Ten European startups started a four-month acceleration programme at the EIT FAN Nordic Hub led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in June 2021. Their goal is to gain knowledge from experts and connect with possible partners, clients and investors from all over Europe. The Helsinki-based EIT FAN Nordic Hub is one of six accelerators in the European EIT Food Accelerator Network (FAN) created by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland with its partner University of Helsinki to promote a sustainable food system.
The EIT FAN Nordic Hub received more than 80 applications from 20 countries. The following ten teams were selected as the participants for the acceleration programme after extensive reviews by an international panel of impartial experts:
- Grönovation (Sustainable agriculture): High-tech automated indoor growing facility where plants will be grown with precision, without any pesticides and with a guaranteed yield of highly nutritious greens.
- Hooked Foods (Alternative proteins): Leading the transition to a healthier seafood ecosystem by delivering delicious and nutritious plant-based seafood (Toonish & Salmoonish) to restaurants and grocery stores
- Kamupak (Digital traceability): General platform for third parties that enables the reuse of packages and products through a deposit scheme. Currently providing packages as a service to restaurants, events and grocery stores.
- NORBITE (Alternative proteins): We transform plastic waste into sustainable goods by means of an insect-based biorefinery. Developed a patented technology to enable insects to perform at an industrial scale, received an LOI.
- Planticus (Sustainable agriculture): Artificial Intelligence solution to detect pests and diseases on food crops incorporated in a mobile application.
- Revo Foods (Alternative proteins): We develop plant-based seafoods with 3D Food Printing.
- Tracegrow (Sustainable agriculture): We provide micronutrient fertilizers from suitable trace nutrients recycled from nutrient-rich industrial waste streams and aim to develop a recovery process for their recycling and reuse.
- Volare (Circular food systems): Our technology solves the challenge of large-scale protein and lipid ingredient production from food industry side streams. The protein ingredient has unique features, including extremely high digestibility, high protein content, and balanced amino acids.
- Whywaste (Circular food systems): Reduce food waste at your store through data driven solutions
- Yield Systems (Sustainable agriculture): AI company with a strong science background. We develop advanced machine learning and video analytics for digital phenotyping and for the agri-food value chain.
Four teams are from Finland and four from Sweden, one from Austria and one from Belgium.
“It was exciting to see if we would get the high-quality applications we did last year when we started the first programme. In the end, we got even more applications and with geographical diversity. We are also happy to see two teams participating outside the Nordic countries. Our aim is to make this programme even better this year together with the University of Helsinki and our partners”, says Mirva Lampinen, the Hub Leader of the EIT FAN Nordic Hub.
Mentors and experts to accelerate startups
Each startup team will be assigned their own mentor who will support the team all through the programme. Besides mentoring, the teams will be offered lectures and workshops on topics ranging from product development and service design to sales, marketing and fundraising.
The EIT FAN Nordic Hub has already attracted mentors and experts from various backgrounds in the food industry as well as the startup scene. New participants are also still welcome.
The University of Helsinki is the main partner in the programme, together with the local partners Valio, HKScan, Pauling-PINC, Tetra Pack, Nordic Foodtech VC and Business Tampere. Altogether, the whole EIT FAN network has more than 40 partners including Nestlé and PepsiCo.
”On our journey to versatile food company we are looking for sustainable solutions to different food moments. We aim our food chain to be carbon neutral by the end of 2040 and are interested to hear what ideas start-ups have for example sustainable packaging or sustainable food production”, says Marianne Nordblom HKScan Director, Product Development, R&D, Packaging.
“When talking about food products, ‘only those who are eaten will survive’. It is great to be a part of such a rapid change that is going on in this sector right now. If last year was dominated by novel protein producers, this year I’m happy to notice the importance of artificial intelligence in the competencies of the teams”, defines Osmo Mattila, a Researcher and Project Coordinator at the University of Helsinki.
Towards competition and funding
The Nordic accelerator programme will culminate in the Demo Day event on the 7th of October, where the start-up teams showcase their businesses to corporates, investors, and the media. All start-ups from each accelerator programme hubs will be welcomed to participate in the European EIT Food Expo to celebrate the end of the programme and results achieved.
“Due to restrictions on public gatherings and travel, we will organize our acceleration programme in hybrid format, with four sprints between June and October partly delivered via a face-to-face workshop, mentoring sessions and events held in Finland,” says Paolo Borella, Senior Specialist from VTT.
In addition to Helsinki, the network has accelerators in Munich, Haifa, Lausanne, Cambridge and Bilbao, each of which offer an acceleration programme for ten teams.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Mirva Lampinen, Hub Leader, Co-Creation Manager, mirva.lampinen(at)vtt.fi, tel. +358 40 674 9233
Paolo Borella, Senior Specialist, Incubation and acceleration, paolo.borella(at)vtt.fi, tel. +358 40 480 8333
University of Helsinki
Maija Tenkanen, Professor, Vice-Dean maija.tenkanen(at)helsinki.fi tel. +358 504150181
Osmo Mattila, Program Coordination, [email protected]. tel. +358 44 0308177