The Lux List / Finance

Sayris Capital: A Leader in Sustainability Investment

Get to know Asia’s leading private investment firm in the area of sustainable food and medicine technology.

Oct 04, 2021 | By Terence Ruis
sayris interview
Image: Anil T Prabhakar

Sayris Capital, established in 2019 in Singapore, is Asia’s leading private investment firm, which focuses on driving a sustainable global Food & Medicine ecosystem. It was founded by a group of sustainability enthusiasts, keen on establishing a thematic and operational approach to sustainability investment. 

At the risk of oversimplification, Sayris Capital’s goal is to bring forward the fourth industrial revolution and empower individuals and businesses to revolutionize the future of food, health, and healthcare with climate-conscious solutions. Its co-founders, Daniel Rajesh and Haryanto Soemito, are both entrepreneurs, investment veterans and sustainability thought leaders. 

Daniel has held multiple leadership positions in his career, including stints at Procter & Gamble and Autodesk.  He is also an active proponent for climate action, speaking at multiple sustainability investment and life sciences events around the world.  Meanwhile, Haryanto brings to the table over a decade’s worth of investment venture building experience. He was previously a venture partner of a boutique Greentech venture capital in Indonesia, focusing on smart city solutions. His commitment to climate action began after losing his mother and best friend to cancer. It was a turning point in his life that shifted his mandate to improving the food and medical ecosystem for the current and future generations.

To find out a little more about the work Sayris Capital is doing, we caught up with  Daniel and Haryanto for a quick chat. Here, they shed light on the company’s mission and how they’re setting about it.

Sayris Capital Interview
Daniel Rajesh. Image: Sayris Capital

Can you tell us about Sayris Capital and the structure of the funds you are managing?

Sayris Capital was incorporated in British Virgin Island, regulated by UK law, and formed from a deep insight into climate change and environmental challenges that humanity is facing today. Prior to Sayris, we [Daniel and Haryanto] were building solar farms across South East Asia while understanding the economics of renewable energy. Our collective insight on environmental awareness in the space and the nurtured investor and government relationships led us to build Sayris.

Sayris was inspired by the Greek Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres, to empower climate action through capital and innovation, starting by solving one global crisis at a time. In this journey, we have discovered numerous lucrative impact investment options for investors while contributing positively to people and the planet.

The fund structure Sayris chose is the Hong Kong Limited Partnership Fund (LPF), arguably the most attractive fund structure recently launched less than a year ago. LPF features domicile flexibility and legal protections that are comparable to those found in other jurisdictions, such as Delaware and the Cayman Islands.

While the fund’s focus is on Agritech,  we have deep-dived into the alternative protein and plant-based sector that has shown significant impact on the climate with impressive returns from our track records.

What are the key propositions of Sayris Capital? How innovative is your vision in the agriculture & medical fields?

Our aim is to be one of the first ESG-compliant plant-based Agritech and Medtech investment companies in the Asia-Pacific region. We are tackling global critical problems such as deforestation, irresponsible animal agriculture, food supply crisis & opioid crisis with simple climate-conscious, nature-based solutions.

Innovation is in our DNA. With our investments, we empower tech-led companies that conduct deep research & development on sustainable products and solutions. We also focus on investments in sustainable products and solutions offered that embrace carbon neutral/negative concepts.

Sayris Capital Interview
Haryanto Soemito. Image: Sayris Capital

You are persistent about the prospects of AgriTech & MedTech, which numbers and research papers would you say sustain your vision?

By 2050, the world’s population will reach an estimated 10 billion people. The new generation of consumers will need to be climate-friendly with healthy and sustainable diets. Alternative proteins are gaining popularity and becoming mainstream, with high retention rates. Plant-based and alternative proteins are becoming more cost-effective than animal meat as a result of technological advancements.

We have seen the likes of Credit Suisse, Bloomberg Intelligence, and more backing the prospects of this field. According to Credit Suisse, the size of the alternative meat and dairy market is estimated to reach USD $1.4 trillion by 2050, given the current growth rate. Similarly, Bloomberg Intelligence in their report “Plant-Based Foods Poised for Explosive Growth” predicts the market to soar to USD $162 billion by 2030. We have seen AgriTech startups raise USD $30 billion in funding in 2020 and USD $24 billion in just the 1st half of 2021 which is a testament to the year-on-year growth potential the market expects from this space.

While the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the food production and supply chain, there has been a paradigm shift in consumption habits away from traditionally consumed meat and towards plant-based alternative proteins. We saw retail sales of meat alternatives in APAC rise to an estimated USD $1 billion in 2020, with 83 per cent of consumers identifying protein as the most important ingredient in any meal. The innovations in the field of alternative proteins are very promising and the market trends that we are seeing today are backed by strong research data. This, thereby, reinforces our vision for Sayris Capital.

Sayris Capital Interview
Hatyanto Soemito. Image: Sayris Capital

You state “The goal is to be able to invest in companies that provide sustainable products and solutions that help in generating income for investors while adding value to the society as a whole”, tell us more about the concept of Impact Investing?

Our framework for the evaluation of a sustainable company goes through a rigorous due diligence process. Basic environmental health & safety, natural resource preservation and management, social issues, and corporate governance standards must be met. Other metrics include diversity in management teams, sustainable vendor strategies, and proactive investment of resources into R&D. 

We also evaluate planet-specific impact GP metrics such as carbon footprint, green elements of a company’s business model, GHG estimates, water use, and carbon emission reduction. People-specific impact metrics will include the number of patients treated, job creation, and employability. There is no shortcut in these evaluations. A holistic approach is needed to empower the companies that align with our principles and values.

How do you define “Sustainability”? How innovative are the vision and the measurement tools you have put in place?

Sustainability starts from the individual and extends further to family and business or work. We start with actions as simple as recycling, reusing, or upcycling existing products, the conscientious purchasing of environmentally friendly products, and consuming sustainably sourced food.

Regarding our innovative vision, we recently mandated that the LFCA-initiated “Sustainability Clause” will be incorporated into both default term sheets and shareholder agreements to analyse carbon emissions and ESG strategies that align with the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). This is a public pledge to include ESG factors in investment decision-making and active ownership. 

Some examples of metrics are social or green elements of business models, job creation, workers’ welfare and safety, and water use.

Through our fund admin, we incorporated measurement tools, such as SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation), to measure our ESG metrics and ensure responsible ESG reporting to avoid greenwashing.

Tell us more about your interest in plant-based techniques and for some of the most innovative start-ups growing fast across the globe?

Precision Fermentation is one of our areas of interest. It uses microbial hosts as “factories” where cells can manufacture precise chemicals to improve the sensory and functional attributes of plant-based or cell-based goods. This method is used to manufacture Impossible Foods’ heme protein, which is the component that gives its plant-based burgers their famous iron-rich texture.

While Precision Fermentation may appear to be a novel technique, it has been around for quite some time. Previously, rennet from a calf’s stomach was required to curdle milk for dairy cheese production by separating the whey from casein, but animal rights activists put pressure on manufacturers to avoid animal cruelty.

At the same time, animal rennet became more expensive. Scientists subsequently used Precision Fermentation technology to synthesise rennet in microorganisms, resulting in the development of non-animal rennet. In terms of medicines, insulin for diabetes was previously extracted from the stomachs of pigs, but through Precision Fermentation, it was safely synthesised without causing animal suffering.

Fermentation, according to global alternative protein specialists and food industry stakeholders, is “critical” to the advancement of alternative protein solutions in the face of climate change, increased food shortages, supply chain disruptions, and health problems. 

Sayris Capital Interview
Image: Sayris Capital

Sayris Capital is led by grounded and experienced founders, does that make you stand out from other investment firms in Southeast Asia?

We have a unique team, which has over 50 years of experience in capital markets, consumer goods, and food supply chain. Our access to capital and deal flow is across the globe, from San Francisco to Israel and Singapore. 

Our decision-making process is a strategy that blends both financial and global insights with industry, brands, and data through a wide network of Public Listed companies. In addition, our data analytics helps us stand out from the regional players. We are a highly specialised fund with strategic business development and geographical expansion value-add for our partners. 

How strong is your team of advisers? How do you select projects in which you invest?

We have an excellent team of advisors with over 50 years’ worth of expertise collectively in capital markets, AgriTech and Medtech. This enables us to source for deals effectively across the globe with support with clarity to support our vision.

Our team of advisors includes Carol Pepper who leads Pepper International and Yip Hon Mun, who is a private investor and CIO of Noroo Holdings Singapore. Both have extensive experience in the wealth and private client asset management industry and are active investors and advisors in the alternative protein space.

Regarding project selection, we have a rigorous process of deal sourcing, selection, value creation, and exit strategy before we choose our investee companies. The breadth of our deal sourcing comes from a global network of syndicates, accelerators and business networks in partnership with fund managers in the industry gives us access to over 1000s of deals filtered to qualified 20 companies to capital placements. 

How would you define your investor network? How successful have you been at fundraisings? What kind of family offices and private investors should approach you?

We have access to investors from Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, San Francisco, and New York predominantly. In the past year, we have raised over USD25 million to be deployed in the alternative protein space. Following our initial thesis, we are launching this fund with more of the same deals and growing with the ecosystem as investors have seen over 85% uplift in value within the year. 

An ideal investor for us would be one that is an enlightened investor with a passion to multiply assets on  ESG compliant planet- and people-based investments. We are on the hunt for a sophisticated investor or one that is seeking to be more sophisticated in their investment approach as our exclusive deal flows are available only to partners who have similar principles or long-term growth strategies with the emerging climate-conscious companies.

You are now raising more funds from investors. Where do you see Sayris Capital in three years?

We envision ourselves as one of the leading climate action funds in Asia with focus areas in Alternative Protein, the Carbon Credits market, and Botanical Wellness. 

We are constantly in conversation with policymakers globally to enable innovation and technology to bring wellness to our communities. We are committed to being the voice that democratises technology and capital from the West to the East and vice versa. 

Sayris Capital seeks to lead by solving one global problem at a time.

For more information about Sayris Capital click here.


 
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