07 Oct 2019
“Initially, they were sceptical like any other industry would be when two female Asian scientists quit their well-paid jobs to start a company on a crazy idea”
Singapore-based Shiok Meats, has developed pioneering technology to grow ‘clean’ shrimp meat. Co-founded by Sandhya Sriram the company has an impressive range of backers including the CEO of Monde Nissin (owner of Quorn).
At a Summit session celebrating the innovators and disruptors making a difference to the food sector Sandhya will explain how a ‘crazy idea’ is now worth millions.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I'm originally a stem cell scientist with more than ten years of experience working with muscle, adipose, cells and stem cells. After graduating with a PhD from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, I studied for my postdoc at A*STAR in Singapore.
After four years of postdoctoral work, I took up business development at a research institute, and I co-founded two companies, Biotech in Asia and SciGlo.
Now I'm the CEO and co-founder of Shiok Meats Pte. Ltd., Singapore, which grows crustacean meat by employing cellular agriculture.
What was your inspiration to create Shiok? Science, conservation, business or a bit of everything?
My skill for science/biotech and love for food. Having been a scientist for over a decade and then transitioning into business and entrepreneurship has made me find my purpose - to build a company that works on sustainability.
How has the industry reacted to your idea?
Honestly, they love it now, although initially, they were sceptical like any other industry would be when two female Asian scientists quit their well-paid jobs to start a company on a crazy idea - now that we have proven ourselves, they are fascinated, surprised and big supporters.
Potentially your business could have a huge economic impact on the hundreds of thousands of people employed in the global shrimp industry - have you considered that?
Our business model is hybrid - we will manufacture the cell-based seafood products, but we want to empower and enable other shrimp companies/farmers with our technology by licensing it out so that they can grow shrimp meats the way we do! This way, we are not putting anyone out of a livelihood.
Where do you see the business developing?
Asia-Pacific. 60% of the world's population lives here, and that is our target market.
How important is it for innovators such as yourself to be part of an event like Food Matters Summit?
I have always been a strong believer in networking and gaining exposure. Most of what I am today is due to networking and attending events such as Food Matters Summit - so it is very important.