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ALTIOTAKE FROM 26-30 OCTOBER

Each week, we review the press, highlighting and responding to interesting and relevant articles in the news.

MOOLEC’S GAMECHANGER

Ag-Foodtech startup Moolec Science has announced research on a hybrid alternative protein that merges plant-based and cell-based solutions, employing molecular farming to revolutionise the industry. By using plants as bioreactors, Moolec’s approach is 10x more cost-effective than its competitors, making plants do most of the heavy-lifting. Altio thinks Moolec’s hybrid innovation shows promise as it works within the agricultural ecosystem to democratise alternative proteins, moving towards increasingly cost-effective and sustainable solutions that actually taste good. It’s clear that Moolec plans to revolutionise the farming industry by capitalising on its core asset: farmers. Working within this ecosystem but introducing cutting-edge innovations, Moolec may just be the one to normalise alternative protein for good. Alternative protein is not just a fad or reserved for those dabbling in ‘meatless Mondays’; it is here to stay and VCs across the market are putting their money where their mouth is, literally.

LONDON AS A HUB OF IMPACT TECH

From 2015 to 2020, global venture capital (VC) investment in impact tech increased 280%. During the same period, impact tech startups in London saw a near 800% increase in VC investment. Moreover, during this period, London impact startups secured 429 deals, more than any other city. Though many forecasted unfavourable conditions for London’s tech and innovation startups after Brexit, this does not appear to be the case for impact tech. London may not have a Silicon Valley, but we do have a Silicon Roundabout, leading the industry with innovative solutions to global crises.  Altio salutes and encourages the investment in impact tech startups that are attempting to take high risks and alter the ecosystem for the greater good, rather than simply using ESG as a check-box or performative gesture. It is the former that seeks to disrupt the status-quo in favour of sustainable, forward-focused solutions.

KLAIN IN TECH AND STARTUPS’ CORNER

Throughout his campaign, President-Elect Joe Biden hinted at increasing regulations on tech, making Big Tech behemoths anxious. However, Biden’s choice of Ron Klain as his Chief of Staff may quell some of these fears as Klain is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Revolution, a technology venture capital firm launched by AOL co-founder Steve Case. More importantly, Klain is an advocate for startups, actively warning against the negative impact regulation may have on innovation, even writing a piece in TechCrunch back in 2015. Biden may seem to be a bit behind on tech trends as he nears octogenarian status, but his Chief of Staff pick is a tech cheerleader who knows and understands the ecosystem. Altio thinks this choice will diffuse any tensions as tech sector interests are likely to be protected and promoted with the incoming administration. We are excited to see how having a tech enthusiast in the White House will impact the market and encourage innovation.

AFRICA-BASED TECH VC INVESTMENT

Lori Systems, a Kenyan logistics startup, recently secured funding from South Africa-based Imperial Venture Fund, enabling expansion of its digital disruption in supply chain management solutions across Southern Africa. Between 2014-2019, North American VCs accounted for 42% of investment in African startups, while only 20% came from Africa-based VCs. Africa-based VC investment is crucial to Africa-based tech startups. However, of this funding, a majority of investment goes towards expat founders based in Africa, not local founders. Altio is paying close attention to the emerging tech market in Africa and its increasing momentum, particularly in Nigeria and the Silicon Savannah. We see promising and innovative startups with the ability to have both local and global impacts. Once markets resolve payment and logistics hurdles, Africa will be the next frontier for large tech investment, so long as local founders and startups receive appropriate shares of funding to actually encourage this grassroot innovation.

FORD (IT’S ELECTRIC!)

Ford Motors announced the F-150 electric pickup truck, taking America’s most purchased car into the future. This transition towards electrification already spans 14 Ford models, first entering the race with the Mustang Mach-E in 2019. Ford of Europe’s President, Stuart Rowley, claims Ford’s future is "rooted in electrification.” Altio finds it quite interesting to watch how traditional industry giants respond to trends and disruption in the market. Ford seems like the antithesis to electric vehicles, boasting a garage full of All-American pickup trucks running on diesel, mustangs with revving engines, and simple inexpensive sedans. But as the king of assembly lines, Ford’s switch to electric will likely mean an industry-wide movement towards electric, resulting in cost-effective and accessible electric vehicles for everyone, not just Tesla groupies.