“Southeast Asia: A Race to Go Sustainable” was a panel at the ORIGIN Conference featuring Ting Yan Leck, Managing Partner of TRIVE Ventures; Carrie Chan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Avant Meats; and Irwan Tjahaja, CEO of SWAP Energi. The panel was moderated by James Jung, CEO of beSUCCESS Media Group.

The panelists discussed sustainability issues and development across Southeast Asia. Avant Meat’s Chan and SWAP Energi’s Irwan explained how their startups can help to achieve sustainability goals while Ting, from Trive Ventures, gave examples on how the startups his firm invested in are driving sustainable innovation. He also gave his views from an investor’s point of view on sustainable investing.

The text below has been edited for clarity and brevity:

Carrie Chan, Co-Founder & CEO of Avant Meats:

We are Asia’s first cultivated fish company. We produce fish meat and can make the product without the need to catch or slaughter fish, using bio processes.

Cultivated meat technology is already a kind of proven technology concept in the West. We see Asia as a very big market. And seafood is one of the major, staple food in our cuisine. Around 60 to 70 percent of seafood produced globally, is actually consumed in Asia. Now that’s one side of the demand side.

On the supply side, traditionally, we are catching fish from the ocean. Overfishing is actually a major problem as 90 percent of marine ecosystem has already been exploited. Given the huge demand in Asia, we find a way to produce fish so that we do not overfish and at the same time offer a more efficient way of producing meat. It is also a cleaner way because we produce everything in a sterilized environment. So the consumer will also like it because when it comes to seafood, they are concerned about heavy metal and microplastic, which we won’t have [to deal with] with this technology.

There’s a lot of matching point. This is what we’re trying to achieve and in particular, for the Southeast Asian market.

Challenges: Affordability and scalability

Major challenges for our industry include affordability and scalability. The underlying science of cultivated meat is actually technology from pharmaceutical and medical applications. Previously, the doctor may be using tissue culturing and tissue engineering to treat patients, they can print cornea, they can print the skin, and things like that.

So when we start the R&D and start at work, not more than 10 years ago, the whole industry is still very young. We don’t have any choices but to go to the same equipment supplier, the same raw material supplier. These suppliers have been serving pharmaceutical companies. They actually have a very big margin, they are very used to gross margin 40 to 50 percent. So for us, they will not differentiate, they sell us the same thing. So that makes the thing very expensive.

​​We are targeting and looking at 2026 [to launch], Around that time, where our production costs will be very close to premium grade of conventional fish fillets in the market.

Before that, we will go to market with a bit more premium product. the same cell working on different thing but different product, can sell at different price, while the production costs will be similar. So we started off by selling something like fish maw, which is quite expensive as a conventional version. We will use our technology to produce a marine peptide that can be used in skincare products. So those are more premium products that can actually go to market earlier.

The scalability question – a lot of a company in this space, we have already done a lot of cost reduction and R&D. We are scaling up and at the same time we are building factories. Anything involving a physical property, it does take time to get government’s approval. Regarding the scalability part, indeed, we need to be patient. We will be seeing more and more companies that will have the capacity to produce commercially in the next two to three years, including ourselves which we are building our pilot facility in Singapore.

Irwan Tjahaja, CEO of SWAP Energi:

As for today, we are still focusing on Indonesia. Indonesia has 130 million units of internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles. Are people were people starting to use electric motorcycles? Before Swap Energi, there were a very little number of people using electric motorcycles or electric bikes. So they do home charging and it’s very inconvenient.

The challenge for the growth of the adoption of electric motorcycles in Indonesia was the range anxiety caused by the limited size of the batteries. In order for users to replace their ICE motorcycles, it has to be as convenient as ICE motorcycles which will also benefit them in terms of cost reduction.

So we created these battery swapping networks for electric motorcycles so that they can have access to the energy as easily, or even easier, simpler compared to the ICE motorcycle, because you have to queue for gasoline in Indonesia. So we have much shorter, less just a few seconds. So we also we in swap energy we have a sister company called “Smoot’ (electric motorcycle brand). We have a few 1000 units running on the street, we are partnering with Grab, one of the biggest ride-hailing in Southeast Asia.

So this is how we want to convert this captive market. With such a huge population of ICE motorcycles, 130 million, if we can convert like 20 percent of it, it will be a great achievement. So much less carbon dioxide will be released into the air. Now we have a lot of people very keen to convert the ICE motorcycle into an electric motorcycle with our battery swapping system.

Ting Yan Leck, Managing Partner of TRIVE Ventures:

Under the umbrella of sustainability, we look at the impact, which is often outcome-driven. I can give you three examples. The first company we have is AgriMax. It’s an agri biotech company. It increases crop yields anywhere from 20 to 60 percent. So that covers the “agri” part of what we’re looking at in terms of food security.

Another company that happens to be here at the conference. Hegg, they’re actually a reformulation company under Hoow Foods that removed, lower GI, remove sodium, and remove fat, keeping taste and texture the same. So recently, they spun out a plant-based powder eggless egg called Hegg where it’s zero cholesterol and it’s better for health.

The idea here is the more you sell, the more money you make, the more you sell, the more impact you create.

Then lastly, it’s a coding school that we invested in Vietnam coding school, Coder School. Our students or alumni now have amazing global careers. the best example is one student that graduated and is Vietnamese, is now working at Facebook. It’s about opening opportunities, leveling the global playing field for talent. These are some of the areas of impact that we’re very concerned with.

A note of caution for sustainability startups

– I will caution, branding yourself as a sustainability startup or branding yourself as a impact startup or in ESG company. that’s because there is a natural negative connotation with that. There’s an assumption that you don’t make as much money. So you want to bring yourself forward as “Hey, we are creating a lot of value, we’re capturing a lot of their value as revenue. At the same time, we’re doing some good, but like, we are for profit, ‘insane upside’ company”. And that puts you in a position to better negotiate, and also attract non-impact, non-sustainability investors. Then they would also want to invest in you, you get more, and you open up your pool of investors beyond what the category calls for.



Since 2020, BEYOND Expo has been held twice with great success. It has become one of the largest and most influential international technology expositions in Asia, attracting 800+ exhibitors and 55,000+ attendees worldwide. More than 150 industry forums featuring 500+ innovative business leaders as speakers will provide a global platform for insightful technology exchange.

BEYOND has officially announced that “Technology Redefined” is the theme for BEYOND Expo 2023, which was hosted in Macao from May 10 to 12. BEYOND Expo 2023 reached a new high in terms of scale, attendee influence, diversity of industries, companies, number of exhibitors, and overseas visitors. There were more than 100 events and networking sessions. We have connected with global tech innovation enthusiasts and facilitating in-depth interaction in all fields, including enterprise, product, capital, and industry to promote the global tech scene in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

For more cooperation, please contact us at:

Business Partnerships: [email protected]

Media Partnerships: [email protected]

Other Inquiries: [email protected]