5, 4, 3, 2, 1... on Thursday 14 January, the second edition of the ReThink Protein Challenge officially kicked off in an online event. Students and partners from around the world tuned in for more information about the event, its organisers and partners, and the rapidly changing world of proteins.
Tsunami of interest in alternative proteins
The programme started with a presentation by Edgar Suarez Garcia, the winner of the previous ReThink Protein Challenge. Following his victory, Edgar founded FUMI Ingredients, a startup that develops natural egg white replacers. In this capacity, he has experienced a “tsunami of interest” from food companies that “want to get into the wave of alternative proteins.” He then shared some of his memories from 2019, recalling the creativity of his fellow students, their energy and enthusiasm and their eagerness to contribute to sustainability. He also advised current students to be creative, to have fun and not to be afraid to make mistakes.
Next, organizers Rio Pals and Marta Eggers explained the practical side of this Student Challenge. Rio described the assignment that participants will be working on: to come up with a business idea or prototype to provide sufficient, healthy and affordable protein that is good for the planet. The idea conceived by students will have to fulfill three criteria: it has to be 1) aimed at a specific market, 2) more sustainable than current alternatives, and 3) innovative and unique. Marta added that students can follow trainings and webinars. She then showed the timetable, explaining that there will be three rounds with firm deadlines.
On your marks...
Partners are crucial for the organisation of the Student Challenge, by providing coaches, inspiration, knowledge and more. In the final part of the event, representatives of these partners introduced themselves in short videos. Several of them joined Stacy Pyett, Programme Manager Proteins for Life at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR), in a discussion on the protein transition. Everyone was eager to see what interesting new visions students are going to submit in the coming months.
Finally, the time had come for Stacy Pyett to officially open the second edition of the ReThink Protein Challenge. For the participants, exciting times are ahead. 160 days from now, we will know which team came up with the most promising protein idea.