A conversation with Dan Fitzgerald, founder and managing partner Regen Ventures on investing in regenerative technology by putting nature first, the role of technology, biomimicry, and cellular agriculture in regeneration.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
Can we apply the principles of regenerative agriculture (diversity, we are part of nature, learn from nature and the focus on life etc.) to technology and what would this regenerative technology look like beyond food and agriculture? Also, can we apply these principles to more touchy subjects like cellular ag and plant based proteins?
Unpacking Regenerative Technology
Over time, companies practicing biomimicry emerged. Many want to find resources that are sustainable but not harmful for nature. In this process, technology plays a huge role, and it has solidified its footprint in the regenerative transition. One example of ‘regenerative technology’ is the extraction of collagen from food waste and its use to form an alternative to leather. In this process, so many sides have benefitted—less to no animals were harmed, workers have become less exposed to toxic materials, carbon emission from actual leather production was reduced, and cost of production significantly decreased.
“The quote of our thesis is backing these companies that are going way beyond sustainability and directly improving the health of people on the planet.” – Dan Fitzgerald
Cellular Agriculture Explained
Dan believes that cellular agriculture could possibly redefine meat, and it is one of the most regenerative practices to produce tasty plant-based meat. Cellular agriculture is the process of duplicating a biopsy taken from a live animal and letting its cells grow in a petri dish. During the process, fats are added for flavour. While many are still skeptical of this process, Dan notes that this process is as humane as it can be—as no animal is ever harmed.
“Our passion is taking 4.6 billion years of evolution and taking all of that learning and applying our own human ingenuity and on top of that, to create products that are regenerative by nature.” – Dan Fitzgerald
On Nutrient Density
There are still questions regarding the nutrient component of meat produced by cellular agriculture because there’s not enough data that compares it to actual meat. There are also unanswered questions if this process has some “unintended consequences” not only to human health but also to the environment. There’s still a long way to go for cellular agriculture to be considered “regenerative across the whole system”.
“We want these truly transformative catalytic system change companies that can redefine their categories and regenerative for the people and the planet.” – Dan Fitzgerald
Collaboration is Key
ReGen Ventures is very careful in filtering companies they will invest in, as they choose those with the same aspirations. In general they look for three things: operating within the principles of science, technology, and engineering, having a good consumer reach and demand, and lastly, having talented people that can dedicate their time and effort in regeneration. There has to be a collaboration among important stakeholders (academics, tech experts, investors, etc.) to succeed in regeneration.
“Whether it’s accelerators, universities and other funds, we need hundreds of trillions of dollars to flow into space if we’re going to solve these existential challenges.” – Dan Fitzgerald
Other Points Discussed
Koen and Dan also talked about the following:
- Seaweeds as a much better alternative to remove carbon
- Biodiversity needs attention
- People should be closer to nature to realise its worth.
- There should be a global platform of funds for regeneration
To know more about Dan Fitzgerald and ReGen Ventures, download and listen to this episode.
- Regen Ventures
- Eric Toensmeier carbon farming solution
- Pale Blue Dot Ventures
- 2150 Fund
- Seaweed Sinking carbon
- Ecology of Wisdom book
- Why Rose Macario, ex CEO Patagonia, next act is fake meat
- Sequoia Capital evergreen
- Australian cellular ag company Vow Foods
- Interview Trailhead Capital – Tripp Wall on why provenance is key and time kills food
- Interview Trailhead Capital – Mark Lewis, hunting for unicorns in regenerative agriculture and food
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.