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New Global Incubator Programme-Gateway to Asia for agrifood innovators


The Global Incubator Programme, a gateway for UK agrifood innovators to scale into Asia remotely, has just opened for applications.

In summary:

  • Global Incubator Programme - Gateway to Asia is a virtually-delivered program that supports UK ag, food & beverage innovators in expanding to Asia, with an initial focus on ASEAN markets, at a time when Covid-19 continues to restrict business travel
  • Developed by Innovate UK and GROW, the Singapore-based agrifoodtech ecosystem catalyst 
  • Open to UK companies working in controlled environment agriculture, sustainable food production, alt-protein, functional ingredients, food traceability, and food waste reduction, among others

In a commitment to help UK ag, food, and beverage innovators expand into Asia, Innovate UK and GROW have partnered to launch the Global Incubator Programme - Gateway to Asia with the support of Innovate UK EDGE.

This collaboration forms a direct link between the UK and Singapore, providing market-specific internationalization assistance to raise the profile of UK food and agriculture innovation among food manufacturers, agribusinesses, and investors in Southeast Asia.

The 20-week program is integrated with GROW’s Land x Launch™ platform, which plugs companies into the local agrifoodtech ecosystem in Asia and connects founders from around the world. Through the program, UK entrepreneurs will be able to capitalize on GROW’s extensive partner network throughout the region.

Asia is expected to be home to 5 billion people by 2050, accounting for 60% of global food consumption. To meet this demand, governments across Southeast Asia are aggressively pursuing strategies to ensure greater food security. This includes active support for agrifood entrepreneurs who can help grow the local ecosystem by establishing themselves in the region. 

This programme is designed for the ‘next normal’ of Covid-19. Delivered virtually, it will start in the UK to help selected companies validate their market fit and co-develop a roadmap to establish their in-market presence. Recognizing the uncertainties of travel, the program offers a variety of options to allow companies to grow their team and presence in Asia - physically or remotely. It will include access to GROW’s extensive regional and international networks of mentors and experts, research partners, and corporate customers.

Her Excellency Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore, said: “Congratulations to Innovate UK and GROW on the launch of this Global Incubator Programme - the first between the UK and Singapore, and another collaboration under our SG-UK Partnership for the Future. This programme connects our agrifood innovation ecosystems more closely at a time when the world is facing unprecedented global disruptions prompted by issues such as the pandemic and climate change. Our innovators will be supported to work on issues such as food security and sustainability, where the applications could benefit not just our own two countries but the entire world. Just as the UK’s new national Innovation Strategy intends, this innovation collaboration is designed to really push the boundaries in R&D for transformational technologies that can help us all build back better.”
Joshua Soo, CEO, GROW, added: “Our mission at GROW is to be the gateway to Asia for international scaleups. Entering into a new market is never easy and you need trusted partners. We want to be that to founders, and help their solutions make a positive impact to producers and consumers in the diverse Asia markets.” 

UK companies which see opportunities abroad face challenges in the fragmentation and complexity of Asian markets, amplified by the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions on business travel. The Global Incubator Programme - Gateway to Asia overcomes these hurdles by filling the knowledge gap and providing on-the-ground support in Asia. This allows UK companies to gain traction internationally while building their businesses remotely from the UK.

David Golding, Head of Global Innovation Partnerships, Innovate UK said: “Innovate UK is really pleased to be launching its Global Incubator Programme in Singapore, working in partnership with GROW. Through the Programme, funded by Innovate UK, we are looking to help innovative UK businesses to grow and scale globally. We look forward to seeing the first cohort of UK businesses participate in the Programme in what is such a dynamic and vibrant market and the gateway to Asia.”

Applications to the Global Incubator Programme - Gateway to Asia are open until 12 September 2021. Interested companies can find more details and apply here.

This Global Incubator Programme focusing on agrifood in Singapore is a four-stage programme, including preparation workshops a (virtual) market visit, (virtual) incubation and subsequent exploitation of the programme. Key elements include:

Understanding Asia (2 weeks)

•    A series of virtual workshops to elaborate on the benefits and opportunities of trading in the region using Singapore as a gateway.  Participants will undertake a process to start thinking about the ASEAN region and the nuances that exist in these markets.

Goal Setting & Testing the Opportunity  (6 weeks)

•    Masterclasses, interactive workshops, on-line resources and one-on-one coaching focused on building roadmaps for product development & adaptation to Asian market; in-market customer validation; legal and regulatory requirements to establish a business in the region.

Scaling in Asia and Securing Opportunities (7 weeks) 

•    One-on-one coaching, mentoring and expert sessions focused on: go-to-market strategy; value chain optimisation; customer acquisition; local partnerships; sales & marketing; and raising capital.  Includes introductions to partners, customers, investors, corporates and service providers and participation in pitch events.

Launching into Asia (5 weeks)

•    Individual, tailored support to build a local team and establish business structures. COVID permitting, it is anticipated that this phase will include in-person visits by the participants.  However, if this is not possible, the GROW team can provide appropriate in-country support.

Applications to this Global Incubator Programme - Gateway to Asia are open until 12 September 2021. Interested companies can find more details and apply at

Media contact:
Jens Böhm

About Innovate UK:
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. It connects businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn these ideas into commercially successful products and services, and business growth.

About Innovate UK EDGE:
Innovate UK EDGE is the UK innovation agency’s business growth and scaling service. Our bespoke, funded support empowers innovation-driven businesses to grow at pace, reach scale and deliver on their industry and society-transforming ambitions. 

About GROW:
Located in Singapore, GROW is an ecosystem catalyst advancing innovation, sustainability, and resilience in the food system. We’re on a mission to inspire and accelerate extraordinary founders who are developing technology solutions that deliver positive impact for people, place, and planet. Through our fund and accelerator programs we work with startups to supercharge their growth on the global stage. GROW is supported by Enterprise Singapore and backed by leading agrifoodtech VC AgFunder.

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