The Alt Protein Project, a global student movement dedicated to transforming universities into engines for alternative protein education, research, and innovation, has now come to India with the launch of Delhi Smart Protein Project (DSPP) at Delhi University by Good Food Institute India (GFI India), convening body in the Indian ‘alternative protein’ or ‘smart protein’ sector.
The smart protein sector is at the forefront of global food innovation, with companies making alt protein foods – plant-based meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood, for example – that taste the same or better and cost the same or less than their animal-derived counterparts, with vastly lower impacts on planetary and public health.
While the Delhi Smart Protein Project has been established by students of the University of Delhi (DU), the project aims to branch out into a secretariat format involving institutes of prominence in and around Delhi such as the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi) and the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM). Situated in India’s capital, the DSPP has access to the best resources and talent required for the smart protein sector. Its close proximity to institutes such as the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IIT, and National Law University, Delhi will support building a robust alt protein ecosystem in the national capital. Armaan Dhanda, Palak Khanna, Samarth Bhatnagar, and Kartik Chauhan – all DU students have assumed leadership positions for the city-wide DSPP and are co-organizers of the project, with leadership support and guidance from GFI India.
Introducing the project, Devika Suresh, Innovation Associate, GFI India said, “Indian talent powers the global smart protein sector just as it does other strategically important industries, and we’re delighted to continue seeding the talent and research landscape through the Delhi Smart Protein Project. These student leaders will strengthen the ecosystem of education, incubation, and technology transfer in smart protein, and be propelled forward as the drivers of a more secure, sustainable, and just future of food.”
The DSPP aims to advance initiatives under the following four-point goals:
- Build a dedicated talent pipeline for the smart protein space by pushing for coursework at universities
- Promote scientific research in critical whitespace areas and build infrastructure capacity for this at university ecosystems
- Facilitate industry-academia collaboration leading to increased tech transfer, commercialization, and venture creation
- Grow an active community of student leaders to raise awareness and generate discourse around smart protein
The DSPP is currently advancing their strategic planning for 2023, with a focus on expanding to other priority universities in Delhi-NCR, developing curriculum for the world’s first ‘Smart Protein Digital Lab’ (GFI India’s curated Massive Open Online Course for smart protein, developed for the India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge), introducing smart protein as a concept to schools across the national capital, piloting a global alternative seafood course by working with other global Alt Protein Project chapters, and organizing in-person events convening industry, academia, and government by hosting dedicated smart protein events at college fests and a parliamentarian dinner to advance policy support for the smart protein sector.
Since its inception in 2020, the Alt Protein Project has worked to center students in food systems conversations across the globe and has expanded to a total of 36 chapters across 17 countries and 5 continents, with chapters at Stanford, NYU, Duke, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, Tufts, Berkeley, Cornell, Oxford, Cambridge, KU Leuven, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Wageningen University, Technische Universität Berlin, Tel Aviv University, The University of Nigeria Nsukka, the University of Melbourne, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technical University, and others. Now, Delhi University chapter joins these prestigious ranks.