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Ground-breaking startups develop technologies to help us achieve a net-zero food system

Meet “Surova” and “Mildtech” - two ambitious agritech startups that have created innovative technologies to help to contribute to a net-zero food system.

02 Nov 2022
EIT Food North-West

On Tuesday 25th October, EIT Food North-West hosted the second instalment of its “Startup Discovery Series.” The event series encourages collaboration and new partnerships by providing startups with a platform to pitch their company to the wider EIT Food community. This includes industry experts, researchers and investors that are seeking new agritech startups to work with. Each session in the event series aligns with one of the missions of EIT Food:

  • Promoting healthier lives through food
  • Delivering a net zero food system
  • Achieving a fully transparent, fair, and resilient food system

For the second session in the event series, the startups invited had a solution that aligned with the EIT Food mission: “net-zero food systems.” We were joined by Valentina Kass, COO of “Surova,” and Giorgios Vanezi, CEO and Neema Sedighi, System Design Engineer of “Mildtech.”

Meet Surova: Automated tech farms experts

Surova is an Icelandic startup that builds fully automated tech farms for businesses and customisable solutions for growers. The startup uses a business-to-business (B2B) model, by working directly with food producers that grow food for consumers. The technology combines robotics, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) based prediction algorithms, hydroponics as a growing method and biogenic carbon capturing.

With their technology, Surova are contributing to a net-zero food system by helping food producers grow crops in a more sustainable way, while removing carbon from the atmosphere. Additionally, as farms can be built near consumers, Surova are also helping to reduce food miles.

During her pitch, Valentina Kass explained the vision of Surova which is to help transform Iceland’s local food production to be more sustainable.

“[With Surova, we want to] make import-reliant countries more sustainable in local food production with tech solutions that are climate friendly, scalable and bring quality produce to market.”

After the initial pitch, a Q&A session involved the elaboration of Surova’s biogenetic carbon capturing, and whether they manufacture this themselves or buy it and use it. Further questioning covered the protection of technologies and designs and how pests are controlled due to the nature of the closed system. Attendees were supportive of Surova, stating:

“It sounds very interesting!” - Giorgios Vanezi

“I have seen vertical farming but have never seen it being incorporated with micro-robotics and that sort of technology, which I think is a huge step in the right direction!”- Neema Sedighi

Meet Mildtech: the next generation of cooking and drying processing equipment

Mildtech, a company with the mission of providing smart solutions for healthy living, was pitched by Neema Sedighi and Giorgios Vanezi. Mildtech technology uses an innovative approach to food processing, cooking, and drying, while ensuring the full organoleptic properties (the characteristics of food that an individual experiences via the senses i.e., taste, smell, sight) and nutritional properties of the food is retained. The technology, which makes use of an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) system benefits various sectors including the domestic, catering, and industrial sectors.

Mildtech technology can result in the need for lower temperatures, 45 degrees less than that needed for conventional drying and 80 degrees less than that needed for roasting. Faster processing is also a benefit of Mildtech technology, which is up to 80% quicker than conventional vacuum dryers and ovens.

Another impressive benefit of Mildtech technology is the reduction in energy required, with up to 80% less energy needed! This contributes to lower running costs, allowing for savings on energy costs. The reduced energy use also contributes to green credentials and showcases social responsibility, help to contribute to a net-zero food system.

After the pitch, the audience were shown an example of one year-old flowers which had been dried and impressively still had quite a bit of colour! The purpose of this was to showcase how the technology works and how the freshness of a product can be maintained. Mildtech were then asked to explain the challenges they are facing and if they have a particular customer focus. The attendees reacted very positively to Mildtech stating:

“I am so looking forward to you guys going big! “You’re also reducing food waste – that’s awesome!”” - Valentina Kass

Before the event ended, Valentina added that both companies are “solving problems in such a holistic way – you think your solving one problem but you’re actually solving many.”

Both Surova and Mildtech are helping us to achieve a net-zero food system.

Surova is doing this by:

  • Reducing carbon
  • Reducing food miles
  • Promoting sustainable crop production

Mildtech is doing this by:

  • Decreased temperatures needed
  • Reducing energy using
  • Improving their green credentials
  • Ensuring social responsibility

EIT Food supports Agritech Startups:

In order to bring new food technologies and enterprises to Europe, EIT Food supports entrepreneurs, startups, and scaleups. We have programmes that provide great mentoring and training, funding, and access to a thriving European network of agrifood specialists and resources, whether you're looking to validate your business innovation with potential clients, partner with corporations, or grow overseas.

Stay in touch with our Startup Discovery Events!

If you missed the first event in our Startup Series – “Healthier Lives through Food,” read about it here, or alternately click here to watch on demand!

We would also like to invite you to join us at the next upcoming online events in this series:

  • Tuesday 22nd November 10am-11am GMT – A Fully Transparent, Resilient and Fair Food System.

We also are pleased that we will be continuing this series in 2023:

  • Tuesday 24th January 2023 - 10 am-11 am GMT- Healthier Lives Through Food.
  • Tuesday 28th February 2023 - 10 am-11 am GMT - A Net Zero Food System. Tuesday
  • Tuesday 28th March 2023 - 10 am-11 am BST - A Fully Transparent, Fair and Resilient Food System.
  • Tuesday 25th April 2023 - 10 am-11 am BST- A Fully Transparent, Fair and Resilient Food System.
  • Tuesday 23rd May 2023 -10 am-11 am BST- A Net Zero Food System.
  • Tuesday 27th June 2023 -10 am-11 am BST- A Fully Transparent, Fair and Resilient Food System

If you would like the opportunity to pitch your start-up, or would like more information on our start-up discovery series, please contact Dr Paula Almiron paula.almiron@eitfood.eu

About the author

Aimee Fee is a Nutrition and Partnerships Intern at EIT Food. She holds a bachelor's degree in Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition and has just completed a master's degree in Sports and Exercise Nutrition. Aimee is passionate about promoting healthier lives for all through food and nutrition.

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