Exploring the role of investors in the alternative ‘meat’ transition
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One of society’s greatest challenges for future sustainable development is how to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050 while simultaneously achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and staying within the planetary boundaries. This requires an urgent transformation of current global food systems. Livestock production makes up a significant amount of current environmental, health and animal welfare impacts, and its transformation offers important sustainability gains. Alternative ‘meat’ products offer an innovation path with the potential to disrupt the current meat industry and transition it to a sustainable state. Investments are important to finance such a transition, and thus investors can play an important role in enabling or disabling the transition through their position as a dominant regime actor interacting with niche innovations in the transition. This thesis combines the multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions, power and transition intermediary theory to explore the power and role of investors in the alternative ‘meat’ transition, focusing on the case of the German alternative ‘meat’ investment space. Through investor interviews and document analysis, the results reveal that early-stage investors invest in alternative ‘meat’ to achieve environmental and social goals, while later- stage investors aim for economic and financial goals. Further, all investors not only mobilise financial capital, but also mental and human resources, with some mobilising artifactual resources. Regarding power exercise of investors, the thesis finds that different types of investors exercise different types of power along the alternative ‘meat’ niche’s financing cycle. Investors in earlier stages of the transition exercise innovative and transformative power, while investors in later stages exercise transformative and reinforcive power. Most of this power exercise by investors is is passively done through enabling start-ups to create new resources and infrastructure. It is also found that investors exhibit some intermediary functions, most importantly networking and knowledge and learning in connecting niche and regime actors in the alternative ‘meat’ space. To support the alternative ‘meat’ transition, investors can utilise their resources as investors as strengths as well as create investors networks and alliances to strengthen their power position in the alternative ‘meat’ market and policymaking space. Legislation that crafts a comprehensive policy framework for supporting alternative ‘meat’ as well as establishes guidelines for environmental and social investment guidelines will support an inflow of investment in sustainable investments such as alternative ‘meat’.