanwhile, China under President Xi has been assembling a noteworthy array of skills and resources to bolster their food sovereignty, underscoring the geopolitical implications at play.

We have been privileged to collaborate closely with A*STAR since the inception of Future Food Asia. A*STAR, Singapore's premier research institute, has established SIFBI (Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation), an institute with remarkable research capabilities. Their expertise holds the key to unlocking substantial value in this field and related areas such as nutrition.

Although precision fermentation is currently unable to offer every possible commoditized food ingredient at competitive prices, the technology excels in producing targeted functional ingredients. In the future, it has the potential to provide price stability and a steady supply for commodities like milk ingredients, which are susceptible to market fluctuations.

20 years ago, 3D printing emerged as a remarkable technology for creating intricate food designs, yet its impact has remained relatively anecdotal so far within the broader context of the systemic issues plaguing our food systems. But recent advancements have showcased the remarkable capabilities of 3D bioprinting in offering highly customizable food textures and the incorporation of essential additives. This has the potential to renew the texture and physical characteristics of some food items. Direct applications of this technology are expected to soon enter the market, particularly catering to individuals with dysphagia, where a softer food consistency could offer a solution. This development holds significant promise, especially considering the aging population not only in Asia but also worldwide.

Can you be considered a business angel for the products of the future?

We are a team of nine skilled individuals dedicated to investing in and supporting both investors and corporations in the agrifoodtech sector. Our expertise, and distinctive understanding of Asia-Pacific, extends beyond that of typical business angels 

Could you please elaborate on the role of the Future Food Asia 2024 event?

The FFA24 conference is coming back for its 8th edition. It marks the apex of a 5-month activation phase during which our team travelled across various APAC countries to engage with innovators and identify top-notch startups vying for the Future Food Asia Awards. Alongside the coveted USD 100,000 Grand Prize, Cargill, our esteemed returning Title Sponsor, will be presenting an additional accolade for the "Nutrition of Tomorrow" to the most outstanding startup this year.

The FFA conference endeavors to offer visibility to outstanding startup teams while fostering open dialogues on key, occasionally controversial subjects like the future of lab-grown meat, shifts in venture capital landscapes impacting cash-strapped startups, and the dangers of carbon tunnel vision. The format of these discussions vary, ranging from spirited debates among equally credible voices holding differing perspectives to informative sessions and invitation-only roundtables.

It’s a component of our catalytic role within the regional agrifoodtech ecosystem.

Do you think representatives from countries outside of Asia would find visiting the exhibition interesting?

Absolutely, and previous editions demonstrate that attendees from beyond Asia were both impressed and delighted to attend.
Impressed because Asia-Pacific is a vast and intricate region. This bias towards disregarding what isn't easily accessible due to distance or language barriers is significant. But savvy investors and corporates understand the necessity of staying informed about developments in countries such as India, China, Korea, Japan, and others, in our interconnected and global world. These can be your best partners of tomorrow, or your best competitors!

Furthermore, since agrifoodtech had a head start in the US and Europe, several late-stage startups stand to gain from participating in FFA24. It provides them with the most time-efficient opportunity to connect with key stakeholders from the broader region. FFA24 is a platform tailored for those with a focus on business, and it has played a direct role in supporting the funding rounds of over 70 startups and VC funds to date.

Thank you!
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