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Thailand pushing smart food technology

A Bangkok-based food-tech incubator and accelerator program, SPACE-F, announced that it is now looking for emerging start-ups in the Southeast Asia region who are developing sustainable and tech-forward food solutions.

The aim is to help entrepreneurs scale-up their products and connect them to potential investors with an overarching goal of bolstering the region’s food security – a concern that has only become more pressing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

SPACE-F is now calling for food tech entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia to apply for its 2020 batch of companies to join its two new tracks – its Incubator program, which targets early-stage start-ups that are based in Thailand, and its Accelerator program for global growth-stage start-ups ready to scale-up for the Asian market.

The emerging companies that both programs are targeting include those working on alternative proteins, smart manufacturing, eco-packaging solutions, novel ingredients, biomaterials, restaurant tech, food safety and health and wellness innovations.

The incubator was founded in 2019, established through a partnership between the Thai Union, National Innovation Agency of Thailand and Mahidol University, and is the first-ever food tech innovation program in Thailand.

Start-ups joining SPACE-F’s 2020 batch will benefit from mentorship and support from Thailand’s largest beverage corporation, a regional agribusiness giant and a “big four” consulting multinational.

The platform says that this will provide start-ups with corporate expertise into different aspects of the food industry supply chain.

Each startup will receive a US$4,750 to US$12,600 grant over the course of the program, and can additionally apply for startup funding from SPACE-F’s corporate venture capital fund, which finances up to US$15,800 to help businesses kick off in Thailand.

Entrepreneurs will also gain access to other funding opportunities through both programs, putting them in touch with its network of venture capital firms and potential corporate partners.

For international companies whose goal is to enter the Southeast Asian market, the accelerator will provide an easy stepping-stone – SPACE-F will support accepted applicants’ applications for a special startup SMART visa and business registration in the country.

Applications to both of SPACE-F’s programs will be open until 12 July. The early-stage Incubator is slated to begin from October and run until July, while the Accelerator will operate from October to February next year.

In June 2020, a Berlin-based incubator announced the 10 food techs accepted into their 2020 batch, including one plant-based startup from India.

Food tech innovation has attracted greater interest and momentum in recent months, as more become conscious of the health, safety and sustainability problems of the current global food system.

While attention has been steadily growing in the past years due to climate awareness, coronavirus has further exposed the vulnerability of our food supply chain, especially our dependence on animal proteins.

The Head of Innovation at a venture capital firm, which backs the incubator and accelerator, stated that with the impact of Covid-19 on food security in the region, the importance of the food tech sector has only increased – the firm is therefore excited to support SPACE-F in building the next generation of food leaders.

Established industry players have seen the growing trend and are hoping to be able to link up with emerging start-ups that are developing much-needed solutions. Two weeks ago, a food-tech venture capital firm Bits x Bites launched a new platform precisely aimed at connecting food giants with smaller food tech companies.

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