Temasek-backed Big Idea Ventures to close first global fund in early 2020

Brussel sprouts. Photo: Keenan Loo

Big Idea Ventures, a New York and Singapore-based venture capital firm that invests in plant-based food, alternative protein and associated foodtech startups, is seeking to close its first global fund in early 2020.

According to Big Idea Ventures founder and general partner Andrew Ive, there is a lot of interested capital in the market, which makes the firm confident of a final close between $50 million and $75 million for the fund. The corpus will allow the VC firm to invest in over 100 seed-stage plant and cell-based startups.

Ive added that the fund has already secured about 50 per cent of its corpus from a range of investors. Its limited partners (LPs) include Temasek Holdings, Tyson Foods, Enterprise Singapore, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, two Asian high net worth families closely linked to the food sector, and one high net worth individual (HNWI) from England advocating animal welfare.

The VC firm is actively courting investors from Asia, North America and the Middle East who are interested in food innovation and climate change.

Big Idea Ventures also runs two startup accelerators, one in New York and another in Singapore, which it launched earlier this year.

Ive shared that the pipeline of startups for its Asian accelerator in Singapore was stronger than expected with 60 companies signing up to participate in the programme.

Seven startups were eventually shortlisted. These include Gourmey (cell-based foie gras), Lvl Life (plant-based wellness drinks), Confetti Fine Foods (Asian inspired vegetable snacks), Eat Karana (plant-based alternative meat), Phuture Foods (plant-based pork) and Black Sheep (plant-based lamb).

Big Idea Ventures is also an early-investor in cell-based shrimp startup Shiok Meats in Singapore.

Startups selected for its accelerator go through a five-month programme with over 800 hours of mentorship in areas such as product, packaging, financing and go-to-market strategy. Eligible startups will receive seed investments of $250,000 in exchange for 7 per cent equity.

Upon graduation, the top performing startups may receive follow-on investments of $750,000 to $5 million depending on team performance, product traction and ability to raise external funding.

Singapore has been trying to position itself as the Asia Pacific’s agritech and innovation hub. Over the last year, government-linked investors such as Temasek Holdings and Enterprise Singapore have begun investing heavily in the sector.

Temasek, for instance, has invested in well-known alternative meat brands such as Impossible Foods, JUST and Quorn. In January, SEEDS Capital, Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, committed over $66.6 million of capital to agri-food and tech startups in Singapore.

The Southeast Asian city-state is also beginning to see a small but rising number of funds targeting the agri-food scene.

These include VCs like VisVires New Protein, which closed a $40 million fund focused on the global food and feed system last year. Another is Israel’s Trendlines Group, which plans to set aside about a third of its $40 million agrifood fund to back early-stage startups in Singapore.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.