Panel: 2021 - a Pivotal Year for Food and Nutrition Innovation

Panel: 2021 - a Pivotal Year for Food and Nutrition Innovation

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Event Introduction

2020 will go down as a pivotal year in many respects. The year of the pandemic saw locked-down populations reconnect with cooking, focusing on nutrition, and showing increased interest in foods -- both existing and future -- that offer immunity. At the same time, the food industry accelerated innovation across the board. The Good Food Institute reports US$3.1 billion in investments in alternative protein companies last year -- 3 times the amount invested in 2019 and more than half the total this past decade. In December 2020, Singapore became the first country to allow the sale of cultivated meat. These are indeed exciting times for not just the food industry, but also consumers. Concurrently, due to shortages, there is a global focus on supply chain fractures, the benefits of increased local production, and the role of innovation in ensuring food security. We have clearly seen the best and the worst of times.

Against this background and as conditions improve, 2021 could prove to be a pivotal year for many countries and organisations. Many organisations continue to recalibrate what they do in the new normal and plan for the years ahead. Whilst understanding and taking into account the rise of new and novel foods, developing agile and sustainable supply chains, and placing an increased focus on immunity, we must remember to keep nutrition at the centre of all discussions on the future of food.

Join our panelists as they discuss how collaboration through ecosystems like Bright Science Hub can connect organisations to better understand the opportunities in the future food systems, and importantly discover new, innovative and scalable technologies. This is also a good opportunity for startups to learn more about what expertise and infrastructure Royal DSM can offer to co-create better solutions in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living.

Anand Sundaresan, Vice-President (APAC), DSM

As the Vice President for DSM Human Nutrition & Health division in Asia Pacific, Anand builds and connects markets across the region and create new business. His team is dedicated to improving nutrition and health in the region, with a focus on advocating for and developing solutions across the early life nutrition, personalised nutrition and supplementation space to keep the world’s growing population healthy.

He and his team tackle some of the biggest challenges faced in Asia Pacific, including nutrition deficiency and malnutrition, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and advocate for healthy ageing. With DSM’s extensive footprint in Asia, his team is well-placed to serve some of the most vulnerable communities in the region as we provide tailored solutions according to the various market’s needs.

Barbara Guerpillon, Global Head of Dole Ventures

Barbara is passionate about innovation and collaborative culture, and she works at the intersection of corporate innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

For the last 15 years, Barbara has developed an exhaustive understanding of disruptive technologies, digital environments, and their commercial applications. A respected driver of innovation, Barbara has a track record of building successful collaboration between start-ups and corporate, engaging with tech communities, accelerators, and VCs, as well as building meaningful ecosystem relationships to accelerate growth. Prior to her role at Dole, Barbara built and led for 5 years Unilever Foundry, Unilever’s platform for start-ups engagement, which she then transformed into a cross-functional technology discovery platform, while designing and managing internal and external innovation networks.

A mentor for start-ups, Barbara speaks regularly on corporate innovation and the importance of inspiring entrepreneurial spirit within companies.

Anna Lam, Co-Founder of Crunch Cutlery

Crunch Cutlery is the first startup to address the problems of plastic waste and poor urban nutrition with a single product. Their solution is to supercharge a functional “biscuit” with superfoods such as flax, chia and whole wheat for a boost of Omega 3, Vitamin B3, Lignans and Fibre with every bite.

Importantly, their mission is to encourage people to use our product as functional cutleries and eat it after use so that nothing goes to waste!

They are currently fortifying their product (with more nutrition), leveraging Royal DSM's technical expertise and laboratories through Bright Science Hub.


  • Changing consumer trends: With more readily available data and more time spent at home, consumers are leading their own health awareness, education on sustainable options and have more time to be intentional with their nutrition. Nutritional product manufacturers are also responding to increased consumer demand for immunity-boosting and plant-based products.
  • Nutrition: Beyond increasing nutritional content, the delivery format (foods or supplements) is also key.   At the same time, nutritious food still has to be tasty, while being customised to the Asian palate. Product development aside, it is also critical to educate children -the next generation of consumers- about the importance of nutrition.
  • Emerging and promising technologies: Sugar reduction and sugar replacement technologies are of great interest, though an ideal solution has yet to be found. Personalised nutrition, digital coaching and health tracking is rising in popularity as data becomes more readily available to consumers. However, such technologies require mass adoption before it becomes more accessible to consumers in emerging economies.
  • Startup-corporate partnerships: The panelists advised startups to look beyond a corporate's brand name and identify synergistic and engaged corporates. Jointly defining success metrics right from the onset will accelerate pilots and product co-development.

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