Unovis Asset Management Closes Second Alt Protein Venture Fund Oversubscribed at $164M
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media
Global boutique investor Unovis Asset Management is quickly becoming a leader in the alt protein investment space. Its first fund, New Crop Capital Trust, which was launched in 2015, deployed $45 million across 41 early-stage plant-based, fermented, and cultured protein companies on four continents.
Its second fund, NCAP Fund II, set a funding target of €75 (US$84.2 million), but has blown past this goal and outpacing its first fund by three and a half times, closing significantly oversubscribed at €146 million (US$164 million).
Investors committing this capital include institutional investors, impact funds, and others hailing from Europe, the Middle East, North America, Asia, and South America, including Invest-NL, Unigestion, Credit Suisse, Fuji Oil, Griffith Foods, and more.
Global protein consumption is expected to climb at a CAGR of 1.7 percent, reaching 943 million tons by 2054, according to Lux Research. Over this same time period, alternative protein sources are forecast to command up to a third of the protein market as consumers push back against the environmental effects and animal welfare concerns connected with animal protein production.
Furthermore, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) determined that most human diseases originate in animals and most antibiotics used in the world are administered to animals. Within this scenario, our reliance on animals for food has left humans ever more susceptible to zoonotic diseases.
In his article The Rise of Alternative Proteins, published by GAI News in June 2021, Adam Bergman observed, “I believe that alternative proteins (cellular-based, plant-based, and even bug-based) will continue gaining customers this decade, and sales will even accelerate in the 2030s as companies hone their products’ taste, texture, and costs. This is because, despite all the advantages of incumbency, it is becoming clearer each day that the animal protein industry is on the brink of going the way of other once thriving industries, including horses for transportation, pigeons for communications, and whales for oil.”
Dan Altschuler Malek, managing partner, North America and Israel, Unovis, echoed this position by noting in a company statement announcing the close of NCAP Fund II, "The simple fact is, animal agriculture is not only antiquated and unsustainable, it is inefficient, insufficient for the protein needs of a growing population and harmful to the planet. We need large-scale disruption and are excited to support the innovative entrepreneurs and companies working to solve these fundamental, global problems."
Some of the innovative entrepreneurs and companies being backed by Unovis include Nobell, a startup using molecular farming to develop alternative craft cheeses that look, feel, and taste like animal-based products; The Protein Brewery, a company leveraging precision fermentation to produce alternative protein ingredients; Wicked Foods, a producer of ready-made and fresh vegan packaged foods that are distributed on a global scale; Matrix Meats, a developer of the scaffolding needed for the production of animal-free cultured meat products; and Israel-based Zero Egg, a producer of plant-based egg formulations with the same functionality of conventional chicken eggs.
"Whether humans avert catastrophic climate change or not, there is life today - animals, forests, oceans, people - that needs protection,” said Kim Odhner, managing partner, Europe and Asia, Unovis. “More than ever, it is up to individuals, innovative companies, visionary investors, and policymakers to drive that change. We understand that addressing the interwoven injustices of the global food system can help facilitate meaningful action, and we're proud to be supporting innovation in alternative protein as a way to move that needle forward."
Looking to the future, Unovis Managing Partner and Portfolio Manager Mark Langley stated that the firm remains enthusiastically committed to the alt protein industry. And given the extremely positive response by the fund’s investors, it would seem that Unovis is not alone.
"It has been a great privilege to work these past years with all of the entrepreneurs, investors, strategic partners and others in our orbit who are committed to the transformative potential of alternative proteins,” said Langley. “We're incredibly optimistic about the future of this industry and remain dedicated to supporting this important work in 2022 and beyond."