Close-up of bean burger

Photo: Karolin Baitinger on Unsplash

Alternative proteins


Our work supports the switch from meat and dairy to alternative sources of protein, so reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the food system.

Food systems account for almost one-third of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the amount of animal-based protein in our diet is an extremely effective way to reduce these emissions, but we need alternative protein sources as a substitute. Increasing consumer awareness and the rising demand for meat and dairy alternatives supports growth of the alternative proteins sector, which is underpinned by innovation in plant-based and cell-based technologies.

Investment in low carbon agriculture and the new protein economy (NPE) can stimulate the economy as part of building back better, while driving positive economic, environmental, and social effects in the longer-term. The transition away from conventional livestock and towards a more sustainable food system involves:

  • Switching to alternative protein sources
  • Investing in R&D to accelerate innovative production systems
  • Designing effective policy and regulation to drive behavioural change.

Our research

Our focus is enterprise, investment and policy.

We are exploring the role of established food companies as investors and drivers of alternative protein innovation. Corporate investment is a significant source of capital funding to the sector – we are investigating how venture funding of alternative proteins could influence progress towards net-zero emissions. With a credible route to market, meat and dairy alternatives that look, taste and cost the same (or less) as the ‘real thing’ could transform the protein content of human and animal diets within a single generation.

We need a low-carbon transition in the food sector in order to meet the nutritional demands of a growing population while addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, the post-pandemic recovery provides an opportunity to reframe policy to support the NPE. Maximising the economic, environmental, and societal benefits of alternative proteins will require multi-stakeholder collaboration between the private and public sectors as well as civic society, with a crucial role for government and its ability to act across the whole economy.

We are building a dynamic, open source record of corporate venture funding focused on alternative proteins. Our aim is to interview the main funders in order to understand their strategic objectives and the motivation behind their decisions. A preliminary version of the database will be available later in 2021, with the aim of inspiring and informing future research.

  • Katherine Collett
  • Julian Cottee
  • John Andrews
  • Sanjana Srivastav