Renens, Switzerland – May 4th, 2023 – MassChallenge Switzerland, part of MassChallenge’s global network of innovators, today announces the 6 Winners of the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge and the in-person Final on May 26th.
On May 26th, the top 6 startups will pitch how their solutions, in collaboration with our Corporate Partners, can reduce Green House Gas emissions, and help feed the planet’s projected 9 billion population in 2050. You’re invited to register here to attend the Final in person at our premises in Renens.
The purpose of the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge is to find startups that have solutions and proven technologies in the area of sustainable food, and who can collaborate with MassChallenge’s partners to reduce CO2 emissions and feed our increasing population sustainably.
Selected startups will then work directly with key stakeholders within a global food corporate where they’ll get access to co-development opportunities, product validation, customer connections, strategic investments, or advisor introductions.
Out of the 516 startup applications received, 80 were selected by our corporate partners Nestlé, Bühler, Givaudan, Südzucker, Louis Dreyfus Company, and DSM, to participate in Demo Days, 1:1 calls, or to collaborate. Each partner met between 5 and 38 startups in 1:1 calls or demodays, making 118 the number of startups introduced to partners. And in total, 249 introductions have been made during this challenge. This is between 30 and 56 introductions per partner.
The 6 partners then selected the top 6 startups with which they will create a joint pitch on how the startup’s ideas, when scaled by the partner, will help feed the planet sustainably. The idea is to drive startup/partner collaboration, accelerating innovation in the food sector, so that the solution can actually be scaled and make an IMPACT.
THE 6 WINNERS ARE – SHORT PITCHES
Millow (Sweden) – Millow is based on 25 years of the work of prof. www.taherzadeh.se with a new patented scalable sustainable way of producing mycelium/plant based food very different from what Quorn etc are using. Saving 95% CO2 and only need 2,3% of water, 1/3 energy and 1/3 capex. We have both hardware and software which controls the process and built-in disinfection for food safety. The system is designed in a modular, scalable and redundant way allowing us to add automation. In less than 24 hours we have a complete product with texture, natural dietary fibers, mineral, vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids. The product is vegan, no GMO, has no off-taste, uses local ingredients and requires no additives or binders, complete whole food natural.
Continuum Ag (USA) – Problem: Farmers have an opportunity to improve profitability while lowering their carbon footprint by implementing regenerative practices. However, farmers hesitate to transition because it is a complex process. Solution: We are operated by farmer experts who have made the transition on their own farms. Continuum’s proprietary software, TopSoil, allows us to scale our process. Competitive Advantage: No other company has the knowledge or relevant soil data to transform traditional farms into profitable regenerative farms at scale. Customer/Market Size: Customers include 1) companies participating in carbon markets, 2) farmers, and 3) companies who source sustainably grown commodities. The market for sustainably sourced food is estimated to be worth $200 billion. The demand for carbon credits could be worth upwards of $50 billion by 2030. Traction: We have ARR contracts with companies such as John Deere, Rabobank, and Bayer. As a result we now represent acres in 42 states and 16 countries.
Curie Co (USA) – Curie Co uses sustainable biology to create solutions for shelf-life extension and prevent spoilage due to microbial contamination. Curie Co’s enzyme optimization platform teaches abundant, naturally-occurring enzymes to perform the same function as legacy preservatives orders of magnitude better. Most of the products used on a daily basis, from shampoo to cleaning products, contain chemical preservatives that accumulate in our environment. Regulators and retailers around the world are responding by restricting legacy preservatives. Curie Co works with manufacturers to displace legacy preservatives with biodegradable enzymes, ensuring a smooth transition away from petrochemical dependence without sacrificing performance. Up to now, Curie Co has been largely focused on the personal care space but has received quite a bit of interest from food and beverage companies. Using our platform technology for engineering antimicrobial enzymes, Curie Co can partner with major players in the food ingredient space to drive innovation in clean label, natural preservation.
YieldX (Israel) – YieldX is an Ag-Biosecurity company. Using a comprehensive AI/IoT platform we predict, early detect, and may even prevent diseases in livestock farming. Right now we’re targeting the poultry industry and next would be the swine industry and the general food industry. We are the only solution that covers the entire production cycle, providing integrations with automatic real-time data which does not depend on the human factor. The technology ultimately enables the understanding of the production environment in order to predict the conditions under which a disease can begin to develop. And together with biosecurity insights in real-time allows for more correct decisions that save valuable time, and money, contribute to food safety and maintain high level of animal welfare. We have pilots with great partners in Israel, Spain, Germany, and soon US and Canada.
High Time Foods (USA) – Current protein alternatives require refrigeration, are pre-molded and sold at a premium. Our solution is shelf-stable protein alternatives, which can be used in any cuisine, any dish and is affordable (cheaper than regular meat). Our current food service customers like our product because they do not need to give away more refrigerated space, can be creative again and cook different dishes across different cuisines and cultures, and save money. We are currently selling to restaurants, chains, and caterers in the Boston (USA) area. Food banks and food distributors in regions lacking cold supply chain (i.e. Nigeria) showed strong interest. Direct to consumer and retail are additional channels we see great potential due to our shelf-stable, affordable solution.
ZeroIn (Canada) – Problem: Sugar overload is a massive and universal problem. Yet commercial sugar substitutes fall short because of the aftertaste, health concerns, and difficulty formulating products with them. Solution: A natural carbohydrate that is sweet as sugar and digestion-resistant. About the solution: A versatile and scalable technology platform to modify the sweetness profile of sweeteners and carbohydrates. The outcome is next-gen sweeteners made through environmentally friendly processes designed from circular economy principles. USP: Replace sugar 1:1 for easy adoption while keeping the familiar taste customers enjoy. Unlike the competition, such as high-intensity sweeteners, ZeroIN solution boosts the nutritional and health profile while saving time and money in formulating reduced sugar products that taste good. Customers: F&B brand owners. Traction: Completed a small pilot in sugar-free chocolate. Built prototype with better properties than high-intensity sweeteners, reduced sweet intensity, no lingering, and improved taste profiles – similar to sucrose. Global F&B company is interested.
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
Myke Naef – Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Übermorgen Ventures
Cara Tobin – Venture Partner at Clean Energy Ventures – Expert for Innosuisse
David Brandes – co-founder and CEO of Planetarygroup
About the Sustainable Food Solutions Challenge
Food production for humans & animals, and the associated value chain, accounts for c. 25-30% of total Greenhouse Gas emissions; and according to the
IPCC, observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing rain patterns, and a greater frequency of some extreme events.
Combining supply-side actions such as efficient production, transport, and processing with demand-side interventions such as modification of food choices, and reduction of food loss and waste, can reduce Green House Gas emissions, and help feed the planet’s projected 9.8 billion population in 2050.
MassChallenge believes startups and corporations can help this effort. Startups can play a unique role in bringing new disruptive ideas to the table. Corporations can play a critical role in scaling these ideas and bringing benefits to society quickly.
In 2020 a group of leading global food manufacturers and producers partnered with MassChallenge to find and collaborate with startups so that together, they could help feed the planet sustainably. Over 1,200 startups have applied to the challenge, 175 being connected to our partners. Of these, over half were involved in follow-up with our partners – check the success stories segment.
About MassChallenge Switzerland
MassChallenge Switzerland is part of MassChallenge’s global network for innovators. MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to grow and transform businesses & economies. Since MassChallenge Switzerland’s launch in 2016, they have accelerated 610 startups who have raised CHF985M in funding and generated 29,000 Jobs. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org/programs-switzerland, and follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter.