Bite-sized Innovations: Hacking the Future of Alternative Protein

Join Good Food Institute and TUM Venture Lab FAB for an virtual hackathon where innovation meets sustainability, and students pioneer alternative protein solutions! Tackle real-world challenges posed by industry leaders.
Virtually connecting Singapore and Europe
Bite sized Innovations Website Bild

For four days, immerse yourself in the world of alternative protein innovation. Collaborate with industry mentors and peers from diverse backgrounds to develop groundbreaking solutions that address real-world challenges in sustainable food production. Culminate your experience with a final presentation showcasing your innovative ideas and solutions.

Apply now! 

Successful applicants will be invited to the overall kick-off meeting and team matchmaking session on June 06 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (CEST).

What are alternative proteins?

plant-based, cultivated meats, fermentation-derived

Alternative proteins are an avenue to revolutionize the way we eat, offering sustainable and innovative alternatives to traditional animal products. Derived from plants, animal cells, or through fermentation, these cutting-edge foods replicate the taste, texture, and nutritional value of conventional meats, all while requiring fewer resources and producing fewer environmental impacts. From plant-based burgers to cultivated meats and fermentation-derived options, alternative proteins pave the way for a more ethical, efficient, and environmentally friendly food system, transforming the future of protein consumption for the better.


Upon successful selection, participants will be allowed to select a challenge from a list of challenges across plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation-derived domains. Below are examples of what the challenges will look like:


provided by Dr. Oetker

Clean-Label non-dairy Casein

There are many proteins in milk with different properties and functionalities (different whey proteins and different caseins). Current vegan cheese alternatives usually have very little protein and no good functionality on pizza (hot application, mouth feel, stickiness, stringiness). Increasing the protein level deteriorates the textural properties even further. Is there a protein from nature that behaves like casein rather than like whey protein and can give melted cheese the desired properties?

Creating sweetness: Clean label, non-Novel Food and not sugar / honey / fructose ecc.

Sugar (in all its forms like honey, fructose, etc.) is not desirable from a nutritional point of view. Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners is also not a feasible option for all foods.
Is there a way to make products (focus on cakes, desserts, decorations and breakfast cereals) taste sweet without the harmful effects of sugar while maintaining a clean label (no e-number or consumer-scaring names) and possibly not even using Novel Foods?
Different types of sweet proteins have been identified, do any of these meet the criteria or can you find an even better solution?


provided by Bühler Group

Marbled plant-based meat

High moisture extrusion is still the most widely used processing method to create meat analogues as the technology is easily scalable and mature. However, mimicking higher quality cuts of meat like marbled beef has proven to be difficult as increasing extrudates’ oil/ fat content can interfere with the protein texturization process due to their lubricating effect. Are there ways where we can add realistic marbling to high moisture meat analogues?

Variation in protein functionalities

Functionalities of different protein isolates/ concentrates vary greatly depending on their sources. However, even the same species can have different texturization behaviours because of cultivation and processing methods. While these differences are inevitable, there has been little to none done to create standardization in protein functionality literature. What would be the solution(s) to this issue?


provided by Happy Ocean Foods

Plant-Based Seafood Clean-Label Challenge

It is known that consumers are paying more attention to having less processed foods for health and sustainability reasons. Having a shorter and easy-to-understand ingredient list could help consumers to better understand that the alternative product is less processed, and therefore, it is a healthy and more sustainable choice increasing consumer acceptability for this segment. Your challenge is to identify ingredients and processing technologies that will allow to produce a plant-based shrimp, with max. 10 ingredients, additive-free, while having great taste, good texture, and good nutritional profile: high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and source of omega-3.

Innovation Scale-Up Challenge

Upscaling is one of the biggest challenges for start-ups trying to bring innovative products to the market. Maybe you have the best product with the most innovative process, but when coming to the upscaling stage you find out that changes might be needed, and that the industrial scale outcome of your product is not as good as the one you produced in the lab. Additionally, this comes with high costs since industrial machines often have a minimum volume to operate, as well as suppliers have a minimum order quantity (MOQ), which might be much higher than your planned
sales volume, which has a big impact in your financial planning and success. Can you elaborate a plan for your start-up that would take this challenge upfront and have a successful product launch?


provided by ERIDIA 

Heat integration possibility in cultured meat production

One of the main selling points of cultured meat is its lower environmental impact compared to standard meat production. One way to lower energy consumption even further is by using the so-called “waste heat” coming from other industries (or vice versa having another industry using the waste heat produced by the cultured meat process). Which type of industry would be the ideal candidate for integrating a culture meat facility and how much energy could potentially be saved? Energy savings should be the main focus but other integration advantages should also be taken into account (e.g. shared utilities equipment, shared wastewater treatment etc.).  

Facilitate the development of fermentation facilities by retrofitting existing equipment

Fermentation is opening the door to endless possibilities to ensure food availability and safety in a sustainable way by overcoming geographical and climate challenges. However, building a facility for the production of novel food requires a remarkable investment both in funds and time. One way to boost sustainability even further, lower investment costs and avoid long lead items is by retrofitting dismantled equipment from other industries and possibly adapt the process to the available equipment. The focus of the task is on bioreactors for microalgae production. What industry could possibly have similar requirements that could be retrofitted for this scope? The battery limit is the bioreactor itself, think of what can’t be changed from a physical point of view (e.g. max operating pressure and temperature, heating and cooling requirement, H/D ratio, total volume, sterility within the vessel, etc.).  


provided by BayWa

Texture improvement for meat alternatives based on protein flours or concentrates

The firmness of texturants (HMES or TVP) for meat alternatives is highly dependent on the protein content of the texturised blend. The higher the protein content, the firmer the fibre structure. On the other hand, the trend in the production of vegetable protein ingredients is towards less water and energy intensive processes, such as mechanical de-oiling of oilseeds or dry fractionation of starch legumes. However, the disadvantage of the resulting protein ingredients is that their protein content is significantly lower than that of wet-chemically produced isolates. What process, technological or recipe steps can be used to achieve adequate mouthfeel (fibrous structure, firm bite) with these protein ingredients?

 Allergen-free alternatives for nut-based dairy applications

In addition to oats and soy, nuts such as almonds and cashews are often used as a source of vegetable protein in the dairy alternative sector. On the one hand, the production of these raw materials is very irrigation-intensive and on the other hand, nuts are not edible for many consumers due to allergens. However, the advantages of these ingredients are their color and the neutral to slightly nutty taste. What allergen-free plant-based raw materials with similar functional and technological properties could be considered as alternatives for these applications? 


provided by Umami Bioworks

Edible polymer biomaterials for culturing fish stem cells

Controlling cell behaviour such as adhesion, orientation, proliferation, and differentiation is important in cultivated meat production. The extracellular matrix (ECM) predominately determines these cellular behaviours in vivo and for the best results in vitro, strategies to provide a microenvironment that closely mimics the ECM are needed. One such strategy is using microcarriers made of edible, biodegradable polymers as scaffolds for cell culture. These polymer biomaterials must possess the appropriate scientific characteristics, be scalable and commercially feasible to manufacture, fulfil regulatory standards, and potentially even impart desirable nutritional and sensory attributes to the finished product. Can you curate a list of edible polymer biomaterials with suitable physical attributes, such as stiffness and porosity, that can be used to culture fish stem cells for cultivated seafood? 

Alternate bioreactor modalities and designs for scalable and efficient cell cultures

Cultivated meat production needs a specialized bioreactor design optimized for efficient, scalable and high-density cell cultures. The commonly used stirred tank reactors (STRs) adopted from the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors are not fit for purpose and do not offer an efficient approach for producing cultivated meat at large scales. Instead of reinventing bioreactors, which can be a resource-intensive and time-consuming endeavour, a pragmatic approach to tackling this challenge entails leveraging features and modalities from diverse existing bioreactor designs across different manufacturing industries. This can be done by identifying compatible elements such as hardware materials, impeller designs, sensors, spargers, and control systems from various existing bioreactor designs. Can you think of alternate modalities to STRs or novel bioreactor design concepts that can cater to the unique requirements of cultivated meat production and be cost-effective as manufacturing is scaled up?


Who can participate in the hackathon?

Students (undergraduate and postgraduate) with a background in the life sciences, biomedical science & biotechnology, chemistry & chemical engineering, food science & technology, computer science & machine learning, business development & management

Participants from Singapore and Europe across diverse disciplines will be grouped into teams

Join Good Food Institute APAC & Europe collaborating with TUM Venture Lab FAB to explore alternative protein solutions and ignite your inner entrepreneur!


Any questions or comments? Reach out to us! 

The deadline for applications is 15 May.

Photo credit: Shiok Meats