EIT Food will invest €5.4 million in 13 high-impact agrifood startups during the COVID-19 crisis, it has announced today. A total of €4.088M will come from the EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative, and €1.3M of additional funds has been provided by EIT Food to give much-needed extra support to ventures throughout the pandemic.
The aim of the investments is to help ventures adapt to COVID-19, to continue critical innovation to transform our food systems and to bridge the gap towards their next investment round. As part of the EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative, which has mobilised funding totalling €60m, the COVID-19 Bridge Fund directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The selected startups cover a range of sectors with vast potential to create positive change, including alternative proteins, sustainable agriculture, targeted nutrition and circular food systems. A pipeline of 74 companies from 19 countries - including Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Israel, the UK and Poland – were closely analysed, of which 13 were chosen to be part of EIT Food’s investment portfolio. The 13 selected startups are: Agritask (IL), Alberts (BE), Antofénol (FR), Consentio (ES), Eatch (NL), Epinutra (NL), Feltwood (ES), Foodpairing (BE), Food Sourcing Specialists (ES), Mimica Touch (UK), NapiFeryn (PL), Phytolon (IL) and Sencrop (FR). More details on the selected startups can be found below.
One of the selected ventures is NapiFeryn – a Polish biotech startup which extracts protein from rapeseed oil production waste streams, providing a sustainable alternative to animal-derived proteins. The protein is as nutritional as plant-based market leader soy, creating a product that is more sustainable and affordable for consumers. The investment provided by the COVID-19 Bridge Fund will help to execute its ongoing research and development activities, leading to commercialisation of novel, plant-based, functional food ingredients derived from rapeseed.
Co-founder Magdalena Kozłowska of NapiFeryn, commented:
“Our technology to extract protein from rapeseed has the potential to transform the protein market by reducing food insecurity and increasing plant-based eating habits of consumers around the world. This funding is vital, enabling us to continue our research and bring us closer to the introduction of rapeseed proteins to global markets.”
Innovative startups have faced a series of difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The new investment allows ventures to continue critical research and development activities, work with potential partners and customers, and to prepare for their next round of investment.
Antofénol, another beneficiary of the COVID-19 Bridge Fund, is a French biotechnology company dedicated to the development of a sustainable and healthy replacement for chemical preservatives on fruit and vegetables, which are used to extend shelf life and preserve quality.
Fanny Rolet, Founder of Antofénol said:
“Our innovative technology allows us to extract agricultural waste from vineyards and transform it into a chemical-free product capable of replacing toxic substances that sit on our fruit and vegetables. The benefit is twofold – we replace molecules which could be harmful for the environment and health, whilst also recycling waste by transforming it into a product that can be used by the agricultural sector. This bridge funding from EIT Food will enable us to enhance our product portfolio and help us to work towards our vision of a circular economy model.”
Dr. Andy Zynga, CEO of EIT Food, stated:
“Startups will play a critical role in the European post-COVID recovery effort, and could provide the solution to the future challenges we will face as a society.
These new investments will be a vital lifeline to many game-changing innovators and reflects EIT Food’s ongoing commitment to delivering sustainable, healthy and trusted food systems. Today, more than ever, we are focused on supporting our greatest entrepreneurial minds to help them overcome the impact of the pandemic and embed resilience in the agrifood sector.”
As part of the EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative, the COVID-19 Bridge Fund directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which totalled €60M. In July, EIT Food was awarded €6.17m in the COVID-19 Rapid Response Call for Innovation, with the purpose to develop solutions specifically targeted towards the crisis. The total available amount awarded for both funding opportunities by EIT is €10.25 million.
Commenting on the launch of the COVID-19 Bridge Fund, Benoit Buntinx, Director of EIT Food Business Creation, added:
“Startups have faced an increased level of uncertainty and market volatility during COVID-19 and our bridge funding will ensure that they can continue to thrive. At EIT Food, we believe that innovation holds the key to fixing our food system so that it is healthier and more sustainable for all. This fund will play an integral part in our efforts to build a high-impact entrepreneurial network that can support our recovery from this crisis."
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