The shift towards plant-based proteins is a significant development in the food industry, and a crucial step towards achieving long-term sustainability within the food production ecosystem. However, this transition presents challenges related to taste, functional properties, and nutritional aspects, which can hinder their use as substitutes for animal-based proteins in food products. Reinvent Protein aims to tackle these challenges simultaneously, empowering food developers to fully integrate plant proteins into their products. Recently the partly Danish company branched out to Wageningen in the heart of the Foodvalley region. In this article founder Sander Sieuwerts introduces their company.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
“We are a trio of co-founders with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Together we share a common vision - the desire to make a positive and meaningful impact on people and the planet. That's why we are so passionate about Reinvent Protein.”
What does Reinvent Protein do?
“Reinvent Protein's innovative approach involves using hydrolysis and fermentation to break down plant-based proteins into smaller, more digestible molecules. This process makes the proteins more functional, allowing them to be used in a variety of food products. Additionally, the smaller protein molecules are more easily absorbed by the body, increasing the nutritional value of the final product. Those products can be acidic beverages, vegan beverages, protein bars, meat alternatives and sports nutrition, among others.”
Can you explain why choose the region Foodvalley as your location?
“Few places boast as well-established a food ecosystem as the Netherlands, with Foodvalley serving as its central hub. It is rooted in the region's rich history of advancements in the field, bolstered by the active role of organizations like Foodvalley NL, StartLife, and Oost NL in fostering connections among companies that share common interests. Additionally, the presence of numerous potential partners within the area contributes to this thriving.”
How does Reinvent Protein want to cooperate with other companies, public partners or knowledge institutes in the region?
"We recognize that we can't handle everything on our own, so we actively engage in collaborations with a wide range of partners. Our collaborative efforts span a spectrum, from seeking guidance and outsourcing tasks that are beyond our scope, such as patenting, to embarking on joint projects with knowledge institutions like NIZO to scale up our processes. Additionally, we work closely with third-party manufacturers for production purposes and apply our innovative solutions in various food applications at customer sites.”
Do you also cooperate with education and research institutes – and if so, how?
“We leverage the expertise and resources available at a research institute to scale up our process to a near-commercial level. This not only facilitates its implementation at third-party manufacturers but also enables us to provide samples for testing in various applications with customers. By adopting this approach, we significantly reduce our time to market. Concurrently, a university college investigates specific attributes of our solutions, bolstering our position by enhancing our unique selling points.”
Oost NL assisted you in starting up your business in Wageningen. How helpful was this?
“We’ve benefited greatly from the guidance of two business coaches provided by Oost NL in StartLife. These coaches, in conjunction with discussions with various other members within the organization, have played a pivotal role in helping us establish precise goals and formulate a focused strategy. This strategic clarity significantly enhances our prospects for a successful launch in 2024. The coaches also boast an extensive network of potential partners. By facilitating introductions between us and these potential collaborators, we have found it considerably easier to navigate the ecosystem and establish fruitful collaborations. Furthermore, Oost NL provides invaluable assistance in securing grants, a highly positive development for any startup company.”
What are your plans for the near future?
“Presently, our focus lies in the process of scaling up our initial solutions and conducting trials within customer applications. Our plan is to launch and commence the sale of superior-tasting, more functional, and highly nutritious plant protein ingredients to food producers around mid-2024. To further increase our positive impact on the plant protein industry, we are actively forging collaborations with key players in the sector.”
“With the advantage of having two co-founders with strong scientific backgrounds, we are already delving into the development of next-generation solutions. In line with our growth strategy, we anticipate establishing our own office and laboratory facilities in or around Wageningen, enabling us to continue our journey of innovation and excellence.”