No one can deny that 2020 is being a year like no other. This Covid situation has transformed the function and image of several sectors, such as agrifood. However, innovation "has not stopped" and there are a wide range of opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow. As Jose Manuel Revuelta, General Director at Finnova, mentioned, a lot of people are willing to invest in startups. Therefore, the II EIT Food FUN&FAN offered new solutions to existing challenges.
To scale and innovate we have to gather different looks. We are joining worlds to provide solutions to challenges, says Garbiñe Henry, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director of the University of Deusto
The event became a space where entrepreneurs and experts could connect to innovate and share knowledge about the agrifood sector. To do so, diverse round tables, startups activities and inspiring speeches were organised. Begoña Pérez Villarreal, EIT Food South Director, opened the event and gave some key insights on entrepreneurship after COVID-19. The opening was followed by the interventions of Paola Giavedoni, EIT Food Director of Innovation, sharing the European vision and Einav Gefen, the Executive Corporate Chef of Uniliver Food Solutions, who spoke about the reality in the USA and gave us some keys to success: "There is a willingness to adapt to digitalization, many chains are opening their online stores. We see Digitalisation as a key".
As a constantly growing sector, innovation is a must for any agrifood business and due to the pandemic it is important to find new alternatives to move forward.Thus, It is always convenient to hear what experts and entrepreneurs have to say. Both round tables, Startup’s Anatomy and Womensworld, handed the opportunity to hear different experiences and points of view:
The first debate focused on how the COVID-19 has had an effect on entrepreneurship. There, Joseph Gridley, EIT Food Business Creation Manager; Garbiñe Henry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director at University of Deusto; Ananya Manna, Investment Director at MCH Private Equity; Juan Manuel Revuelta, General Director at Finnova; and Oscar Longares, Business Development at Feeltwood had the chance to share opinions and advices.
The second round table was leaded by women experts talking about how and why innovative women entrepreneurs can solve the agrifood challenges. Lara Rodríguez, EIT Food Project Manager; Isabel Iturbe, Vice-president at AED and president at Bilbao Basket, Iratxe Perales, Co-founder and COO at Sonicat Systems ; Anaïs Iglesias, Head of Entrepreneurship and Lecturer Basque Culinary Center; and Carolina Najar, Partner at BAIBA The Kitchen provided enriching knowledge about the subject.
In the event there was also the occasion to highlight the opportunities for startup investment and development in the Basque Country and Europe. Elisabet Gosospe Gorostiza, Head of the Entrepreneurship and Training Area at Hazi Fundazioa and Joseph Gridley were the ones guiding the topic.
To create a startup, you have to desire it and feel capable. explains Anaïs Iglesias, Head of Entrepreneurship and Lecturer at Basque Culinary Center
These words reflect some goals of the project: reinforcing and boosting startups in this field. To support them, Juliet Bay, EIT Food Startup Support Manager, ran the activity ‘Startup Showcasing Game’, which was divided in three themes: Food Waste, Wellbeing and Sustainable Agriculture.The activity had a good acceptance among the participants and interesting matters were shared.
In the case of Food Waste, these were the startups that gave solutions to the issue:
- Bio2Coat (Edible coating used on fresh food products to preserve and extend shelf life )
- Biotip (Developed a freshness sticker can be put on fresh products to detect realtime expiry date)
- Crover (Developed a small robotic device that can “swim” through bulk solids like cereals and grains, constantly monitoring their condition while they are in storage)
- Free Waste (Developed a food waste procesor that turns organic waste into compost),
- Nanomik Biotechnolgy (Developed and produced micro-encapsulated, plant-based biopesticides that work as fungicides for the agricultural and food supply chain industries)
- Sound Safe (Developed a technology to reduce waste and extend the shelf life of fresh products)
- Tsenso (B2B cloud solution that evaluates the real-time freshness of food throughout the journey of products from farm to plate)
When it came to Wellbeing, the startups that took part were:
- Alacarte Ventures (Developed the first machine that reduces the quantity of alcohol and the calorific value of wine and spirits)
- FooD'Nassay (Developed an innovative way to detect foodborne pathogens)
- ReGenius Loci (Developed a device that can identify the levels of nickel in food products)
And last but not least, it was the turn of the startups that work for a Sustainable Agriculture:
- AgroPestAlert (Developed real time monitoring of pests and environmental variables to prevent the outbreak of plagues that are a major contributor to the spoilage of crops)
- Algdeha (Produce algae as a substitute to fish feed currently used to feed livestock, poutry and fish farming sectors)
- Odd.Bot (Developed a smart and sustainable solution to weeding with the Weed Whacker)
- Open Grow (GroLab™ allows you to automate all the aspects of agricultural produce)
- Plant on Demand (Digital platoform to facilitate sale and purchasing of food product from small and medium sized farmers)
- Serket (It is an advanced technology for monitoring pig farms)
To give an end to II FUN&FAN Giuseppe Scionti, CEO & Founder at NOVAMEAT, presented a motivational speech about alternative proteins. "All what we do is for one reason : being sustainable", declares Scionti.