Leveraging European Networks for Advancement in the Food Industry

The significance of networking is universally acknowledged, particularly in the dynamic realm of food startups, where it’s essential for fostering business growth and influencing policy changes. The Protein Cluster’s* webinar in October 2023 provided valuable insights that form the basis of this reflection, especially from the alternative protein sector’s perspective. The experts in the webinar were Bridge2Food’s Business Development Manager EcoSystems, Javier Berterreche, EIT Food CLC North East’s Director Marja-Liisa Meurice, and VTT’s Team Leader EU Programs, Andrea Danni.

Continue reading to find out our ten reasons why you should invest in networking in the alternative protein industry, and read how Bridge2Food builds bridges globally within the field.

*Protein Cluster is an initiative by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Cereal Committee and VTT, aiming to strengthen the growth in developing and producing Finnish plant-based products.

The Crucial Role of Networking in the Alternative Protein Industry

Networking in the alternative protein sector is not just beneficial; it’s a cornerstone for progress. Here are our ten reasons why:

  1. Collaboration and Innovation
    This emerging industry thrives on shared knowledge and technology. Networking catalyses partnerships, sparking innovation and accelerating product development and problem-solving.
  2. Resource Sharing
    Unique resources like bioreactors or fermentation technology are pivotal. Through networking, companies can share these resources, optimising costs and efficiency.
  3. Investment Opportunities
    Networking opens doors to investors, vital for the capital-intensive R&D phase.
  4. Regulatory Navigation
    Understanding complex regulations across different regions is easier when companies network and share insights.
  5. Supply Chain Resilience
    For an industry reliant on specific raw materials, networking ensures reliable sourcing and risk management in supply chains.
  6. Consumer Market Insights
    Connections with marketing professionals and retailers bring invaluable consumer behaviour insights, guiding effective product positioning.
  7. Talent Recruitment
    Networking is key to recruiting skilled professionals essential for industry growth and innovation.
  8. Policy Advocacy
    A unified industry voice in policy discussions can emerge from networking, advocating for favorable regulations.
  9. Public Awareness and Education
    Collaborations with media and educators help raise awareness about alternative proteins, which is crucial for market acceptance.
  10. Global Expansion
    Networking aids in exploring new markets and understanding local regulatory and cultural landscapes.

Case Bridge2Food: Pioneering a Global Plant-Based Ecosystem

For those new to networking, organisations like Bridge2Food are invaluable. They connect over 300 leaders from diverse sectors under one massive plant-based ecosystem, facilitating global knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

Bridge2Food operates on a mission to foster global food sustainability without compromising the food experience. They host bi-monthly online meetings and semi-annual summits, providing platforms for insight exchange, solution provision, and network expansion.

Bridge2Food’s 2023 Focus Areas:

  • Enhancing product quality and nutritional value of alternative proteins.
  • Ensuring product conformity and valorising the full potential of pulses.
  • Developing life-cycle analysis and strengthening value chain connectivity.

Bridge2Food not only fosters cross-value-chain collaborations but also partners with academic entities to link research with commercial interests. Their goals include developing industry standards, forming pre-competitive public-private partnerships, and publishing white papers on best practices for protein transition.

Closing Thoughts: The Future of Food Networking

As we delve deeper into the transformative journey of the food industry, the power of networking cannot be overstated. It’s a catalyst for innovation, a bridge connecting various industry facets, and a beacon guiding us towards sustainable and efficient food systems. The collaborative efforts spearheaded by organisations like Bridge2Food and EIT Food are more than just gatherings; they are the driving force shaping the future of food.

As we move forward, the emphasis on sustainable, plant-based alternatives will continue to grow. The role of networking in facilitating this shift is paramount. It’s about creating a synergy of ideas, resources, and expertise to navigate the challenges and harness the opportunities of this evolving landscape.

In conclusion, the future of the food industry, including the realm of alternative proteins, hinges on the strength and depth of our networks. By fostering these connections, we are not just building businesses or advancing technologies; we are shaping a sustainable future for generations to come.