Joey Thurman: Startup Hub ICL Planet is helping companies scale their food production to promote a more sustainable future. Joining us now to give us all the details is their VP of external innovation, Hadar Sutovsky. Thanks for being here. Now, can you start by giving us a general overview of what ICL Planet is and how you work with companies in the plant based space?
Hadar Sutovsky: Sure. Actually, ICL group is a headquarter in Israel. It's a leading global specialty mineral company that creates impactful solutions for global food industry, global agriculture industry, and also all the industrial products markets. We leverage our unique resources of bromine, potash, and phosphate to drive growth across end markets. I am VP of external innovation. I have an umbrella of activities under my supervision. One of them is open innovation across the company's activity. A year ago I established the ICL Planet startup hub, ICL startup hub is actually the vehicle in which we are doing early stage investment in agriculture and food tech startups.
Joey Thurman: That's really important in the startups, especially in the plant based industry, right? You guys are helping with that. What kind of startups do you target for investments? Can you share some examples of companies that you're working with?
Hadar Sutovsky: Yeah, sure. Thank you for asking that. I have a passion for food tech and our company traditionally is very active in the food industry. Traditionally, from phosphate salts. But since six years ago, we started producing innovative alternative protein solutions, for the top tier food producers in the world. Now I'm targeting strategic startups and technologies that can provide me with innovative solutions for clean label ingredients, because we are a B2B ingredient company. We are looking for potentially highly functional alternative proteins, that could in the future replace chemicals or in numbers, in food products, in Vida, in vegan food products. So in food tech, this is mainly what I'm focused on in targeting.
Joey Thurman: Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the alternative protein sector?
Hadar Sutovsky: It's all across the value chain, I assume. I'm looking at it rather than a revolution, for me, alternative proteins are a transformation. If we want to reach a widespread adoption, we must reach to, and I guess you probably interviewed a lot of people in the sector and the space. Everybody would say that we need to reach some kind of parity with animal proteins. Where I see the biggest opportunities, it's actually in technologies that could match animal protein in taste in texture, and in price.
Joey Thurman: That's where you see a lot of potential, essentially where, where we want to try to almost mimic the texture and the taste of animal protein.
Hadar Sutovsky: Yes, exactly. I think I'm most excited on seeing opportunities that would lead us to better scale, speed, and the solutions that are more impactful. New food solution to this new food evolution. In the last past year, just for example, I've invested in two companies. One of them is Protera Biosciences. It's actually an AI based platform that are screening all the plant based databases, of all the existing protein that are out there. The known and also the unknown, and then identifying and matching between functionalities in the food industry. And targeting candidate proteins that could then use in their functionality as ingredient for the food industry, for emulsifying, for shelf life extension, preservation, taste, texture, whatever. That's the first investment that I did. Second one, was actually plantable foods. Again, very promising company that is growing, in a very monitored environment. They're extracting their RuBisCO protein, which is a highly, highly functional protein that could even match by functionality, egg. Like egg albumin, and other kinds of functional proteins. Then think about it. We can actually replace lows in the vegan hamburger, for example, just for example.
Joey Thurman: Wow. I mean, matching the functionality of egg is a big feat to talk about. I mean, high bio availability. If you're able to say that, I'm sure that you've got a lot of backing behind that. That's exciting. What do you hope to see happening in the alternative protein industry in the next 10 years?
Hadar Sutovsky: You probably heard that, I'm very excited since I invested in Protera. Very excited about the term, food as a software. I see huge opportunities there. I think that a lot of opportunities will emerge, mainly in the areas that are in between biotechnology and software. Including products that can, product simulation and simulation of taste or testing. New products, artificial intelligence that is embedded into the process and the downstream processes, molecular databases, new gene sequencing and editing. This can add a lot of value, so think about food as a software. This is something I'm very keen of. Another thing is that I'm especially nowadays starting to explore, is another niche that is called air proteins. Have you heard about that?
Joey Thurman: No, that's actually the first time. I mean, food as a software, that's a unique term and now air protein as well. You're filling me in, nice job.
Hadar Sutovsky: Food as a software and now air proteins. Yes, I'm all about it. Well, you asked me what I'm excited about. So in alternative protein, yes, air proteins would be very exciting niche to explore in the near future. Especially if you are really, really into net zero future. If you care about sustainability, if you care about creating positive impact. I would check air proteins as well.
Joey Thurman: Okay. I'm going to check that out, and then food software, so many things. Speaking of exciting things, you're going to be judging the Gone in 60 Seconds, great movie by the way, startup showcase at this summer's Future Food-Tech Alternative Protein Summit. What advice can you give companies to craft the best elevator pitch possible?
Hadar Sutovsky: Wow, amazing question. I was also in the spring in Future Food in San Francisco, and I have to tell you that all the companies that were showcasing were brilliant. I was very satisfied with all these talent and presenters. So let me think, my two cents for this alternative protein showcase would be, first of all, be authentic. Second, talk about the need, talk about the problem that you are solving. Don't become like a follower, don't be another "me too" technology. You have to show us that you stand up from the crowd.
Joey Thurman: Well, that's great. Be authentic, solve a problem, stand out from the crowd. Thank you so much for joining us Hadar, and make sure you connect with ICL Planet at Future Food-Tech's Alternative Protein Summit in New York this summer, June 21st and 22nd. Thank you so much for being here.
Hadar Sutovsky: Amazing. See you there.