During the first part of the MassChallenge Bootcamp, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) announced the creation of the first LDC Climate Resilience Prize to support startups working to drive the climate resilience and decarbonization of agriculture and food value chains.
This unconditional and non-dilutive cash prize of CHF 100,000 will be awarded to the startup with the biggest climate impact potential and comes in addition to MassChallenge Switzerland’s other non-dilutive cash prizes. LDC’s judges will assess the viability and scalability of the startup’s plan and solution. The startup’s climate impact over a period of 10 years will also be assessed using the MassChallenge Carbon Calculator.
A leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, LDC’s vision is to work toward a safe and sustainable future by contributing to the global effort to provide sustenance for a growing population. As a strategic investor, LDC is looking to connect with and invest in companies with whom it can add value as a cornerstone supplier, customer, or partner. LDC’s corporate venture capital program, Louis Dreyfus Company Ventures, provides equity capital to early-stage companies developing innovative and sustainable products, technologies, processes and solutions with the potential to transform food and agricultural production, and make LDC’s operations more profitable, sustainable and/or efficient.
MassChallenge Switzerland is facilitating meaningful connectionsbetween LDC and selected startups, with the goal to find breakthrough solutions to critical challenges in food and agricultural supply chains, adding value for customers and markets while protecting the environment and safeguarding natural resources.
The winning startup will be selected at the MassChallenge Switzerland award ceremony on October 26, in Lausanne.
Meet the selected startups
Meet the 11 later-stage startups selected to compete for the prize, alongside the early-stage startups from MassChallenge’s FoodTech Track Accelerator.
Agriculture is a big contributor to ecosystem degradation and climate change. With the global population predicted to grow, a new way to feed the world is needed. A shift from animal-based food towards plant-based alternatives is required to change global food consumption, but plant-based products commonly lack taste, functionality and nutritional aspects. With Arkeon’s protein ingredients (amino acids/peptides) we can unlock new alternative protein food products that give consumers new, non-compromisable choices. Our technology converts CO2 directly into all 20 proteinogenic amino acids. This direct “excretion” allows us to produce them directly, without processing of biomass as competitors do. Our customers are food/beverage companies offering alternative protein food products and health/wellbeing-focused lifestyle companies in the sports nutrition space. Our peptides can also be used for cosmetic/beauty products. Proof of concepts are ongoing with major industry partners while we are moving from small to commercial scale within the next 5 years.
Synthetic polymers are commonly used as microbeads and rheology modifiers in products from cosmetics, coatings, pharmaceuticals and other industries that contribute to microplastic pollution of soils and waters worldwide. Microplastics accumulate and transport toxins from sludge and easily enter the food chain, causing health consequences. One example of intentionally added microplastics is the coating of seeds and fertilizers for controlled release of nutrients in the soil. EU regulations on microplastics (2022) are forcing the coating industry to find sustainable bio-based alternatives for various product formulations. Bioweg offers biodegradable and 100% bio-based specialty ingredients, i.e., micropowders, rheology modifiers and hydrocolloids for various formulations in different sectors such as food, agricultural coatings and cosmetics. We have received strong traction from agricultural, cosmetic and chemical companies and have already tested our specialty ingredients in various product formulations in cooperation with different companies and completed the first order in 2022.
Food systems equate over 30% total global emissions. CCm provides transformational solutions to food and agricultural industries, enabling emission reductions. CCm’s patented technology produces a waste-based fertiliser (WBF) that develops a circular economy, reduces GHG emissions and provides environmentally beneficial fertiliser for farmers. WBF are produced using waste CO2 to stabilise nutrients in organic waste, producing sustainable fertiliser that delivers environmental benefits (e.g. reduced leaching and volatilisation). No other organisation produces a net-zero fertiliser using recovered CO2 which provides a unique process and product that is very high in demand. CCm can deploy technology where there is an AD plant (650 UK-wide) and CCm are looking at the global market. CCm have also entered the fertiliser market, selling WBF to farmers and growers. Currently, CCm has had two plants deployed in the UK. At least three more plants are in development, two large food manufacturers and a large farming development.
There is a shortage of sustainable protein for both feed and food. Also, most alternative proteins (e.g. soy) are heavily impacting the environment. We make single cell protein (SCP) from methane, which can be derived from biogas, natural gas or synthesis gas. The product needs very low resources of land and water. It can be used as feed (aquaculture, chicken, pets), or food (meat replacement). We have a scalable process with proprietary strain and fermenter. The next steps are pilot plant, commercial plant and product developments with our B2B customers.
ClimateCrop is focused to reduce the carbon footprint of the crops per unit yield. To do so, we increase the total energy level of the plants in form of starch (transitory or stored) by creating a mutation in our proprietary gene, a negative regulator of starch biosynthesis. The gene exists in all the flowering plants. Our targeted mutation only alleviates the negative regulation of the starch biosynthesis without affecting other regulatory function of the protein. Competitively, we save time for target identification on genome and our technology is independent of methodology used to create the mutation. This provides us access to market in any part of the world. Our customers might be the companies associated with the food-tech, biofuel, crop seed, or the farmers. We have demonstrated our technology on 4 different crops and now developing the non-GM mutated plants by chemical mutagenesis or by gene editing with strategic partners.
Embion up-cycles formerly unvalorized by-products from the food industry using a proprietary catalyst technology. The derived natural ingredient triggers microbiome stimulations in broiler livestock to increase feed conversion ratios, to prevent diseases and avoid use of antibiotics. It has proven its superiority to competitor products in several animal trials. Embion’s business model sells B2B to feed mills, which are preparing ready to feed mixes for farmers. The process is scaled up to produce ~120kg of active ingredient per batch, able to supply 5 annual tons for test market purposes and to treat ~200,000 tns of feed, creating ~250,000 Euro in sales turn-over.
Hyperplan’s mission is to secure food chains by helping industrial companies in managing a context where climate change, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions lead to an increasing volatility of agricultural production. Hyperplan technology, combining satellite, meteorological data and AI, enables clients to make timely and informed decisions for the success of their commercial or industrial operations in terms of economic efficiency, CO2 intensity reduction and food losses reduction. Hyperplan differentiates by bringing to market a platform that is collaborative, updated real-time and operational for the rapid use of teams on the ground (e.g., silo managers, planners, procurement teams, traders) Hyperplan platform is already used by industrial companies to monitor and anticipate agricultural production over 90 million hectares. Major users (as of March 2023) include Vivescia, Agrial, BayWa, Terrena to secure and improve collect operations on cereals and oil crops and Corteva Agriscience in support of sales coverage for inputs.
Ignitia’s weather and climate data solutions will drive regenerative farming techniques, sustainable agricultural practices and traceability and transparency of LDC supply (e.g. drought, flood prone supplying areas, improve grain quality and reduce reject rates). ignitia began as a research project by meteorologists and physicists improving tropical weather forecasting to support precision agriculture, farm risk indexes for insurance and lending applications, and agronomic extension work. It now provides weather forecasts and climate smart advisory tools with dynamic and farm-specific weather data to 2.6M subscribers across West Africa and Brazil, all powered by remote satellite technology and AI, equivalent to having 300300,000 virtual weather stations without installation or maintenance costs. ignitia has partnerships with major telecommunication, including Orange, and sustainable food and agricultural companies in the region, including OCP (improved fertilizer application), Value Seeds (boosting input credit recovery rates) and Nestle aggregators (improved grain quality through aflatoxin alerts).
Traditional animal and plant-based food systems engender deforestation, deplete soil, require fresh water, feed/fertilizer/pesticides and are susceptible to climate change. OCEANIUM’s proprietary biorefinery technology extracts maximum value from sustainably farmed seaweed for food, health and materials. OCEANIUM is optimizing the extraction process and product development of its OCEAN HEALTH® Protein, extracted from brown and green seaweeds for commercial launch in the food market in 2024. A small-scale pilot run in Q1 2023 yielded small volumes at around 50% protein content which will be undergoing functionality testing. OCEANIUM’s OCEAN HEALTH® Fiber launched as a food ingredient in 2022 and is already receiving significant commercial traction from global businesses, especially in the plant-based meat segment as a potential replacement to methylcellulose.OCEANIUM is an impact-driven organization, measuring itself against six UN SDGs, thereby enabling and supporting customers’ own sustainability initiatives. Sustainably farmed seaweed provides rural, coastal jobs, mitigates eutrophication, and increases biodiversity.
Smallholder farmers in India are onSmallholder farmers in India are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 1 in 3 farmers rely on fossil energy for irrigation, food processing, storage and transportation of produce. Oorja’s vision is to decarbonise agriculture, promote sustainable cultivation practices, reduce post-harvest loss, double farmers’ yields and income and create jobs to transform food systems. Oorja has pioneered the inclusive Pay-Per-Use business model to deliver low-carbon farming services to smallholder farmers. This is our unique financing model to bring essential technology to underserved customer segments. Oorja installs and operates decentralised solar infrastructure and offers irrigation, milling and cooling services and climate-smart agronomy advisory. Users pay affordable tariffs 50% cheaper than diesel, forever ending reliance on fossil fuels. They also receive agronomy advisory to reduce use of chemicals. Oorja manages 91 solar projects and its services are used by 15,000 farmers, with potential for adoption by 130 million households in India alone. the frontlines of the climate crisis. 1 in 3 farmers rely on fossil energy for irrigation, food processing, storage and transportation of produce. Oorja’s vision is to decarbonise agriculture, promote sustainable cultivation practices, reduce post-harvest loss, double farmers’ yields and income and create jobs to transform food systems. Oorja has pioneered the inclusive Pay-Per-Use business model to deliver low-carbon farming services to smallholder farmers. This is our unique financing model to bring essential technology to underserved customer segments. Oorja installs and operates decentralised solar infrastructure and offers irrigation, milling and cooling services and climate-smart agronomy advisory. Users pay affordable tariffs 50% cheaper than diesel, forever ending reliance on fossil fuels. They also receive agronomy advisory to reduce use of chemicals. Oorja manages 91 solar projects and its services are used by 15,000 farmers, with potential for adoption by 130 million households in India alone.
xFarm supports farmers and food supply chains in becoming more efficient and sustainable. With a digital application (mobile and web app) and IoT sensors in field, we help farmers identify how to optimize resources (fertilizers, agrochemicals) and improve yield and quality. Supply Chains can be monitored for production and CO2 emissions/sequestration parameters to identify and promote best practices. Our system support 140.000+ farmers and more than 40 supply chains across Europe and South America. We work with major supply chains such as Barilla (wheat), Bacardi (herbs), Roquette (corn), Lavazza (coffee), Peroni (barley), Parmalat/Lactalis Group (milk), Conserve Italia (fruit), Cereal Docks (soybean). We support our customers in digital transformation of the supply chain with our application and methodology, to reach sustainability targets. We have reduced water by 40% in coffee production and CO2 by 5% YoY in open field crops.
Discover our early-stage startups here.