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Challenge Seeks Sustainable Chicken, Fish Alternatives

D.C. fish market

Municipal Fish Market. Washington, D.C. (A. Kotok)

7 Dec. 2020. A new challenge competition from XPrize is looking for alternatives to chicken and fish that look and taste like the real thing, but are friendlier to the planet. XPrize’s Feed the Next Billion competition has a total prize purse of $15 million, with the first team registration and technical submission deadline set for 28 Apr. 2021.

The Feed the Next Billion challenge asks participants to produce chicken or fish alternatives that can compete successfully with conventional chicken or fish on quality, nutrition, and price in the marketplace. Successful entries will consistently generate multiple, 115 gram or 4 ounce portions of chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives that match the sensory properties, texture, and nutrition of real chicken or fish, but are produced with a smaller environmental footprint. Entries can use plant-based, cultivated, blended, or other technologies.

The competition is result of XPrize’s Future of Food Impact Roadmap that spells out a growing problem of global food security, at the same time of increasing obesity, while tackling environmental degradation from agriculture. Yet, 70 percent of employment in developing countries, according to XPrize, is in the food and agriculture sectors, with many growers barely able to survive. The roadmap highlights 12 breakthroughs needed in three sets of issues: healthier food, more inclusive supply chains, and managing food systems within environmental constraints.

“XPrize Feed the Next Billion seeks to create poultry and fish that is affordable, sustainable, more nutritious, and a lower cost than mechanisms now in place,” says XPrize founder Peter Diamandis in an organization statement. “We believe hundreds of entrepreneurs will focus on driving breakthroughs in this critical and important area to help feed the world.”

Challenge participants are asked to form teams, and enter the competition through XPrize’s prize operations platform or POP. The competition has an entry fee of $1,000 through 17 Feb. 2021, with the fee rising to $1,500 after that date. Full challenge guidelines can be downloaded from the POP portal after initial registration. The deadline for team registration and submitting technical proposals is 28 Apr. 2021.

The Feed the Next Billion challenge is organized into three rounds that runs over four years. Judges will review the first round technical entries and announce the semifinalist winners in the second quarter of 2021. Up to 30 semifinalist teams will divide $500,000 in prize money. The semifinalist teams will then have a year to refine, enhance, or re-engineer their solutions, during which time a semifinalist meeting and verification process are expected to take place.

Judges will select up to 10 finalist teams, which divide $2.5 million in prize money. The 10 finalists will have until the fourth quarter of 2023 to further refine or modify their solutions, with another meeting of finalists and verification taking place, followed by final testing and judging. Announcement of the top winners and awards, dividing the $12 million purse, is expected in the first quarter of 2024. A bonus prize is also offered for developing an animal-origin-free growth media at the lowest production cost.

The Feed the Next Billion challenge is co-sponsored by Aspire, the management arm of Advanced Technology Research Council in Abu Dhabi that funds research and holds technology competitions, and the Tony Robbins Foundation that helps provide millions of meals globally each year. The Good Food Institute that assists companies in developing cultivated and plant-based meat alternatives is also a challenge partner.

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