ST. PAUL, MINN. — Startups may now join the University of Minnesota’s Plant Protein Innovation Center, which has added a new affiliate membership level for businesses with annual revenue of less than $2 million.

“With the evolvement of new companies innovating in the alternative protein space, we know it’s important that our resources are available to small businesses,” said Pam Ismail, director of the Plant Protein Innovation Center. “We are introducing this membership level with the idea that affiliate members would have access to our research and development expertise, and ample opportunities for networking and for growth.”

Established in 2018, the center brings together interdisciplinary researchers and industry partners to study and develop plant protein ingredients and products, from breeding and genetics to processing, formulation and marketing. Partners include ADM, Bay State Milling, Cargill, Conagra Brands, Danone, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg Co., Kraft Heinz Co., Ingredion, Roquette, Saputo and more. Associate members include Benson Hill, Motif FoodWorks, Nature’s Fynd, PepsiCo, Scoular, Sunopta, Johnsonville, and others. Supporters and collaborators include the Plant Based Food Association, The Good Food Institute, Schwan’s Co. and the University of Manitoba, among others.

For a membership fee of $3,000 per year, affiliate member companies will have access to research findings, workshops and training programs, and networking. Additional benefits include opportunities to contribute to research ideas, exhibit at events and interact with scientists of various disciplines.

“The plant protein space is still very young, with endless avenues for innovators,” said Christina Connelly, executive board member for the center. “Although large agribusiness absolutely must be at the table to provide leadership and expertise, we also need entrepreneurs and small companies who add agility and fresh ideas.”

Companies with annual revenue between $2 million and $5 million may join at the associate membership level for a yearly fee of $6,000. Companies with annual revenue of $5 million to $100 million may join as partner members for a yearly fee of $20,000. The fee for companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue is $40,000. Learn more at