Case Study

A tale of two companies—the Startup and the Corporate

The partnership between NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation to drive positive change.

Startups in the foodtech and agritech sectors are responsible for developing key innovations that are changing the way we, as consumers, live. Yet, these important drivers of the new green economy face unique challenges. Meanwhile established corporates face challenges of their own, as they strive to make innovation a priority while maintaining their existing propositions.

NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler Group have found a recipe for success with their partnership. In fact, in one year, NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler have grown a mutually beneficial relationship that is serving both parties well and has led to multiple successes across the board. What’s more, their success is implicit in the success of many other corporations that aim to increase their sustainability and reduce their contribution to climate change.

The Startup

NoPalm Ingredients specializes in turning agrifood waste into sustainable palm oil alternatives, supporting food and cosmetics companies in taking bold and meaningful action on climate. The company offers local and circular yeast oils and fats that have several advantages over palm oil. This means that by working with NoPalm Ingredients, companies can lower their carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment.

“We play a critical role in creating a waste-free world by valorizing agri-food waste streams,” says Lars Langhout, CEO and Co-Founder, NoPalm Ingredients. “By repurposing this waste, we help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, contributing to a more sustainable and circular economy.”

The Corporate

Bühler is a respected multinational that touches the lives of billions of people each day, who come into contact Bühler technologies to cover their basic needs for food and mobility, and more. These technologies span a range of areas from smartphones to banknotes to food, with a special focus on healthy, safe, and sustainable solutions. But despite its profound success and lasting legacy, Bühler deals with the traditional challenges of an established corporate—namely new growth through innovation while maintaining long-running systems, practices and products.

“Bühler aims at playing a key role in accelerating startups and scaling up new technologies that have the potential to reduce drastically the CO2 and land-use footprint along the whole food value chain,” says Ian Roberts, CTO of Bühler. “NoPalm Ingredients is tackling two huge challenges that the food industry and Bühler customers are currently facing: sourcing essential food ingredients that can reduce pressure on land and nature and utilizing the abundant agri-food side-streams to create value. This is why we are strongly supporting NoPalm Ingredients in their journey.”

This successful partnership began when NoPalm Ingredients applied to MassChallenge Switzerland, to take advantage of the startup accelerator’s intensive programs. NoPalm Ingredients was able to meet with MassChallenge Switzerland’s large corporate partners like Bühler and connect directly to decision makers. They also received coaching from MassChallenge Switzerland on the best way to work with Bühler–this successfully facilitated a dynamic collaboration that promised growth and innovation.

Better Together

NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler have partnered to run technical trials aimed to help them drive positive change.
NoPalm’s 400L Fermenter

Bühler’s partnership with NoPalm Ingredients is based on a shared commitment to sustainability and innovation. They are collaborating on several fronts, including the life cycle assessment of NoPalm Ingredients’ oils and fats, which is essential to ensure that their products meet the highest sustainability standards and provide a genuinely sustainable alternative to traditional oils and fats. 

In addition to a life cycle assessment, NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler have partnered to run technical trials aimed at testing and learning specific technologies that could give them an edge in terms of efficiency, costs, and carbon footprint.

“By working together, we can identify and develop solutions that maximize efficiency while minimizing environmental impact, helping us to produce high-quality, sustainable oils and fats at scale,” said Langhout. “We gained valuable insights and perspectives that helped us refine our strategy, build our brand, and become more visible to relevant stakeholders like investors, potential customers, and partners. “

While palm oil is recognized as the most efficient crop for oil production, its caveats are many, namely its impact on deforestation and biodiversity loss. In an externally validated study conducted by the Bühler Group, the impact of NoPalm Ingredients’ oil was compared with palm oil, and the results were impressive. NoPalm Ingredients’ feedstock, designated as having no emissions*, is considered waste with no economic value by its suppliers. This innovative approach allows NoPalm Ingredients to achieve a remarkable 96% reduction in carbon emissions compared to palm oil and requires 99% less land use.

*LCA ISO 14067 requires emissions to be allocated to all products that have an economic value.

The startup also plays a critical role in creating a waste-free world by valorizing agrifood waste streams. By repurposing this waste, the company helps to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, contributing to a more sustainable and circular economy. This means that by working with NoPalm Ingredients, companies can significantly reduce the carbon intensity of products and decarbonize their value chains, essentially lowering their carbon footprint and making a positive impact on the environment.

Agrifood tech startups and corporates are on a no emissions mission.
Startups can valorize agrifood waste streams.

The Advantage of Teamwork

NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler’s partnership is mutually beneficial because it has allowed NoPalm Ingredients to leverage Bühler’s expertise in technological innovation and sustainability while providing Bühler with the opportunity to work with a company committed to driving positive environmental change.

“By sharing knowledge and resources, we can build strong foundations for a future collaboration when NoPalm Ingredients is ready to produce commercially at an industrial scale,” says Langhout. “Overall, our partnership with Bühler is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation to drive positive change.”

All partnerships have their challenges. But when done properly, the security involved can help a startup grow more quickly and with better results. On the other side, they can help established corporates increase innovation and open relevant, new streams of income. Together, NoPalm Ingredients and Bühler are  perfecting the art of the mutually beneficial relationship—one in which high-quality, sustainable oils and fats are available to everyone, helping to reduce our collective environmental impact and build a more sustainable world for generations to come.

About the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge

In addition to the accelerator, MassChallenge Switzerland operates a Challenge program that pairs later-stage startups with corporate partners in the food industry—the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge. Startups have a unique role in introducing disruptive ideas, while corporations play a crucial role in scaling these ideas and quickly delivering benefits to society. MassChallenge believes that startups and corporations can collectively contribute to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions and addressing the challenges of feeding the projected global population of 9.8 billion by 2050.

Applications are now open for the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge. Apply here.