Asia Pacific Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge gives plant-based food start-ups the opportunity to bring their projects to market faster

06 Sep 2022 · 08:00 CEST
Following two successful programmes in North America and in Europe, Bühler, Cargill and Givaudan bring their combined innovation power to bear and help plant-based protein start-ups to scale up and commercialise in Asia Pacific with the Scale It Up! Challenge. Registration for this unique programme is now open. The top 15 start-ups selected in the first round will pitch their proposals to the partner companies and, then, five start-ups will gain access to the partner companies’ testing and scale up piloting facilities at the Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore, in an all-expense paid trip. The deadline for applications is 1 October 2022.

Bühler, Cargill and Givaudan have joined forces to help accelerate start-ups who are innovating in plant-based protein, to address the needs of a growing global population. By the year 2050, the world’s population will reach 9.8 billion people1. Asia is well positioned to drive global food demand, including proteins, as home of 60% of the global population2 and a rising middle class3. Alternative protein sources will need to complement the traditional protein sources to feed the needs of the population. 

During the programme, start-up companies who register and submit their project will gain visibility to the larger, plant-based protein ecosystem and be able to network and collaborate with others on a similar journey. One winner and one runner-up will be chosen and provided ongoing support that will help them scale their product for market introduction. 

The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge will provide resources, mentorship, and expertise to start-ups with innovative solutions for plant-based meat or seafood alternatives. The three sponsoring companies are all active in the production of sustainable, plant-based protein ingredients, each focusing on differing parts of the value chain and each bringing their unique expertise to the challenge. The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge will provide resources, mentorship, and expertise to the challenge winners.

“The rising protein gap is a challenge too big to solve alone,” says Dr Aparna Venkatesh, Regional Innovation Lead of Bühler. “The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge is designed to accelerate start-ups who are also working to close that gap. It allows regional start-ups to access our expertise, ecosystem, capabilities and facilities to develop delicious plant-based meat products. The value we see here is lowering the entry barrier and innovating with them to help them to help on their journey to commercialisation and bringing their product to market more quickly. We’re excited to kick-off the Asia Pacific version of this unique challenge with our likeminded partners and look forward to seeing what it will bring.”

"Innovations in food technology are changing how we think about food and how it is produced. Through Scale It Up!, we’re challenging start-ups to come up with new, disruptive ideas in the plant-based protein space, to adopt a longer and broader view toward providing diverse proteins to the world. With our deep knowledge of plant protein ingredients, our expertise in R&D, product development and production, and in partnership with other players in the industry, we hope to help innovators test their ideas and scale it to the market," said Kok Wei Beh, Regional Technical Leader, Cargill.

“The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge provides a unique co-creation opportunity to develop and scale plant-based food experiences. We aim to accelerate and support the journey for start-ups – providing them access to the expertise, networks and technology required to create authentic plant-based products that consumers will love. At our Protein Innovation Centre, start-ups will be able to benefit from an end-to-end approach, as we guide them through every step of their product development and research journey. We invite all start-ups in the region to join us in making plant-based foods more delicious and accessible to all!” shared Michele van der Walt, Regional Head of Innovation, Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing APAC.

Asia Pacific is experiencing a boom in alternative proteins innovation. In Asia Pacific, alternative protein investments grew from USD 162 million in 2020 to USD 312 million in 20214 (a huge 92% surge). Consumer food spending in general is slated to jump over the next decade in Asia Pacific. A study by PwC, Rabobank and Temasek5 predicts that consumer-driven growth in food spending in Asia Pacific will hit USD 1.1 trillion in 2030, an 83% jump compared to 2019, a growth rate that would outpace China's.

The Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge is taking idea submissions until 1 October 2022. Companies wishing to enter the challenge can register here. On 12 October the top 15 projects will be selected by a panel of experts from the three partner companies. These companies will have a week to prepare their pitches, and on 19 October, the top 5 will be selected to advance. From 1 December to 25 January, the top 5 will visit the facilities of the partner companies. In February 2023, the final pitches will be made, and a winner and runner-up chosen. The two selected companies will receive support to help develop and scale their product for market introduction. 

Check out previous winners NowADays and MOAFoodtech.


About Bühler
Bühler is driven by its purpose of creating innovations for a better world, balancing the needs of economy, humanity, and nature. As a relevant solution partner for the food and mobility industries, Bühler is committed to have solutions ready to multiply by 2025 at the latest that will reduce energy, waste, and water by 50% in its customers’ value chains. Billions of people come into contact with Bühler technologies as they cover their basic needs for food and mobility every day. Two billion people each day enjoy foods produced on Bühler equipment; and one billion people travel in vehicles manufactured using parts produced with Bühler technology. Countless people wear eyeglasses, use smart phones, and read newspapers and magazines – all of which depend on Bühler process technologies and solutions. Having this global relevance, Bühler is in a unique position to turn today’s global challenges into sustainable business. Bühler contributes to safely feeding the world and is doing its part to protect the climate, producing solutions that make cars, buildings, and machinery more energy efficient.
Bühler invests up to 5% of turnover into research and development. In 2021, some 12,500 employees generated a turnover of CHF 2.7 billion. As a Swiss family-owned company, Bühler is active in 140 countries around the world and operates a global network of 103 service stations, 30 manufacturing sites, and Application & Training Centers in 24 countries.
About Givaudan
Givaudan is a global leader in Fragrance & Beauty and Taste & Wellbeing. We celebrate the beauty of hu-man experience by creating for happier, healthier lives with love for nature. Together with our customers we deliver food experiences, craft inspired fragrances and develop beauty and wellbeing solutions that make people look and feel good. In 2021, Givaudan employed over 16,800 people worldwide and achieved CHF 6.7 billion in sales with a free cash flow of 12.6%. With a heritage that stretches back over 250 years, we are committed to driving long-term, purpose-led growth by improving people’s health and happiness and increasing our positive impact on nature. This is Givaudan. Human by nature. Discover more at:
About Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing
Powered by innovation and creativity, Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing aims to shape the future of food by becoming the co-creation partner of choice to its customers. Built on its global leadership position in flavours and taste, the Company goes beyond to create food experiences that do good and feel good, for body, mind and planet. With an expanded portfolio of products across flavours, taste, functional and nutritional solutions and a deep knowledge of the food ecosystem, Givaudan’s passion is to collaborate with customers and partners to develop game changing innovations in food and beverage. Let’s imagine together the future of food. Learn more at
About Cargill
Cargill’s 155,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, we connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. We combine 156 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, we are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture. For more information, please visit

For further information please contact
Dalen Jacomino Panto, Media Relations Manager
Bühler AG, 9240 Uzwil, Switzerland
T +41 71 955 37 57
M +41 79 900 53 88
Jayanthi Rajoo, Taste & Wellbeing Communications
Pris Tan, Global Communications, Cargill