Plant-based meat firm sets up R&D centre and HQ in S'pore

New plant-based meat alternative player Next Gen has put roots down in Singapore with a research and development (R&D) centre and its headquarters here.

The home-grown firm, which has six employees including its co-founders and chief technology officer, intends to put out its alternative chicken product by March next year. The firm officially launched today.

Its US$2.2 million (S$3 million) seed funding is provided by co-founder and chief executive Timo Recker, through his exit from German plant-based meat company LikeMeat following its acquisition earlier this year.

The firm's co-founder and chief operating officer Andre Menezes told The Straits Times that the start-up capital has been used to assemble the company's team here and get its R&D centre, which is located in Shenton Way, up and running. It is also channelled towards the development of commercial partnerships and branding, he added.

The firm is currently raising a bridge financing round, which will be closed by the end of the year, for its expansion plans in Asia.

It also aims to raise another round of funding in the second half of next year, Mr Recker said.

Next Gen currently has manufacturing capacity that can supply about 9,000 restaurants a year, through its partner in the Netherlands. Instead of running its own factories, Next Gen has chosen to emulate leading players and work with manufacturing partners around the globe, Mr Menezes said.

"We decided from the beginning that we want to develop a model in which we can expand globally quickly... Demand for this category has been booming," he said, adding that they sought a supply chain network and model that would be able to cope with quick expansion.

Mr Menezes has been working in Singapore for close to five years and was previously general manager of Country Foods, which distributes Impossible Foods' meat-alternative products in Singapore.

He pointed to Singapore's conducive business environment, its budding agri-food ecosystem and large pool of chefs across different cuisines as reasons for Next Gen's decision to set up here.

Mr Recker added: "If you look at the markets today, the United States, Europe are obviously very developed in the plant-based meats space. In Asia, we see a lot of potential, but the market is not yet developed to the same extent.

"(We feel that) we can really bring the technology and product here, and create a market-leading company in a field which is not yet occupied. There are players doing beef burgers, or pork, but nobody is really pushing forward with chicken."

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