Ten startups participated in the second food acceleration programme at the VTT-led EIT FAN Helsinki Hub. Teams polished their skills and created contacts with the support from industry-leading experts.
The Helsinki-based EIT FAN Helsinki Hub is one of six accelerators in the European Food Accelerator Network (FAN), which aims to promote a sustainable food system. The hub has just completed a four-month acceleration programme with ten startups located in Finland, Sweden, Austria and Belgium. The programme was executed together with University of Helsinki as a main local partner again this year.
“This year’s cohort had great variety of solutions to solve food system challenges. It´s a joy to be able help them to develop business which will make the difference,” says Mirva Lampinen, Co-Creation Manager of VTT and EIT FAN Helsinki Hub Leader.
“It has been again an exciting year to learn about the latest trends in the agrifood sector through these ten great teams. EIT FAN is an excellent fit also for our innovation activities at the recently launched Viikki Food Design Factory,” says Maija Tenkanen, Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki.
The programme culminated in the Demo Day event in Tampere where the startup teams pitched their businesses to investors, partners and media. Shilei Zhang, CCO of Solar Foods, gave a keynote speech about the company’s success story. Solar Foods was one of the alumni startup companies in 2020.
The following startups presented their business ideas at the EIT FAN Helsinki Hub Demo Day 2021: Grönovation, Hooked Foods, Kamupak, NORBITE, Planticus, Revo Foods, Tracegrow, Volare, Whywaste, and Yield Systems.
World-class industry partners to offer expertise
The programme gathered again many of the best industry experts from all over the world to coach the startup teams. Each team got their own mentor and the opportunity to participate in various workshops and lectures given by other experts. This year some of the startups got a chance to participate in two sidetracks provided by the EIT FAN central team: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition.
Experts shared their views on market and regulatory trends as well as their best practices concerning topics ranging from business development and international strategy to fundraising. Teams also gained knowledge from various topics related to agri-food variating from food related consumer trends to environmental impacts of agriculture.
With support from EIT Food Accelerator Network, FAN Helsinki Hub was able to find and attract experts from international corporate partners such as Nestlé, Amcor and Döhler. This year the programme had HKScan, Paulig-PINC, Valio, Tetra Pak, Nordic FoodTech VC, Nordea and Business Tampere as local partners. They provided their support and expertise to startups, and some of the startups started pilots with them.
“We have done successful testing with Paulig by using their side streams for the Volare process and upcycled them into high-quality protein and lipids. The EIT programme has enabled us to build the collaboration swiftly and an inspiring plan for deeper collaboration with Paulig in the future,” says Jarna Hyvönen from Volare, one of the startups participating in the programme.
A new round with new startups starting next year
In January 2022 FAN Helsinki Hub will open the submission to the next acceleration programme. It will be open to startup teams from all Nordic and Baltic countries as well as Poland, and to experts from all over the world.
“Celebrating the end of a successful programme by bringing the local startup ecosystem together is very important. It’s a great time to not only reflect on the many accomplishments to date such as an increasing number of industry connections, pilot projects started and investment rounds closed but also to look ahead into the next year. This is why we feel very honoured to welcome as of next year even more corporate partners to our network who understand the benefits of collaborating with impactful agrifood startups,” says Christoph Mandl, EIT FAN Manager.
Paolo Borella, Specialist incubation and acceleration, paolo.borella(at)vtt.fi, tel. +358 40 480 8333
Mirva Lampinen, Hub Leader,Co-Creation Manager, mirva.lampinen(at)vtt.fi, tel. +358 40 674 9233
Maija Tenkanen, Vice-Dean, maija.tenkanen(at)helsinki.fi, tel. +358 29 415 8410