Nutreco challenge – which feed innovations have made the grade?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock
Dutch feed group, Nutreco, said it has selected 10 finalists for the closing phase of its Feed Tech Challenge event this month in the Netherlands. 

The competition, launched in November 2016, is aimed at connecting start-ups with industry experts and scientists in an attempt to support innovation related to nutrition tackling antibiotic resistance, feed to farm efficiency or early animal diets.

The ten finalists, selected from 44 applications, are, in the main, located in Europe but some hail from North America, Asia, and the Middle East, said Nutreco.

“All these innovations fit one of the three challenge themes we identified and are promising and credible innovations with a proof-of-concept, which we are keen on exploring further. That will happen during the two-day event, 22- 23 February, where they will interact intensively with the jury and are offered the opportunity to get trained in IP, business modelling and pitching,”​ Mark Woldberg, spokesperson for Nutreco, told us. 


The companies in with a chance of sealing the deal include the following:

US based, KnipBio, has developed a series of naturally occurring microbes that convert low-cost feedstock into single-cell proteins containing pigment-enhancing carotenoids aimed at producing healthier, more vibrant fish. Investors recently backed this start-up​ to the tune of $2m.

Irish insect farming company, Hexafly, produces a protein and oil derived from black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, ​and is targeting the aquaculture feed manufacturing industry, among others. 

pepsikan innovation istock
While the ag sector has seen venture capital flowing into it more and more, it lacks the scale of investment of other industries like healthcare: Adam Anders, Anterra Capital

Indonesian operation, eFishery, has developed an integrated feeding system for fish and shrimp farming – the technology monitors fish feed delivery, looking to reduce costs in the process. Dutch aquaculture investment fund, Aqua Spark, has already got behind​ this start-up.

Metabolic Robots is an entrant from Israel. It has a system aimed at optimizing poultry house feed distribution according to actual demand. It also allow real-time monitoring and management aimed at improving broiler house efficiency and profits.

Portugal's FarmControl said its technology allows farmers to monitor and control remotely, in real time, any type of equipment on their farm.

Fodjan, a German company, has developed a web based platform aimed at optimizing livestock feeding. It has received seed capital from High-Tech Gruenderfonds

Another Irish entry is MicroSynbiotiX – that start-up firm produces “cost-effective oral vaccines to combat diseases and infections”​ in aquaculture. It has developed a patent-pending method of producing oral vaccines based on genetically modified microalgae.

Spain's LifeBioencapsulation looks to microencapsulate functional molecules and microorganisms in order to increase their efficacy in case of oral administration.

EKO GEA, located in Slovenia, has designed a method of freeing up all available target compounds in Ascophyllum nodosum​ marine algae that is said to turn it into a “versatile”​ prebiotic tool.

The challenge was also open to start-up teams in established companies, with Dutch firm, Ten Kate, the only one fitting that category in the final 10. It produces protein with antimicrobial and growth enhancing properties, aimed at producing a healthier (young) livestock population with better growth perspectives and reduced use of antibiotics. 

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