S'pore start-up raises US$10m as it gears up to launch plant-based chicken product

Founders of foodtech start-up Next Gen, Mr Timo Recker (left) and Andre Menezes at Three Buns Quayside. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Local food tech start-up Next Gen has raised US$10 million (S$13.2 million) in its recent financing round, as it gears up to launch its alternative chicken product.

Among its investors are Temasek, the Economic Development Board's (EDB) New Ventures arm, Singapore-based tech venture capital firm K3 Ventures and Zurich-headquartered food tech venture fund Blue Horizon, Next Gen said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 25).

This follows its earlier founder capitalisation of US$2.2 million when it launched last October.

The financing interest exceeded the firm's target of US$7 million, said Next Gen co-founder and chief executive Timo Recker, who sees it as a strong validation of the start-ups team, technology and business model.

"Our investment success is thanks to support from all our investors, K3 Ventures in particular, which has a track record of being early backers of successful startups such as Grab and ByteDance," he added.

The funding will be used for the global launch of its plant-based chicken brand, expansion into additional Asian cities and continued research and development of new plant-based products.

The start-up also aims to expand to Europe and the United States in the next two years, said Next Gen co-founder and chief operating officer Andre Menezes.

"We are already laying the groundwork for the US, including recruiting a growth director, who will build a network of distributors, restaurants, and chefs," he added.

Its first offering, which looks to reproduce the taste and versatility of chicken thigh, was created in partnership with chefs, and is free of genetically modified organisms and cholesterol, the start-up said.

Mr Menezes said that the product would be available from outlets such as burger joint Three Buns and Chinese restaurant Empress.

In addition to its chicken thigh substitute, the firm is looking to introduce other plant-based chicken products under its consumer brand. It also has ambitions for other consumer brands, he said, adding: "The idea is to deliver a great experience to consumers so that they no longer feel the need to consume animal-based food."

Next Gen's launch of its plant-based chicken product continues the growing interest in the alternative meat sector in Singapore and globally.

Last December, Singapore approved the sale of a cultured meat product - chicken bites produced by Californian start-up Eat Just.

Singapore-based popiah skin maker Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing also unveiled its meat-free brand ALTN last year, with products such as gyoza and spaghetti bolognese. Its meals and snacks are made with plant-based proteins like fungus, peas and soy.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.