EIT Food South has chosen 12 innovative projects that will gather during this week in a business incubator bootcamp. Due to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis, these sessions will be held remotely in an online, dynamic and intensive “campus”. After this bootcamp, the best start-ups will receive €10,000 to be invested in the search for potential customers. Additionally, they will have the chance to present their projects to experts of the agrifood sector and, the best among them, will receive funding of up to €20,000, which will help them continue to move their business forward.
EIT Food organises the Seedbed programme for the second consecutive year. The goal is to attract innovative ideas or projects that will enable the advancement and generation of new talent within the agrifood sector. This year, despite the mobility restrictions resulting of the COVID-19 health crisis, the European consortium has decided to proceed with this initiative by going 100% online and thus continuing its support to these start-ups during these convoluted times.
From 18 to 22 May, this virtual incubator bootcamp will bring together 12 projects selected from among a pool of 200 proposals coming from all Southern Europe. These companies will submit to intensive work, which will culminate at the end of the week with a selection of the best ones.
The start-ups that overcome the first selection will become part of a 6-month programme (from June to November), where they will be tutored by mentors from relevant companies in the sector and EIT Food partners, such as Pascual, Danone, Grupo AN, and Azti. At the end of this bootcamp, the best projects will be granted awards of up to €20,000, which will help them proceed with their businesses.
Bilbao, the most requested “campus” in Europe
EIT Food has only implemented five European incubators; namely, Denmark, Germany, Warsaw (Poland), Belfast (Northern Ireland), and Bilbao. Over 200 registrations were recorded, of which 138 companies complied with the minimal requirements. Of these, Bilbao was the most demanded “campus”, with a total of 56 requests.
Seedbed participants come from different countries. There are two projects from Spain. Plant on Demand offers a digitalisation and optimisation application for product purchase and sale. Bio2coat, on its part, produces edible food coatings from natural sources, which are applied to extend the useful life of foods. This helps decrease the use of plastic food packaging while improving food quality.
From Italy we have received three start-ups: ReGenius Loci uses a device to determine the amount of nickel found in foods; Innovations for Life has developed a technology to process citrus fruits; and Free Waste has patented a completely automated compost container that allows for remote maintenance.
There are also two projects from Portugal. FiberGlob helps producers grow plants using less peat and Sound Cafe uses ultrasound radiation to increase the life of fresh agricultural products after harvest.
Two entrepreneurs are from Turkey. Algdeha produces industrial scale algae to use as animal feed, replacing the fish used for these same purposes. Agrovisio, on the other hand, provides a tool to detect higher-quality farming land. Finally, we have also received a proposal from Israel: BioTip has developed a sticker that indicates food freshness.
All these are joined by two other start-ups from the Danone intra-entrepreneurial programme. The bootcamp will also include a guest, 2BNanofood, an initiative from Braga (Portugal) that won the Seedbed programme last year in Bilbao. This company has developed an ingredient that replaces synthetic materials which have hazardous effects on human health while maintaining food quality and safety. Confectionery companies are searching for a solution such as this one so the product complies with the European regulations.
From last year's experience there are other ideas that have become success cases. One of them is Crover, whose promoters are from Edinburgh (United Kingdom). It allows to save the loss of grain during silo mapping. Another case is Vegshelf, a B2B digital platform that allows the display of plant-based foods 24/7, with direct access to retail buyers.