Webinar: The Future of Food

Missed our live session? Catch the recording of this webinar where ClearlySo's David Gowenlock, joined by exceptional guest speakers to dive into the subject of sustainability, the food industry and how impact funds have a role to play.

November 11, 2020

On the first trading day in May 2019 shares of Beyond Meat soared 163%, the best performing IPO for nearly two decades. At one point in 2019, Beyond Meat was bigger than 25% of companies in the S&P 500. Despite volatility in the stock since launch and the company’s heavy exposure to a food service slump during the coronavirus pandemic, the company is currently valued at $7.8bn.

Beyond Meat’s IPO could be considered an inflection point and the start of major changes in our food system. Since then two of the largest U.S. milk processors have filed for bankruptcy, Swedish oat-milk maker Oatly has reached a staggering $2bn valuation after selling a $200m stake to a group led by private-equity giant Blackstone, and cellular agriculture company Aleph Farms has successfully grown meat in space.

Capital has been flowing into the space at an increasing rate. Venture investments in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives soared to $1.1 billion this year, up from $457 million in all of 2019, while investments in companies that grow cell-based meat more than tripled to $290 million from $75 million.

As more products come to market as a result, Bloomberg reported that global meat consumption is down for the first time in nine years, dropping 3% from last year. Meanwhile the German Federal Statistical Office reported an increase of 37% in sales of vegetarian and vegan products, and the number of vegan trademarks registered in the UK leapt 128% in a year as the trend for plant-based foods accelerates.

As new firms rush to capture this soaring demand big corporates have also started reacting – KFC is partnering with 3D Bioprinting Solutions to produce cellular agriculture based KFC nuggets using a novel bioprinter, DuPont has launched a new plant-based brand Danisco Planit, and US food giant Cargill’s Chief Information Officer Jane Kilmartin admitted ‘the pandemic has altered consumer behaviour and the customary supply chain practices’.

With food considered the largest industry in the world (the World Bank estimates 10% of global GDP), institutional investors have started to take notice of the changes underfoot and consider how to integrate the evolving market dynamics into their investment theses.

To help navigate the emerging food tech sector ClearlySo and our partners have brought together experts in the field across investment, science, and policy to discuss the changes underfoot and how we might all be eating in the years to come.

Professor Sir Ian Boyd is currently a professor at the University of St Andrews and Chair of the UK Research Integrity Office. He was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on Food and the Environment (2012-2019).  He is a marine and polar scientist and previously served as the first Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at St Andrews. He is and a director of a number of trusts and companies.

David joined ClearlySo in June 2019 working in Impact Funds Advisory and Capital Raising. He is responsible for advising impact fund managers, DFIs, foundations, and enterprises to set up, structure, market, and raise capital as well as advising institutional investors on developing an impact investment strategy and deploying capital to achieve their impact and financial return objectives.

David holds an MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona, and spent time at an emerging market agriculture PE fund and a UK tech-for-good VC fund prior to joining ClearlySo.

Mai Karas is an Investment Associate on Rabo Corporate Investment’s team, private equity arm of Rabobank.  Rabo Corporate Investments has deployed nearly €1.4B through various capital solutions (equity, subordinated debt & scale-up financing) to early stage innovative companies, scale-ups and dedicated food & agri funds globally.

Mai Karas joined Rabo Corporate Investments in 2018, initially focusing on investing seed and growth equity in start-ups in food and agriculture. Since 2019 Mai is dedicated to co-investments, targeting more mature businesses alongside private equity partners in North America and Europe. Prior to Rabobank, Mai spent two years in private equity and venture capital at ADM Capital and Shift Invest, investing across F&A value-chains. During his studies in Wageningen, he founded and ran a super-food company, producing and distributing healthy juices from his native Croatia. Mai holds a master’s degree in Management in Life Sciences from Wageningen University, and a joint Bachelor degree from KU Leuven & University of Zagreb in Agriculture engineering and Agriculture economics.

Michael Kleindl (51) is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Blue Horizon Ventures, a Swiss based Venture Capital Fund with EUR 200M AUM seeking to disrupt the existing supply chain of food with technology, innovation and best in class entrepreneurs. Plant based proteins, synthetic biology, cultivated food and sustainability in the food system (packaging & food waste) are the main focus areas of interest.

In his previous life he was a successful entrepreneur in Tech & Internet including IPO with AdLINK, successful business angel investor for KOMM and Venture Capital Investor with Seaya engaged with companies such like Adcloud, Bodeboca, Buy VIP, Cabify, Crossinx, Coru, Giant Swarm, Glovo, Reservamos,, Sindelantal, Smartclip, Ticketea, Zanox and many others. He exited portfolio companies to the likes of Antena 3/RTL, Amazon, Axel Springer AG, Deutsche Post DHL, Experian, Eventbrite, Just Eat (2X) amongst others.

Michael holds a university degree in Business Administration from the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel, (Germany) and completed a 2-year management-training program in one of Germany´s largest public banking institutions. He is married to a wonderful woman and has four kids. He lives in Zürich, Switzerland and obviously likes all kind of outdoor sports.

Elliot Swartz is a Senior Scientist at The Good Food Institute (GFI) (, an international nonprofit organization accelerating the alternative protein sector through plant-based and cultivated food technologies. He focuses on analyzing the intersection of various scientific disciplines with cultivated meat, driving key GFI-sponsored research projects in cultivated meat, and educating scientists, the public, and other industry stakeholders. Swartz has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he worked with induced pluripotent stem cells to model neuromuscular disease.