MassChallenge Switzerland Announces the Top Winner Team of the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge

Renens, Switzerland – May 4th, 2021: MassChallenge Switzerland, part of MassChallenge’s global network of innovators, today announces the Top Winner Team of this third edition of the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge.

The concept of the Sustainability Food Systems Challenge was initiated by a strong group of our corporate partners and was founded with a singular purpose: to reduce emissions and feed the forecasted 10 billion population sustainably on the planet in 2050, by accelerating innovation in the food sector. The Sustainable Food Systems Challenge is designed to foster startup/partner collaboration so that startup’s game-changing ideas can be scaled and make IMPACT now.

For our 2022 edition, 484 businesses applied to the challenge. 123 were highly ranked and invited to introductions with the partners such as Nestlé, Bühler, Givaudan, Louis Dreyfus, Südzucker and DSM. Around 30 of them are in exploring next steps with the corporates.

These partners then selected 5 finalists for further exploratory discussions based on their potential to collaborate with them and meet the challenge: they had a few weeks to create a joint pitch and show how the startup’s idea, when scaled by the partner, will help cut emissions & feed the planet sustainably by 2050. The team pitched at the Challenge Final on April 28th.

The overall winner of the Pitching Competition was PectCof who pitched as a Team with Nestlé and Givaudan.

“The collaboration among PectCof, Givaudan and Nestlé is a result of our common missions. We rise by lifting others…by upcycling of coffee side streams that would otherwise pollute the environment to novel and functional food ingredients with superior functionality at best cost-in-use , we are providing extra income in countries where coffee is cultivated, and, last but not least, enabling new clean-label formulations, in line with the latest trends in the food and beverages industry.” – Daniela Ribezzo, CEO of PectCof.

“Big thanks to the Masschallenge team to have brought in so many interesting startups during this 2022 Sustainable Food Systems Challenge. We are excited to help Petcof valorizing this novel technology for producing plant based, natural and sustainable food ingredients from coffee side streams. We believe joining forces is key to advance sustainable food production and reduce impact on the environment “.  – Katherine Macé, Startup Program Manager at Nestlé Research
“We believe that upcycling offers the potential to resolve food and nutrition needs in a sustainable and natural way. The collaboration among PectCof and Givaudan offers a unique opportunity to address some key food system challenges with a clean label and sustainable solution.” – Fabio Campanile, Head of Science & Technology, Taste & Wellbeing at Givaudan

We wish all 5 finalists to go on to work directly with the corporate partner’s key stakeholders to validate their joint idea, connect to more customers, access resources and capital, and ultimately co-develop and scale the proposition together.


Pectcof (Netherlands) – The idea of Pectcof is to transform coffee cherries, a side stream of the coffee chain, into valuable bio-compounds used for the production of food ingredients, biochemicals, and second generation bio-fuels. Pectcof’s technology uses a biorefinery concept with green chemistry and state of the art biotechnology to do so.

Aqua Cultured Foods (USA) – Aqua Cultured Foods is an innovative food technology company disrupting the alternative protein space with the world’s first whole-muscle cut seafood alternative created through the process of microbial fermentation. Their novel technology produces a sustainable complete protein source, using only a fraction of the resources required by traditional agriculture.

Comet Bio (UK) – Comet Bio’s patented production process upcycles crop and foods leftovers – such as straw, leaves, and shells – into high-quality ingredients. The proprietary extraction process is innovative, they ensure their products are of high quality by first partnering with farmers and food companies to source many organic and non-GMO leftovers.

Gavan (Israel) – Gavan’s proprietary technology extracts high purity proteins from the source while maintaining their physical structure unharmed and preserving their high functionality. The breakthrough multi-stage technology enables the extraction of multiple proteins from the source until it is totally consumed.

Alfred’s FoodTech (Israel)- introduces an innovative and scalable approach to Alternative Protein Products Texturization. Alfred’s brings a new way of thinking about Food Texturization and is the leading technology used for whole-cut texturization. Alfred’s Food Tech is creating a NEW Alternative Protein Platform for Meat, Poultry, Fish, Cheese, and Hybrids.


The pitches were assessed by an expert jury, based on the potential sustainability impact, viability, and scalability of the top finalists’ ideas. The jury then selected the overall winning team.

Ian Roberts – Chairman of the Jury. President MassChallenge Switzerland & CTO Bühler. (Will abstain from judging Bühler)

Christina Senn-Jakobsen – Managing Director Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley

Ale Rojas – Head of E4S Tech4Impact EPFL, UNIL, and IMD

Luca Zerbini – Venture Capital investor

Alessandra Rojas – Sustainable Entrepreneurship Manager @ Tech4Impact EPFL

Myke Naef – Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Übermorgen Ventures

Risto Väyrynen – Chairman of the Board, The Impact Office

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with seven locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, 2’928 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $8.6B in funding, generated more than $3.6B in revenue, and created more than 186,000 total jobs. Learn more here about MassChallenge.

The Sustainable Food Solutions’ Partners