Alternative Protein Experts


Lever China Alternative Protein Fund’s team are early investors in leading western plant-based meat, egg and dairy companies including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, JUST, and Miyoko’s Kitchen, as well as early investors in leading cultivated (cell-based) meat and dairy companies in Asia and the west, including Memphis Meats, Avant and Turtle Tree Labs. They were the first investors outside of mainland China to invest in Chinese plant-based and cultivated animal protein startups.

The team also has deep experience investing in the traditional animal protein space in China, with over 3 billion RMB invested in leading dairy and meat producers including WH Group.

Our unique expertise and networks, combined with the reach and networks of our official partners, provides the Lever China Alternative Protein Fund with the ability to add tremendous value to our portfolio companies and help them become category leaders in the alternative protein sector.

Lever China Alternative Protein Fund Team

Nick Cooney has been investing in the alternative protein space for five years and working in it for over 15. He is co-founder of New Crop Capital and the Good Food Institute, was an early investor in companies including Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, Avant and Turtle Tree Labs, and is an advisor to the China Plant-Based Foods Alliance.

Lawrence Chu is Founder and Chairman of BlackPine Private Equity, and has deployed over $1.5 billion USD in the VC and PE sectors. He has been investing in the alternative protein sector for six years, including early investments in Impossible Foods, JUST, Beyond Meat, Avant and Turtle Tree Labs, and was a major investor in leading conventional meat company WH Group.

Julian Ting is Vice President at Lever VC, and previously worked at HSBC, Baring Private Equity Asia and Grange Partners. He has been investing in the alternative protein space for three years, and sits on the board of Beijing plant-based dairy brand Marvelous Foods. He holds an MBA from Columbia University and an LLB from London School of Economics.

Lily Chen has been working in the plant-based foods space for four years. She holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Hong Kong. She works with alternative protein startups and leading food companies around the country as Program Manager with Lever Foods, and is based in Shanghai.

Linda Ma is a Senior Banker, Venture Investor & Consultant at Venture Smart Asia Ltd. She is a former Managing Director of UBP Bank and senior banker for ANZ China in the agriculture and food sectors, in addition to senior roles at Citi Group, Standard Chartered Bank and Societe General. She is a graduate of Macquarie University and Visiting Scholar of Columbia University.

Benny Pei is a partner of Lever VC and Chief Investment Officer at DFP Capital in Hong Kong, an investor in well-known consumer brands including 百果园, 奈雪的茶, 茶颜悦色, 钟薛高, and 三顿半咖啡. He has more than ten years experience as a director and manager at publicly listed companies in China. Benny also an adjunct professor at Shantou University, teaching leadership and product innovation.

Sam Gao is a consultant to DFP Capital and research director at TopGuide Advisory who specializes in research and consulting in the fields of alternative protein and the baking sector. Sam previously worked for Rabobank, Mintel, Euromonitor and Xinhua News Agency, and is a contributor to Food Pacific magazine.

Ulric Leung is Vice Chair of Venture Smart Asia. He is a former Director at Deutsche Bank (Hong Kong) and a former Managing Director at Crosby Securities. He has been investing in the alternative protein space for two years, including investments in Better Meat Co, Bond Pet Foods and Marvelous Foods.

Official Partners

COFCO is the country’s largest food processor, manufacturer and trader. COFCO Fund provides guidance for both domestic and foreign investment in the agri-business area. Its mission is in line with government policies of agriculture and healthy food, and COFCO’s strategic development plan.

Yili Group is the country’s largest dairy products producer. Yili Group’s Venture Capital Fund invests in the food and agriculture sector in line with the company’s strategic development plan.

China Plant-Based Foods Alliance is a national trade group that represents the plant-based and cell-cultivated food sector in China. CPBFA is a joint effort of the State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee (SFNCC) and the Advisory Committee on Nutrition Guidance (ACNG) of the China National Food Industry Association.

Givaudan is the world’s largest flavor and fragrance company, and a leader in sensory development for alternative protein products.

Peter Cremer Holdings is a major global materials and food group and alternative protein products manufacturer.

Nanjing National Modern Agricultural Industry Science and Technology Innovation Demonstration Park is the first national agricultural industrialization and technology innovation center in China.

Brinc is a global venture capital and accelerator platform that supports and mentor founders and their teams across the world. Brinc currently operates ten multi-disciplinary accelerator programs across six countries.

Lever Foods is a Shanghai-based company that provides consulting services to leading domestic and international food companies, startups and investors on the alternative protein sector

Venture Smart Financial Group is a Hong Kong SFC-licensed financial advisory that connects institutional and family office clients with investment opportunities.

Get in touch

If you are an entrepreneur or early stage company interested in applying for funding, or if you are interested in partnering with the Lever China Alternative Protein Fund to access deals and opportunities in the alternative protein space, please contact us through the form below. You can also reach us at: team (at)