Report puts forward recommendations for Dutch alternative protein ecosystem

Foodvalley NL and Invest-NL have identified the challenges and made recommendations for developing a Dutch ecosystem for alternative proteins.

The report ‘Enhancing the ecosystem for alternative protein innovation: Strategies for scaling success’ highlights that limited
access to facilities, high operational costs, complex regulations, and funding shortages hinder scaling efforts.

With national collaboration, targeted infrastructure, and innovative financing models, the Netherlands can further strengthen its role as a leader in food innovation, the report suggests.

The report reveals that limited facility access, high operational costs, and complex regulations stand in the way of scaling up. With a national strategy, smart investments in shared facilities and innovative financing models, we can overcome these hurdles. Together, we can position the Netherlands as the leader in food innovation and sustainability.

The Dutch market for alternative proteins is on the brink of exponential growth, expected to exceed €10bn by 2030. Despite globally recognised expertise in agriculture and biotechnology, start-ups and scale-ups face obstacles in scaling up.

Accelerating the protein transition requires innovation, but start-ups and scale-ups in the alternative protein sector face various obstacles when scaling from lab to commercial production.

Current pilot and demonstration facilities do not meet the growing demand, and limited access to shared facilities leads to delays in market introduction. High operational costs, including expenses for equipment, personnel, and raw materials, present a significant financial burden for shared facilities. Navigating regulations for new food products further complicates the process for start-ups and scale-ups. The “Valley of Death” – the critical funding gap between R&D and commercialisation – hinders innovation and market access.

To overcome the challenges and harness the full potential of the alternative protein sector in the Netherlands, Invest-NL and Foodvalley NL make several recommendations. Firstly, it is crucial to develop a national strategy that creates innovation clusters and streamlines regulations to stimulate growth. Government policy should support this collaboration with structural funding and infrastructure.

Establishing regional hubs with advanced shared facilities, supported by public-private partnerships, can help companies grow faster. Implementing flexible access models will make these facilities more affordable for start-ups and scale-ups.

Financial support mechanisms need to be expanded with vouchers, subsidies, and innovative financing models. Introducing bridge financing programs is also important to bridge the gap between the R&D phase and commercialisation.

“To achieve a sustainable and climate-neutral food system, transitioning to alternative protein sources with lower emissions is crucial. The Netherlands has a unique opportunity to become a global leader in the alternative protein revolution. This report serves as a call to action for all parties to work together and stimulate the growth of this promising sector,” says Michiel Strijland, business development manager at Invest-NL.

“The report highlights the critical need to address the scaling challenges of startups and scaleups,” says Emmanuel Anom, lead shared facilities at Foodvalley NL. “By strategically investing in shared facilities and implementing supportive financial mechanisms, we can position
the Netherlands as a world leader in the transition to sustainable protein production.”

Download the report ‘Enhancing the ecosystem for alternative protein innovation: Strategies for scaling success’ here.

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