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Trending: Students, Startups Continue to Disrupt How Food Is Grown, Made, Packaged, Salvaged

The Mimica Touch food-labeling system is designed to tell you if your food is still fresh, so you can save more and waste less. | Image credit: Mimica

FoodBytes!  the global pitch competition/networking event by Rabobank, a premier global food and agribusiness bank, has announced the 20 food and ag startups that will get a chance to pitch their ideas at the inaugural FoodBytes! London in September.

The startups demonstrate product innovation and commercial viability, and all aim to enhance supply chain sustainability through pioneering new products and technologies. Precision agriculture, packaging and food waste, and supply chain transparency are dominant themes addressed by the finalists.

Through FoodBytes!, Rabobank scours the globe looking for the world’s most disruptive food and agriculture innovators. The platform offers an opportunity for selected entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations in front of investors, corporates and media, as well as receive mentorship from industry leaders.

“This is Rabobank’s first FoodBytes! event in London and we are blown away by the caliber of the presenting companies that are developing technologies and products to disrupt the food system,” Nick Fereday, Executive Director of Food & Consumer Trends at Rabobank and FoodBytes! London judge, said, “whether it is to improve the transparency of the supply chain or bring alternative proteins to the market.”

The highest-ranked startups based on specific criteria will have 3.5 minutes to pitch and the second highest ranked startups will have 1.5 minutes to pitch.

The 10 3.5-minute pitch companies are:

  • Connnectera (Agtech) – Building an artificial intelligence platform that will help grow food sustainably. Ida, its intelligent dairy farming assistant, helps dairy farmers run the worlds’ most efficient dairy farms.
  • Trapview (Agtech) – An automated pest monitoring and forecasting platform, which enables daily and reliable collection of pest monitoring data. Trapview’s AI-based pest insect dynamics forecast optimises crop protection activities and makes farming operations 10 percent more profitable.
  • ViroVet (Agtech) – Dedicated to the development of disruptive and innovative technologies for the control of viral diseases in livestock.
  • Ubiqutek / Rootwave (Agtech) – Pioneering the use of electricity to kill weeds and offer a scalable and sustainable alternative to herbicides.
  • Mimica Lab (Food Tech)– Creating accessible, affordable freshness indicators for all types of perishable products, from food to pharmaceuticals, Mimica aims to become the globally recognised mark of freshness for industry, consumers and communities.
  • Image credit: TIPA
  • Easilys (Food Tech) – A SaaS software editor for back office and waste management solution for restaurant and foodservice activities.
  • SwissDeCode (Food Tech) – Its DNAFoil line is the world’s first portable, completely self-administered, on-site DNA detection kit, allowing staff to confirm product integrity in 30 minutes without lab delays.
  • TIPA (Food Tech) – Fully compostable flexible packaging solutions that will fully return back to nature in compost conditions within 180 days.
  • Yooji (CPG) – Frozen organic baby food in small portions. Low-temp steam-cooking and quick-freezing help preserve organoleptic qualities, vitamins and nutrients, and offer a melting texture adapted to a baby’s age.
  • Creative Nature (CPG) – The creator of a wide range of invigorating raw superfoods and ‘free-from’ snacks, based on healthy ingredients with functional benefits.

The 10 companies giving 1.5 minute pitches are:

Image credit: Garçon Wines
  • BeeHero (Agtech) – On a mission to improve crop pollination by saving and empowering bees. Its technology allows commercial beekeepers to keep their colonies stronger and farmers to increase their yields dramatically.
  • Earth Rover (Agtech) – The first operating system that will make robotics work for farmers by leveraging best-in-class technologies to deliver working applications that cut farmers’ production costs.
  • EggXYt (Agtech) – Makes it possible for farmers to count their chickens before they hatch by using a biomarker on the male chromosome of a chicken embryo, making its sex detectable once an egg is laid. EggXYt is saving billions of dollars and unnecessary chick deaths.
  • InnovoPro (Food Tech) – Maker of a unique, clean label, non-allergenic chickpea protein, CP Pro70, for use in bakery, dairy and savory products.
  • Provenance (Food Tech) – Empowers brands to increase trust, using revolutionary technology for greater supply chain transparency.
  • Image credit: Sea Chips
  • OddBox (Food Tech) – London’s first and only ‘wonky veg’ box scheme that fights food waste on farms by sourcing slightly imperfect produce, for a fair price directly from farms, delivering them straight to customers for 30 percent cheaper than similar box services.
  • SafetyNet Technologies (Food Tech) – Works with fishing industry stakeholders to design and build light-emitting devices that increase the selectivity of commercial fishing practices, reducing over-fishing and bycatch and making the industry more sustainable.
  • Biokind (CPG) – Producer of sustainable protein feed for aquaculture, livestock and pets.
  • Garçon Wines (CPG) – Flat wine bottles made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET and modelled on the traditional shapes, but the improved design makes them remarkably more efficient & eco-friendly for delivery, logistics, storage and retailing.
  • Sea Chips (CPG) – Upcycles often-wasted, nutrient-packed salmon skin into handcrafted crisps and donates 10 percent of profits to ocean charities to help keep the sea clean.

The startups will be vying for one of three awards – Judge’s Choice, People’s Choice and Highly Commended.

Meanwhile, an avocado energy bar, naturally sweetened peanut butter cups and cocktails, and ice cream made with fruit fly larvae were among the innovative food tech combinations created and presented by Food Product Development students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot, Israel.

The students presented their innovations at FoodTech Nation 2018 last month, which showcased future food products and hosted food tech researchers, professors, investors, entrepreneurs and academics.

Aptly named the "startup nation," Israel is one of the top countries in the world for innovation in food tech, currently boasting roughly 750 active food and agtech startups, according to a May report by the Israeli non-profit Start-Up Nation Central. In addition to Food Tech Nation, over 1,000 people gathered in May for FoodTechIL, a massive event showcasing startups pioneering agricultural, food and beverage solutions.

Student Presentations

In a first for the Food Product Development course, students were asked to share their creations at the Food Tech conference. The students were split into five teams, assigned a food topic which needed to be developed into a physical product, and collaborated with local food companies and startups to come up with their formulations. Among the results …

  • Terrabites – the Terrabites team’s goal was to isolate fiber from the scraps of avocados, usually a waste product, for adding into other products to increase the fiber content without adding calories or unhealthy ingredients. After a few attemps, the result was a refined powder that was easy to mix into other ingredients. Their final product was a sustainable, gluten-free, all-natural energy bar; the avocado increased the bars’ fiber content from eight to 20 percent.
  • FOMO – this group’s challenge was to create a “clean label” delicacy. Working with Tnuva, the largest food manufacturer in Israel, which specializes in milk and dairy products, they created a vegan coconut tapioca pudding with pineapple.
  • Moscatina – while insect larvae likely wouldn’t be most people’s first choice for an ice cream ingredient, this student group managed to incorporate it into a delicious frozen treat, with help from Israeli startup Flying Spark, a company that developed sustainable protein powder from the larvae of Mediterranean fruit flies. The students added it to peanut butter ice cream and berry sorbet, increasing the protein content from 3.5 to 10 percent for the former and from 0 to 5 percent for the latter.
  • Bonferrati – working with a local Israeli spice factory, this group made cocktail mixtures sweetened with natural pear syrup (no processed sugar). Coming in mojito, lychee-grapefruit-thyme and orange-cinnamon flavors, the mixtures come in cube form and can be kept in the freezer for easy addition to alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Reesless – working with Unavoo Food Technologies — a company that produces an all-natural sweetener with a glycemic value of zero, no sugar components, and almost no calories — this team created a guilt-free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup by replacing the sugar with Stevia and other natural sweeteners.

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