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European entrepreneurship focuses on innovation and collaboration to boost the agrifood sector at IV FUN&FAN

The fourth edition of FUN&FAN, an annual event dedicated to agri-food innovation, brings together leading startups, large companies and investment funds from across Europe in Bilbao.

10 Oct 2022
EIT Food South

Technological innovation, business collaboration and sustainability commitment in the agrifood sector have been the focus of the fourth edition of 'FUN&FAN', the annual event organized by the European consortium EIT Food to connect innovative startups from all over Europe. The San Mamés stadium in Bilbao brought together investors, large companies and other professionals, who shared experiences and success stories, and had the opportunity to learn about the most cutting-edge trends in the industry's innovation.

Henrik Stamm Kristensen, CEO and founder of Blendhub, was in charge of starting the day with a presentation focused on food technology and innovation in the agri-food sector. Based on his experience in the deployment of a local network of food centers in different countries such as India, Colombia and Mexico, Kristensen highlighted the importance of "empowering the local population and strengthening their economy with the creation of local teams, with the aim of feeding all people everywhere, in a sustainable way". The importance of technology was another of the key points of his presentation, since, as he stated, "the future of food is in digitalization".

Business entrepreneurship in the food sector was the topic of the first round table with the participation of Marta Rufino, Global Innovation Director at Sigma; Marisol Menendez, CEO & Founder at Bilakatu; and Giacomo Fanin, Group Business Development Manager at Cereal Docks. All three agreed on the importance of collaboration between companies and moving towards "open cross-sector innovation" to "create value together", they said. During the debate, the business strategy aimed at transforming agricultural products to provide more added value and differentiation in international markets was also considered.

Precisely, the market dynamics and new developments in the sector have focused the intervention of Alessio D'Antino, Founder & CEO at Forward Fooding. In this regard, D'Antino emphasized how entrepreneurship, collaboration and investment models can be used to create a more sustainable future for food.

Technology innovation is a " necessity", but also an "opportunity" when it comes to attracting investors, is the main conclusion of the round table dedicated to analyzing investment trends in 2022. Alberto Criado (Cardumen Capital), Alberto Díaz (BeAble Capital) and Can Atacik (Alethina Impact Investments) took part in it and left a clear message: "Entrepreneurs and investors in the agri-food sector expect greater innovation driven by technology in the coming years", because "without technology, there is no investment".

Carolina Najar (AZTI) and Iker Bilbao (Neiker), accompanied by Asier Alea (Basque Culinary Center), highlighted the role of technology centers in promoting innovation in companies within the agri-food sector, also considering sustainability through organic and regenerative techniques.

The role of agri-food start-ups in the transformation of the sector was the central theme of the panel discussion dedicated to the keys to reaching the market. Catalina Echevarri, (Agrow Analytics), Thomas Seitaridis (Municipal Water Supply and Sewerage Company of Pylaia) and Gaëtane Suzenet (Impact Partners), have focused on specialization and differentiation of emerging companies "in a fragmented market", and on collaboration with multinationals that "need startups as much as the other way around".

In addition, participants were able to learn about success stories with Inés Carballo (Aitana Spirulina), Andrea Arias (Bosque Foods) and Débora Campos (AgroGRIn Tech). These are companies that have promoted innovative solutions and also help to promote Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to building a better planet. Andrea Cruciani (Agricolus and TeamDev) and Carles Arnabat (Lab4Impact) closed the day with their testimonies on business entrepreneurship.

EIT Food Corporate Venturing Community is launched

During the conference, Begoña Pérez Villarreal, director of EIT Food for Southern Europe, announced the launch of the EIT Food Corporate Venturing Community, "a trusted space that aims to be the meeting point of reference for agrifood corporate innovation leaders in Southern Europe, where agrifood company leaders can collaborate and learn together as well as share best practices in corporate venturing," she explained.

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