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Setting Foodpreneurs for Success: Problem Solving Session at EIT Food

One  week ago, I was in Bilbao to join other international agrifood experts for a Problem Solving Session. The aim was to use our 'collective' brain to help 10 startups to grow and succeed in the food space. This session was organized by EIT Food, which is the European Institute of Innovation & Technology devoted to making the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted. 

These people from around the world,  gathered in Bilbao to unlock new solutions to the challenges each one of the 10 startups are facing.  This brilliant group of people was composed by experienced researchers, investors, industry experts and entrepreneurs.  

We worked actively hearing and contributing to fascinating projects, active in several parts of the food value chain.  From alternative proteins, smart farming, food waste reduction, and functional foods and health. 

In the area of alternative proteins, Novameat is focused on producing 3D printed plant-based meat substitutes through advanced food printing. The founder, Giuseppe Scionti is working to provide a plant-based meat alternative to reduce the impact of animal agriculture and improve world nutrition. To produce at scale, they are now selling a cutting-edge proprietary technology which uses micro-extrusion to produce fibrous meat products that are accessible, safe, scalable and of high quality.

Another brilliant entrepreneur I got to meet is Mario Oto. His company, Nucaps,  has developed a technology to increase shelf life and efficiency of bioactive substances and probiotics, which normally get degraded fast.  This new encapsulation technology (nanoencapsulation) is made of food protein to protect and can be incorporated into any food, beverage or supplement.

We also got to eat delicious plant based cheese made with butter from cashew nuts and almonds, brought by Rawckers. The category of dairy free products are booming in the market and appealing to  the palates of non vegans. Companies such as General Mills and Kraft Heinz are leading substantial investments in this direction. We talked to the founder Stefan Foldi, discuss the expansion strategy of the company. 

A couple of Dutch entrepreneurs (Jelle and Rob) are putting forward a solution to one of the major challenges of the food system: achieving a more sustainable crop production model for smallholder farmers worldwide. With a standalone smartphone application, SmartFarming  supports extension workers and smallholder farmers by supplying them with dynamic and validated crop management information.  

Javier Ramos is one of the Spanish foodpreneurs we met during the  working session. He has developed a technology to help ham producers measure and control salt and fat levels through an easy-to-use needle-based device resulting in higher quality and healthier contents, while avoiding product destruction and waste. 

Anders Mendez, one of the youngest participants of the session,  hopes to design the future of food and has already launched two interesting projects in the  food arena: Hola Plates , which are designed to absorb fats from meals and Osito&co, a brand of alcohol gummy bears, which are already being sold in cocktail bars. 

Joao Cotter founded Aquaponics Iberia to address one of the main challenges of aquaponics, by developing a lower maintenance and higher productive technology to combine fish and greens farming, making fresh, healthy and sustainable food available to urban consumers.

Andrius Ratkevicius and Simas Jarasunas have tapped into a growing demand for energy drinks for health conscious consumers. This is how Brite was born,  as the first natural nootropic drink effective in boosting brain function. It is based on the science backed synergy of caffeine & L-theanine. Made using superfoods high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Free from preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavourings and colourings.

The Problem Solving Session concluded last Friday, but opened up a wide range of possibilities for collaboration among the participating entities. We wish to continue working with EIT Food to contribute to the objectives of healthier and more sustainable food, through effective tools like this  one, which sets our ecosystem for success. 

Beatriz Jacoste, Business Development Manager at KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub


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