BioFeyn - A Seedbed Incubator Case Study
BioFeyn, a French-American start-up, is working to produce the most sustainable and nutrient-packed farmed fish on the market. Discover more about their company and how the 2020 Seedbed Incubator programme supported them on the initial stage of their commercial journey.
The Idea – making farmed fish more sustainable and nutritious
About half of all the fish we eat come from farms, which looks like a great statistic on the surface but diving deeper you start to see the pollution, disease and animal stress, it’s not uncommon for entire farms to be lost to diseases.
With this in mind, BioFeyn decided to translate some of the latest cutting-edge technology and proven science from human biomedicine and apply it to aquaculture. Specifically, the team is focused on creating feed additives by adapting nanotechnologies based on human medicine to deliver nutrients and/or natural disease preventatives to fish. This strategy is designed to improve the diets of farmed fish and decrease the likelihood of disease.
Given the rapid growth of the aquaculture sector, there is a tremendous advantage in the speed at which BioFeyn’s approach can be applied to this industry as the team are working on optimising ingredients that are already proven to be safe and sustainable. This adds value for farmers, feed suppliers and the environment in a manageable timescale.
Who is behind the idea?
Many of the Seedbed Incubator startup teams come from an agrifood background, in contrast the BioFeyn team is unique in that its co-founders originate from the world of human biomedicine. Timothy Bouley, CEO is a medical doctor, while Marie-Christine Imbert, CSO is a molecular biologist.
How Seedbed Incubator supported BioFeyn
Coming from the field of biomedicine, the BioFeyn team found that the Seedbed Incubator provided a great orientation to the startup food ecosystem, and from this they were able to effectively learn how to accelerate the development of their company and its growth in the aquaculture space.
In particular they found that the structured approach recommended by the Seedbed Incubator coaches toward market validation was very valuable. It gave them a rigorous method that enabled them to build theses around their “Feyn” or nanocapsule-based products. Through engagement with hundreds of potential customers, over the 6-month period of the programme, they were able to test and validate promising markets. Information from this exercise then supported strategic decisions for progressing their commercialisation approach.
The team found the Seedbed Bootcamp to be intense but very informative especially around customer development and IP, they spent many hours online interacting with coaches, mentors and other startups, and also working offline on additional research and activities to support their market validation process. As a result of participating in the Seedbed Incubator, the BioFeyn team has developed a number of new relationships that are beneficial to the company, such as potential customers, partners and regulatory experts.
Overcoming challenges and pivoting the idea
During their startup journey the BioFeyn team has followed a number of paths and had to redirect for a host of reasons - not least COVID-19.
In addition, the complexities of the field, including developing next generation nanotechnologies to address specific challenges and developing customised feed additives for specific fish species, has meant that they had to continually evaluate their market priorities, but throughout they always focused on marine based solutions and on working biomedicine ideas into aquaculture.
“EIT Food's Seedbed Incubator has been great – we’ve had exceptional advising, and lots of engagement on areas we’ve needed to work on such as customer development and building our research teams. We’ve also had very good feedback and become a part of an excellent community of other entrepreneurs. It’s been reassuring to find out that many of the other entrepreneurs on this programme are facing some of the same challenges that we are but are approaching them from different ways.”
“In my opinion many of the benefits of the Seedbed Incubator are to do with the community of entrepreneurs you’re engaged in, including advisors and technical expertise on how to set up and run a company.”
“I would absolutely recommend the Seedbed Incubator - both to those in the early stage of starting out and those that are a bit further along their journey.”
Learn more about BioFeyn
Learn more about EIT Food’s Seedbed Incubator here