The initiative incentivises teams to produce chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives that replicate or outperform their animal counterparts

Non-profit organisation XPrize has launched a $15 million competition that will incentivise teams the world over to produce chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives that replicate or outperform its animal counterpart in terms of accessibility, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, nutrition and health, as well as taste and texture. Details of the competition were announced at the New Food Invest conference last week.

“Any solution approach is eligible to compete and this prize,” said XPrize programme Lead Caroline Kolta. “So, it’s open cell-based, plant-based, and blended approaches are eligible among others.”

Kolta said the first technical submission round closes on 31 May.

XPrize: Feed the Next Billion

The competition offers a prize purse of $15 million that will be distributed according to the following breakdown:

  • Semifinalist Prize: $500,000 shared equally between up to 30 Semifinalist Teams selected by the Judging Panel to advance to Semifinal Testing.
    It is intended to help offset costs associated with early solution development and for travel to Semifinal Testing locations. This will be awarded June-July 2021 (specific date TBD).
  • Finalist Prize: $2.5 million shared equally between up to 10 Finalist Teams whose solutions are selected to advance to Final Testing. To be awarded sometime during Q3 2022 (specific date TBD).
  • Grand Prize: Awarded to the three teams whose solutions receive the highest scores following the final round of the competition.
    The first-place team will receive $7 million, second place will receive $2 million, and third place will receive $1 million. To be awarded sometime during Q1 2024 (specific date TBD).
  • Bonus Prize: $2 million awarded to the team that develops a whole-animal-origin-free growth media at the lowest production cost. To be awarded at the same time as the Grand Prize – sometime during Q1 2024 (specific date TBD).

The winning team will develop multiple consistent cuts of chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives (85-115 grams/3-4 ounces) that replicate the sensory properties, structure, versatility, and nutritional profile of conventional chicken or fish while having a lower environmental footprint.

Support for innovators

XPrize community lead Jordian Giali told NutritionInvestor that the organisation supports the competing teams in an operational capacity throughout the entire lifecycle of the competition. “We ensure that the competition is fair and that the guidelines and rules and regulations are clear and actionable,” he said.

While the organisation does not directly assist any of the teams with research, product development, manufacturing, or anything related to the actual production of their alternative protein products, XPrize does offer indirect support to the teams through the organisation’s partners.

“We also facilitate informational webinars and workshops, networking events, and discounts to various industry conferences that teams might find relevant to their work. Finalist teams also have the opportunity to join the XPRIZE Alumni Network – an exclusive group that receives support after the competition ends,” Giali explained.

Giali said the judging panel, a group of subject matter and technical experts, score the team submissions and make the final award determinations in both semifinal and the final testings.

XPrize partners

Giali said Xprize is seeking partners to join the challenge in five different categories:

  • Team recruitment: Help XPrize reach and recruit diverse teams from all over the world.
  • Amplification: raise awareness of our work by identifying or providing speaking invitations opportunities at industry events.
  • Team Success: offer software licenses, regulatory support, research resources, mentoring, or more to ensure team success.
  • Testing: provide specific resources that support the testing phase, such as test site hosting, data collection, equipment donations, etc.
  • Impact: Support the scale of the best solutions by helping with investments, regulatory approval, or market access. From 2022 onwards.

XPrize has already partnered with The Good Food Institute (GFI) and it will be lending its expertise throughout the competition as a dedicated ‘team success’ partner. GFI will also serve as a trusted advisor. 

A unique opportunity

There a number of reasons why a company or team would benefit from entering the competition, including:  

  • Technology verification
  • Access to internationally renowned testing grounds
  • Creating and expanding industries
  • Bringing experts and communities together
  • Media exposure
  • Fundraising opportunities and industry connections
  • Access to partner technologies
  • Join a global movement revolutionising food production
  • Finalist teams have the opportunity to join the XPPrize Alumni Network

Innovation to benefit humanity

The XPrize Foundation is based in Los Angeles, California. It operates multimillion-dollar competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity.

“The prize that really inspired us was the competition launched in 1919 to award whoever could fly a direct flight non-stop between York City and Paris,” said Kolta. “Lots of people tried it. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to accomplish this – and as a result, commercial aviation was born.”

The aviation competition inspired Xprize’s first initiative, the Ansari XPrize, a $10 million prize focused on commercial and private space exploration and space travel. The winning technology was purchased by Sir Richard Branson, starting what we know today as Virgin Galactic.

XPrize now works on prizes in equity, sustainability exploration on and off the planet. The Feed the Next Billion competition was set up to address three core issues of the current production methods of protein, particularly meat, chicken and fish.

XPrize is sponsored by Aspire, an entity of the government of Abu Dhabi, and its benefactor is the Tony Robbins Foundation. XPrize is also supported by a donor that has preferred to stay anonymous at this time.

Date published: 22 March 2021

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