Course Description

The market for plant-based products is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as more consumers seek alternatives to meat, dairy, seafood, as well as plant-based food ingredients. This class is a hub where students closely interact with entrepreneurs, companies, venture capitalists and plant-based organizations, acquiring a holistic view of the plant-based food space. Students learn the principles of food science applied to the design and production of plant-based foods. Working in teams, they’ll tackle industry challenges to design real novel plant-based products. Emphasis is given to the design of healthy, minimally processed foods, based on locally available raw materials. Graduates of the program have created new companies and/or work in leading plant-based companies.


Due to the nature of this class topic, it is highly recommended that students have a strong background in biological sciences, chemistry, chemical engineering or related disciplines. Students from other backgrounds who are interested in the class topic are also welcome to apply as we will form interdisciplinary teams. Unfortunately, we can only admit very few students with a non technical major because innovation on plant based foods is becoming technically very complex. In order to form the class with the appropriate mix of students, all students must fill out an application and submit a resume and 1-page Statement of Intent including why you want to be in the class. If you are interested in enrolling, please submit the application (link below). As we near the start of the semester, the instructor will review applications on a rotating basis and you will be notified via email if you have been admitted or not. If admitted, you will be given permission to enroll.

About Challenge Labs

Challenge Labs are 4 unit courses for students of all academic backgrounds who seek a rigorous, interactive, team-based, and hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and technology. These courses use a unique pedagogy, The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, that involves the use of games, industry guest speakers, team exercises, videos and labs to cover the early part of the startup lifecycle. In these highly experiential courses, students form start-up teams to create technology solutions or services to address a broadly-defined problem posed by an industry partner or social challenge.

Introducing Team Sundial

Hear from team Sundial, a startup that started in the SCET Alt Meat Challenge Lab.


Photo of Ricardo San Martin

Ricardo San Martin

Ricardo is an inventor and entrepreneur in chemical and biological sciences. As a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, Ricardo teaches at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and is the Co-founder of the Alt.Meat Program at UC Berkeley. Ricardo was also the Founding Director of the Master of Design P. at the Universidad Catolica de Chile. Ricardo has a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the Imperial College London and has a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley.

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Sarah Klass

Sarah is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Keasling Lab, UC Berkeley where she is working on engineering polyketide synthetases (PKSs) to bio-manufacture small molecule monomers that can be polymerized into recyclable 3D plastics. With a chemistry and chemical biology background, her focus has been on chemically and genetically modifying natural protein structures for advanced material functions. During her Ph.D. in the Francis lab at UC Berkeley, she studied the impact of sequence modification on intrinsically disordered proteins’ self-assembling properties to develop a new class of bioderived and biodegradable protein-based materials with unique functions.