VTT has set up an accelerator in partnership with the University of Helsinki and Valio to help food industry start-ups grow fast and reach the international market. The accelerator is part of European network of six accelerators, EIT FAN, the aim of which is to promote a sustainable food system.
Innovations that revolutionise the market often come from start-ups, but their realisation may also require input from established companies. VTT seeks to bring food production start-ups and veterans together as early as possible.
- In the new accelerator led by VTT, start-up teams will be mentored and coached by experienced professionals from food research, production and marketing. At the same time, these experts can familiarise themselves with the world of start-ups. We expect the accelerator to consolidate the network of food industry companies and contribute to the success of Finnish companies on the international market. At best, the accelerator will also attract foreign start-ups and investments to Finland, says VTT's Co-Creation Manager Mirva Lampinen.
Cooperation between three partners ensures that the new accelerator will cover all areas of a sustainable food system. Start-up teams can take advantage of VTT's in-depth expertise in, for example, plant proteins or fibre, but equally in the management of the entire food system or related services. The University of Helsinki supplements the repertoire with, among other things, agricultural and nutrition research and Valio with knowledge of food product commercialisation and dairy product knowhow.
Success stories from the network of accelerators
The new accelerator is the latest newcomer in the EIT Food Accelerator Network (FAN), which is coordinated and largely also funded by the European EIT Food research network. In addition to Helsinki, the network has accelerators in Munich, Haifa, Lausanne, Cambridge and Bilbao, and European start-up teams can apply for all of them. This year's application process will end on 10 March, and participants selected by a panel of impartial experts will begin a four-month acceleration project next summer. At the end of the year, teams will compete for the best innovations and also for monetary prizes.
The first accelerators of the EIT FAN network were launched three years ago, and some start-ups are already on the verge of success with the help of significant funding. For example, Redefine Meat, which started from the accelerator in Haifa, raised more than EUR 5 million in funding following the accelerator programme and plans to use it to produce meat substitutes by 3D printing.
Food & Beyond ecosystem
The Food & Beyond exosystem sits creative thinkers and enablers at the same table to create impactful food solutions for now and tomorrow.