Hunt on for next 100 EU agrifood entrepreneurs

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Vladimir Obradovic
© GettyImages/Vladimir Obradovic

Related tags agrifood digital traceability circular food systems Protein Aquaculture

An agrifood innovation initiative, EIT Food, has launched a new search to find the next 100 high-impact agrifood entrepreneurs who can transform the food and animal feed system to one that is healthier, innovative and more sustainable.

The search is open to all types of food and feed innovation, said the organizers of the initiative, which is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

“We have a number of feed innovators already part of the EIT Food community, such as DryGo; it joined as part of the 2020 cohort,”​ a spokesperson told this publication. 

Damian Jourdan, open innovation manager at Danone, comments: “The EIT Food Seedbed program’s focus on customer discovery is really interesting and distinctive – startups need to understand whether they will have customers to buy their product. As a key partner in the network, we’re here to bring value and to help entrepreneurs grow their venture faster with our expertise.”

From aspiring entrepreneurs with new business ideas across universities and education centers, to early stage startups and scaleups wanting to expand internationally, EIT Food said it is looking for ideas and businesses across European markets, designed to have the highest impact when shaping the future of food, and aligned with the EU Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy.

The search focuses on new ideas across six key focus areas: sustainable agriculture, sustainable aquaculture, alternative proteins, digital traceability, circular food systems and targeted nutrition.

The food system faces major challenges if the world is to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and adhere to the Paris Agreement climate targets. Yet, less than 4% of startups in Europe are in the agrifood space, creating a huge market opportunity for innovators, investors and entrepreneurs alike, noted EIT Food, citing a EU report​.

EIT Food outlined how, through its various programs, it has provided more than €10m in direct financial support to businesses in 2020, enabling entrepreneurs to grow and scale their impact faster, from help with market testing new ideas, providing access to experts, connections to corporate partners across the food [and feed] industry, and support with investors.

“Last year, successful EIT Food startups raised more than €91m in external investments as a result of the program.”

Whether applicants join the EIT Food Seedbed program as an early-stage startup looking to verify their proposition and market, the Food Accelerator Network to gain access to tools, connections and expertise, or the RisingFoodStars Association to scale and reach new markets, EIT Food said companies will gain support and mentorship as part of the vibrant and diverse EIT Food community. 

Applications will open early next year and close in Spring 2021. Potential candidates can register their interest here​.

Online venture summit 

A virtual EIT Food Venture Summit, on November 17-18 2020, will allow investors and corporates to explore commercial partnerships and investment opportunities with 130+ high-impact startups, said the organizers.

And that event will see the EIT Food Accelerator Network (EIT FAN) also announce the winners of its 2020 program. The 14 finalists, which include Finnish SCP innovator, eniferBio and German insect protein turn-key company, FarmInsect, are invited to compete for three prizes, consisting of €100K each.

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