Vegconomist .com reported this week that Sophie’s Bionutrients, based in Singapore, is planning to relocate the business to the Netherlands to tap into its plant-based protein ecosystem.
Over the past year Sophie’s has introduced both burger patties made from microalgae and a microalgae-based milk alternative. However, “I came to realize,” said founder and CEO Eugene Wang, “that most potential customers, partners and talented future employees for Sophie’s Bionutrients are in fact situated in Europe, rather than Asia or the USA.”
The Netherlands is home to over 250 plant-based protein companies, and it is a European research hot spot for alternative proteins and microbial fermentation for food production. Sophie’s, founded in 2019 as a Food Tech company, uses microalgae and patent pending technologies to develop 100% plant-based & sustainable alternative proteins for the food industry.
“All I care about is the protein,” Mr. Wang said. “I don’t care about the lipid. I can then use fermentation to increase production efficiency a lot, lot more.”
Many of the companies Sophie’s plans to interact with are in the Netherlands’ Food Valley region, home to Wageningen University & Research. The campus has its own plant-based meat research lab and an algae production and research center — AlgaeParc. Industry leaders including Unilever, Upfield and Vivera Foodgroup have made major investments in plant-based innovation in the region. NIZO, a research center with the largest food-grade pilot plant in Europe, is also located in Food Valley.
Mr. Wang is currently in talks with some major European dairy firms, and the company is looking for partners to help scale up production. He also has applied for a place with the accelerator program at StartLife, the Wageningen-based agrifoodtech accelerator. “In all aspects, Food Valley is the plant-based industrial heart of Europe,” he says.
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