StartLife graduates present radical innovations to shape the future of food
Wageningen (NL), 15 December 2020 | Nine European startups are the latest to graduate from StartLife’s accelerator programme, bringing a host of cutting-edge food technologies, including innovative uses of AI, gene editing and increased digitisation to improve sustainability and create value along the supply chain.
The Netherlands-based programme selects promising startups in the agrifood sector and helps ensure that they are investor-ready and fully prepared to partner with major corporate players.
“Ten years ago, open innovation was a novel concept, but now it is the new normal,” said Program Director Loet Rammelsberg. “We take startups with a viable product and connect them with both investors and corporations looking for innovative technologies. The latest companies to graduate from our programme are well-positioned to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our industry, like sustainable food production, reducing food waste, and enhancing food safety.”
All participating companies are selected for their potential to effect positive change in the food supply chain. This cohort includes several with technologies to track food safety and quality, which has been particularly emphasised as a result of Covid-19. Others have applications for improving crops and animal welfare, better nutrient delivery, food preservation, quality control and packaging.
- Blakbear (UK) has introduced a sensor for food packaging to detect freshness and help reduce waste at both wholesale and retail levels.
- Healthycrop (Denmark) has developed a genetically engineered variety of barley to enable fungicide-free agriculture, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Iamus (Ireland) uses robotics and artificial intelligence to improve poultry farm management, margins and animal welfare.
- KomraVision (Estonia) has developed a handheld scanner that works like a lab-scale NIR spectrometer for fast, portable food and ingredient analysis.
- Mylium (Netherlands) uses fungi to make naturally grown textiles.
- Plantik Biosciences (France) is developing plant breeding technologies for rapid crop improvement – starting with cannabis.
- Sphera Encapsulation (Italy) specialises in natural and sustainable micro and nano encapsulation technologies, including for functional food and nutraceutical ingredients.
- TuttiFoodi (Netherlands) has introduced a 100% natural food preservation technology that also boosts dietary fibre.
- Vertigo Technologies (Netherlands) uses microwave measurements for fresh fruit quality control, helping to reduce wastage.
“We are operating in a domain where impact is a given,” Rammelsberg said. “We have connected each of these companies with partners to make sure they are serving the needs of this industry. In the end it is the industry that makes the impact, enabling us to move toward a more sustainable world.”
Founded in partnership with Wageningen University & Research and Oost NL, the East Netherlands Development Agency, StartLife marked its ten-year anniversary last month. Over the past decade, it has seen food production gradually make greater use of technology for food that is healthier for people and the planet – and these technologies have become more accessible, affordable and user-friendly.
Investors have followed suit. European venture capital funding in agrifood technologies grew 94% in 2019, according to AgFunder research. Meanwhile, sustainability has become an important motivating factor for both industry partners and investors, as companies and investment managers alike increasingly are incentivised to improve sustainability performance.
StartLife has built, supported and funded more than 300 startups, helping to propel innovation in agrifood tech. The StartLife programme offers seed funding of up to €75,000, and its maximum investment is set to increase to €250,000 from January 2021. Participants also benefit from a network of mentors and specialist training in various areas of business development. Applications for the spring 2021 cohort are now open.
StartLife is the Wageningen-based agrifoodtech accelerator that helps impact driven startups grow into leading enterprises. Since its foundation in 2010, StartLife has built, supported and funded 300+ startups, propelling breakthrough technologies in the domains of food and agriculture. StartLife offers a world-class acceleration program, top industry business mentors, non-equity funding and access to a thriving community of startups, investors, corporates and experts.