All posts by Bram van Beek

Asian Dairy Giant Yili Partners Up With StartLife To Connect To Visionary Ag & Food Startups

Yili, Asia’s biggest and fast-growing dairy company, is now officially partnering with the agrifoodtech accelerator StartLife. Through the partnership Yili strengthens its access to a very large ecosystem of innovative agriculture and healthy food startups to help overcome future challenges facing the industry, including those emerging over the next decade and beyond.

The collaboration with StartLife enables Yili to tap in to the global ecosystem of visionary agrifoodtech start-up and scale-up companies. Together with entrepreneurs and other partners Yili will also brainstorm new ideas and facilitate the exchange of conversation across the industry.

“Yili will be a catalyst in enabling startups to get access to the fast-growing healthy food market in China and the rest of Asia.“ ~ Jan Meiling

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife, stated ”This partnership will result in new win-win collaborations, such as proof of concept projects to deliver integrated solutions. It’s great to welcome Yili as strategic partner, as they will be a catalyst in enabling startups to get access to the fast-growing healthy food market in China and the rest of Asia.“

Yili Innovation Center Europe: gateway to Asia

StartLife and Yili team members

Yili ranks among the Global Dairy Top 5 and has sustained an undisputable position of No. 1 in Asia for seven successive years. Yili has the ambition to become the most-trusted healthy food provider across the world. Yili Innovation Center Europe (YICE), that is located in the same building complex as StartLife on Wageningen Campus, is the innovation bridge to Yili in China.

“From this agrifood hotspot we constantly work with European partners on research and knowledge transfer.” ~ Gerrit Smit

Gerrit Smit, Managing Director of YICE, comments “Our research facility has been part of the Food Valley region since 2013. From this agrifood hotspot we constantly work with European partners on research and knowledge transfer in the field of processing technology, new product development, food safety, and farmer management. With Europe’s leading agrifoodtech accelerator as our neighbor, it only made sense to partner up with StartLife to reach out to and include startups in our wider eco-system.”

Calling innovative agrifoodtech startups

Caroline Bijkerk, Corporate Partnerships Manager of StartLife, believes YICE, StartLife and agrifood startups have much in common, among which an entrepreneurial mindset and a drive to co-develop a healthy and sustainable food system. Gerrit agrees, “Our research and development center has the feel of a startup: plenty of room for entrepreneurship without a fixed trajectory.”

Caroline is looking forward to connecting innovative agrifoodtech startups to Yili. If you like to be connected to Yili, send Caroline a message.

About Yili

Founded in 1956, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. (Yili Group) has been the largest dairy producer in Asia. Utilizing technology, Yili aims to build the world’s leading R&D and industry-university research cooperation platform for the health food industry.

Yili was awarded “China’s Best Practices” of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative in 2017, and ranks third in “Top 50 Most Valuable Food Brands in the World” by Brand Finance in 2019.

The group proactively sources high-quality milk from the golden belt area in Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Americas and aims to become the world’s most trusted health food provider.

Note: on photo (from left to right) Caroline Bijkerk (Corporate Partnerships Manager, StartLife), Jan Meiling (Managing director, StartLife), Gerrit Smit (managing Director of Yili Innovation Center) and Matthias Eisner (Senior Scientist Product & Process Technology at YICE) at the reception room of Yili Innovation center in the Plus Ultra I building on Wageningen Campus.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Pymwymic And WUR Join Forces In Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II

Impact investor Pymwymic has launched its Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II which is aimed at supporting innovative ideas and technologies in the domain of sustainable food systems. Pymwymic has also entered into a strategic partnership with Wageningen University & Research to source and analyze potential launching investments.

Throughout the world, there is a visible shift in agricultural production, the way our food is processed and transported and in our diets. This is the result of climate change, sustainability, living and working conditions for farmers and other businesses involved in our food system, and the desire to provide sufficient food for all. Moreover, there is an increasing focus on healthy food.

Agrifood Startups

In addition to farmers, small businesses and corporates, governments, consumers and researchers, agrifood startups are highly relevant in this transition. They face the challenge of implementing novel solutions in a complex sector. This is why an investment fund is needed with a long-term perspective that understands the challenges these startups face and supports them in their development.

However, merely providing money is not a solution. Thus, the expertise of Wageningen University & Research scientists is indispensable. They know, like no others, what innovations in a particular domain may influence a possible gamechanger in another domain. This interdisciplinary approach is one of the reasons Wageningen scientists are highly acclaimed in the international world of research.

Sustainable food systems

Ivo Demmers is programme manager at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). He supervises an interdisciplinary team of researchers involved in studying how we may transform our current food system into a more sustainable alternative. Demmers feels that investors such as Pymwymic are instrumental in helping startups reach their next development stage. ‘My role within WUR is to build partnerships and to bridge the gap between the experts and scientists that work with us and the outside world.

By getting Pymwymic on board, we are able to add a new perspective -that of the impact investor- to the organizations we already collaborate with, such as corporates, development banks and international research institutes. All these parties are valuable.

‘The way Pymwymic operates is complementary to WUR. Pymwymic is pioneering in this respect, so we knew it would be an excellent party with which to collaborate.’ Ivo Demmers, programme manager at WUR

Impact investing

With the closing of the Healthy Ecosystems Impact Fund I, Pymwymic announces its next fund specifically focused on driving the food system transition. The Pymwymic Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II invests in innovative ‘impact companies’ and will have a size of approximately €60 million.

Current investments of Pymwymic include  Ceradis (develops nature-friendly fungicides), InspiraFarms (refrigerated containers for small farmers mainly in developing countries), Trapview (smart system to monitor insects in the fields), Rootwave (electric weed control), Naïo technologies (self-driving field robots), Connecterra (‘fitbit’ for cows), Yooji (baby food without artificial additives) and Augmenta (real-time crop analysis on tractors).

“Companies and shareholders invite us to come on board as a shareholder to safeguard and embed the positive impact being pursued into the daily operations of the company.” Rogier Pieterse, Managing Director Pymwymic

Pymwymic’s investment approach draws on deep sector expertise from WUR and is founded on the academic framework “The Food System Approach. With nearly three decades of experience investing in impactful companies, ensuring the positive “impact” of a company is characteristic of Pymwymic’s approach and role. As a shareholder, it plays an active role in embedding impact in a company’s governance, developing and impact strategy, and measuring and managing impact goals.

Shaping the collaboration

The partnership brings together two organizations with a rich history – Pymwymic as one of the oldest impact investors in Europe, and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) having over 100 years’ research expertise making them the largest innovation hub of agricultural technology in the world.

As part of the collaboration, WUR experts will join the Pymwymic Investment Committee and Impact Committee. Moreover, Pymwymic collaborates with StartLife, that also holds responsibility for the annual F&A Next summit, where startups, investors, and corporates meet and learn from each other.

The parties will not enter into an overarching partnership but focus on Pymwymic’s new fund Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II.

Yield Lab Europe Expands Agrifood Fund And Partners Up With StartLife

The Yield Lab Europe has announced almost €50 million at second close for its sustainable agrifoodtech venture capital fund, investing in seed- to Series A-stage companies in Europe. They will also open an office on Wageningen Campus as part of a new partnership with StartLife. The Yield Lab Europe will be investor-in-residence with StartLife and actively investing in European agrifoodtech startups.

The Yield Lab Europe and StartLife have joined forces to collectively help promising agrifoodtech startups to scale and commercialize internationally. Investments will be made in startups with technologies that improve the environmental and carbon footprint of the food and agriculture industries, to support the vision and implementation of the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy.

Decarbonizing agriculture and food

Commenting on the fund close, Chairman Paul Finnerty said: “We believe that zero-carbon agriculture and food production is a tremendous opportunity and can be achieved by 2040. We have invested and will continue to invest in technologies to enable this transition, to position European agriculture as a global leader in decarbonizing agriculture and food.”

With their mutual interest in achieving a sustainable food system, Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife, wholeheartedly welcomes The Yield Lab Europe to StartLife’s startup community and hub on Wageningen Campus.

“We look forward to working together and exploiting synergies of our shared competencies and resources.”

Jan Meiling: “We look forward to working together and exploiting synergies of our shared competencies and resources. With StartLife providing business development support, coaching and access to a global network in food & agri. And The Yield Lab adding their funding power and of course their own global network and expertise.”

In the heart of Food valley

Nicky Deasy and David Bowles, managing partners of The Yield Lab Europe, said: “We have known StartLife for quite some time already and are impressed with the quality of their business support to startups and their ability to scout and attract some of the best agrifoodtech startups in Europe.

“We look forward to opening an office in the heart of Food valley”

“We look forward to opening an office next to StartLife, in the heart of Food valley and home of Wageningen University & Research, a globally recognized leader in agrifoodtech innovation and sustainability.”

Lin Zhu, investor relations manager at StartLife, adds “We are open for business, so please contact StartLife if you are interested in raising smart capital, thus funding, expertise and network.”

About Yield Lab Europe

Yield Lab Europe is a leading funder of early stage agrifood and agtech companies that revolutionize agriculture and food systems seeking to sustainably feed the world. Yield Lab Europe provides venture capital funding up to two million euro per company.​ In addition to providing capital, it provides access to a global network of experts, corporates and investors to enable companies to successfully grow and commercialize internationally.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


Vacancy: Startup Scout at StartLife

Are you eager to help accelerate agrifoodtech startups that shape a sustainable food system? And do you have strong (online) detective skills? StartLife is looking for a Startup Scout. In this position you fulfill a key role in our startup accelerator:  scouting promising food & agtech startups that we give a boost forward with our support programs.

About the position

As Startup Scout you have one main aim: scouting the best European food & agtech startups for our programs. You find and select the most impactful European early phase agrifoodtech startups for our Accelerate program. You match startups with our global corporates and investors to make an impact. As a contact person for our startups and corporates you will help to organize meetups with those partners.

You’ll grow fast in this role, get to know the startup scene inside-out, meet the most inspiring impact-driven Food & Agri startups, come across breakthrough technologies and work with an amazing team at StartLife!

You’ll quickly grow your network and build relations with leading food & agriculture companies and startup hubs.

What you will do as Startup Scout at StartLife

As one of our two Startup Scouts, you:

  • Participate in offline and online agrifood events to identify startups for our programs and act as direct point of contact for new startups
  • Engage with our global Food & Agtech corporate partners on their innovation challenges and our VC partners on dealflow
  • Manage relations with other startup accelerators/incubators in Europe to identify potential startups
  • Manage online channels and social media to identify and connect to potential startups
  • (Help) organizing meet & greets, selection days, demo days, and other virtual / hybrid meetups.

What we ask from you

  • You completed a bachelor / master in food technology, biotechnology or a related field
  • You understand and like agrifoodtech startups, startup experience is a strong plus
  • You speak and write excellent English and preferably Dutch
  • You are a go-getter, you get things done and you are confident, for instance to engage with corporate executives
  • You’re an active social media user and love organizing online meetings

What we offer you

As a Startup Scout, you will work in a young, international team of 14 people on Wageningen Campus in the Plus Ultra II building – the heart of the agrifood startup community. We offer a dynamic position with responsibility from day one.

Your monthly salary depends on your knowledge and experience; gross minimum € 2,158 and a maximum of € 2,932 based on a full working week (36 hours). The duration of the employment contract is initially for one year via Randstad Payrolling with the intention to extend.

About StartLife

StartLife is Europe’s longest running and leading agrifoodtech accelerator. Its mission is to accelerate agrifoodtech startups shaping a sustainable food system. We provide business development support, mentoring, non-dilutive funding and access to a global community of startups, investors, corporates and experts. Since 2010 the accelerator, that was co-founded by Wageningen University & Research, has supported over 300 agrifoodtech startups that have raised over €180 million follow-on capital.


Please let us know why you are the perfect fit for the job as Startup Scout and send your cv and motivation to our Operations Director at By doing so, you agree that we process your data.

For more information about the content of this function, please contact Laura Thissen on +31 6 2241 0815, or Carla van Heck (Startup Analyst) on +31 6 1431 7403.

Surfix’s Biophotonic Diagnostic Platform Attracts €8.5M Investment

Surfix announces an investment of €8.5M by a Dutch consortium consisting of Lionix International, Qurin Diagnostics, Photondelta and Oost NL. Surfix will use the investment to accelerate the development of its plug-and-play diagnostics platform for all sorts of point-of-core tests. The initial target applications are early cancer diagnosis, Covid-19 detection and tracing of pathogens in water for aquaculture.

Point-of-care diagnostics refers to performing molecular tests anywhere and anytime, i.e. without having to send samples to laboratories for analysis. Testing on the spot is more convenient, faster and cheaper. The availability of a quick and reliable tests would mean a huge step forward in the fight against the current and future pandemics. The ultimate goal for Surfix is to make a test that is available for the masses and at the cost of only a few euros.

Maarten Buijs, CEO of Surfix, is clearly excited about the investment: “Our drive is to bring point-of-care diagnostics to the next level. In combination with the network and experience of the two Dutch public-private organizations Oost NL and Photondelta, the leading-edge integrated photonics technology of LioniX and the medical knowledge of Qurin, the investment will allow us to take on the industrialization of our solution and clinically validate the exciting results in biomarker detection obtained to date.”.

Senior Investment Manager Tech Pieter Klinkert of Oost NL believes that the solution of Surfix supports the important ecosystem of photonic biochips and microfluidics which Oost NL acknowledges as key enabling technologies and that the company can realize a breakthrough in the field of diagnostics based on photonics.

Surfix, a StartLife alumnus, was founded as a spin-off from Wageningen University & Research and has been very successful as a provider of R&D services in the field of nano-coatings for biosensors and microfluidic devices. The company now focuses on the development and marketing of its plug-and-play diagnostics platform which can be used to detect viruses, DNA and RNA, proteins like antibodies and antigens, and other biomolecules.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

PHYSEE (Par+) Closes Series A With €8M Total

PHYSEE concluded its Series A investment round by raising another 4 million euro. The company has now raised in total 8 million euro in growth capital to fund the European roll-out of its smart and sustainable building platform SENSE and to accelerate the industrialization of its light-converting coatings, PAR+.

PHYSEE, a spin-off from the Technical University of Delft, is an expert in the development of light-converting coatings. By adding PHYSEE’s proprietary POWER+ coating, which has recently seen great progress, windows will be able to generate power, making buildings energy neutral. Within this coating domain PHYSEE is also close to commercializing its agricultural PAR+ coating, which converts UV light into PAR light, allowing crops to grow 7% faster in greenhouses. Once successful, the coating will significantly contribute to meeting the world’s growing food demand in a sustainable manner.

Coen van Oostrom, CEO of EDGE, which has participated again in this investment round after an initial investment in 2019, states: “The biggest challenge facing the real industry today is making our built environment healthier, sustainable and more inspiring. I am certain that innovation is and will remain the one true enabler for a much-needed revolution and PHYSEE is one of those companies that perfectly embodies this. I have been a huge fan of PHYSEE from day one and I am very excited to continue our support for the coming years.”

CEO and co-founder Ferdinand Grapperhaus jr.: “The fact that we have been able to quickly close the second half of our Series A investment round by attracting capital from new and existing investors, is a testament to PHYSEE’s potential and the focus from leading real estate developers to invest in sustainable and comfort increasing technology. We look forward to deploying this new capital to accelerate the roll-out of our smart and sustainable building platform and to speed up the commercialization of our light-converting coatings.”

The growth capital was raised from new investors Phase2. Earth and Adunare and existing investors Job Dura and EDGE. The first half of the investment was closed last January.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Free Research Capacity: Wageningen Student Projects

Wageningen Students working on Consulting project

Innovative ideas do not always lead to completely developed projects, due to lack of time and / or creative energy. Students of Wageningen University & Research may offer a solution to this problem. In different courses, BSc and MSc students work in groups on a project supplied by external commissioners. Education Project Services (Onderwijsloket) iscontinuously looking for organizations with an interesting subject for groups of students to work on.

Interdisciplinary Consultancy Team (8 weeks)

Do you have an challenging research assignment for an interdisciplinary academic consultancy team to work on for eight consecutive weeks? Within the master of science course Academic Consultancy Training, students work together in multi-disciplinary teams of five to seven students to address specific real-life queries set by societal and private organizations. Projects run for eight weeks, in which the students work part-time for three weeks and full time for five weeks.

Student backgrounds:

Biosystems Engineering; Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management; Animal Sciences; Bioinformatics; Biology; Biobased Sciences; Communication, Health and Life Sciences; Climate Studies; Earth and Environment; Environmental Sciences; Forest and Nature Conservation; International Development Studies; Leisure, Tourism and Environment; Management, Economics and Consumer Studies; Molecular Life Sciences; Nutrition and Health; Organic Agriculture; Plant Biotechnology; Plant Sciences; Urban Environmental Management.

Practical information

  • The ACT course is organized five times a year (project application deadline in between brackets)
    • Sept – Oct (Friday, 28 May 2021)
    • Nov – Dec (Friday, 27 Aug 2021)
    • Jan – Mar (Friday, 22 Oct 2021)
    • Mar – Apr (Friday, 14 Jan 2022)
    • May – July (Friday, 11 Mar 2022)
  • Due to the participation of international students, the project will be executed in English.
  • An administrative fee of 50 euros applies. In addition, you are to reimburse expenses such as travel expenses, printing costs, etc. of the students.

If you are interested to learn more about this opportunity, please contact Jelle van Leeuwen. (See contact details below.)


Product Quality Literature Research (4 weeks)

If you have a research question regarding the product quality of a food product or opportunities for product and process improvements, than third-year bachelor’s students of the Food Technology program may be able to help you out. In the course Case Studies Product Quality groups of five to six students will work four weeks full time on your assignment.

Students integrate the various disciplines in food technology: food microbiology, food processing, food chemistry and food physics, together with aspects such as market science, consumer, legislation or economy. The students will deliver an advice or design based on scientific literature; practical work is not at the core of this course.

Practical information

  • The course is given from February to March.
  • Due to the participation of international students, the project will be executed in English. For commissioners, participation in the course is free.
  • The commissioner is expected to have contact with the students during a kick-off meeting, and throughout the project to give feedback and expertise.

Interested? Please contact Jelle van Leeuwen by 1 December 2021 at the latest. (See contact details below)

Contact Education Project Service

Interested in learning more about how students of Wageningen University & Research can be of help to you, please contact:

Jelle van Leeuwen
Project Leader Education Project Service at Wageningen University & Research
T: + 31 317 485 314


Döhler Ventures and StartLife Boosting Healthy Nutrition Innovation

Early-stage venture capital firm Döhler Ventures and StartLife announced today that they extend their running strategic partnership for another three years. The partnership is aimed at supporting startups that apply innovative technologies to develop healthy, natural nutrition and food ingredients.

Startups are a driving force in developing much needed innovative technologies that help develop safe and nutritious food in a sustainable way for our growing world population. But technology alone is not sufficient. To make a true impact, startups need investors for their belief and corporates for their mass impact.

“At StartLife all these parties come together which makes it a great platform for all parties involved, including us,” comments Rodrigo Hortega de Velasco, Venture Manager at Döhler Ventures.

Going above and beyond

Lin Zhu, Investor Relations Manager of StartLife, remarks that Döhler has gone above and beyond in supporting startups.

“Döhler Ventures provides startups in-depth industry insights and warm connections to relevant parties in their network. Next to being a seasoned investor, Rodrigo is also one of our much appreciated startup mentors. He is very approachable, supportive and highly committed to help startups overcome challenges and to grow. Clearly, we are very happy to continue our collaboration for the years to come.”

In for the long run

Döhler commits to partnerships for the long run. “That counts for the startups we invest in as well as our strategic partnership with StartLife,” says Rodrigo.

“We are pleased with the high-quality and relevant startups that StartLife has introduced us to. “

“We are pleased with the high-quality and relevant startups that StartLife has introduced us to. With some we are exploring partnership and investment opportunities. In addition, we highly appreciate the added value of being part of the StartLife ecosystem, and firmly support the ecosystem’s further growth. We definitely look forward to meeting and supporting more promising agrifood startups in the years to come with StartLife at our side.”

About Döhler Ventures

Döhler Ventures is the investment branch of the Döhler Group; a global producer, marketer and provider of technology-based natural ingredients, ingredient systems and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industries.
Every day millions of people around the world consume food and beverage products that contain Döhler ingredients, including natural flavors and colors, dairy and plant-based ingredients as well as (dry) fruit, vegetable and fermented ingredients. With their early stage VC firm, Döhler Ventures, the company invests in startups that focus on the healthy, nutrition products and plant-based ingredient innovations.


p.s. You can follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

StartLife Welcomes Time-travelling Milkman And Innogusto In Startup Offices

Plus Ultra II on Wageningen Campus

StartLife alumnus Time-travelling Milkman and Innogusto have joined the startup community located in Plus Ultra II, the newest multi-tenant building on Wageningen Campus. The two startups recently moved into one of the spaces dedicated to agrifoodtech startups, an initiative of StartLife, Wageningen University & Research and Kadans.

Time-travelling Milkman: sustainable fat ingredients

Time-travelling Milkman is a Wageningen University & Research spin-off producing sustainable fat ingredients. The aim is to improve the acceptability of plant-based products to accelerate the transition towards plant-based diets for a sustainable future. Their new office in Plus Ultra II will enable them to develop the character of their team.

“The presence of StartLife, StartHub and more importantly of the ecosystem of startups makes us feel part of the community” said Dimitris Karefyllakis, CEO of Time-travelling Milkman.

Innogusto: plant-based protein

Innogusto‘s mission is to make the protein shift from animal to plant-based protein seamless. They develop products based on meat, fish and dairy alternatives with the highest level of attractiveness — in the broadest sense of the word. Their expertise focuses on innovative new protein food concepts integrated with branding.

Innogusto chose Plus Ultra II because of its dynamic ecosystem that allows them to connect with other enthusiastic businesses and startups and thrive to become an international player.

Plus Ultra II: vibrant agrifood community

Plus Ultra II offers office and lab space to startups, scale-ups and established companies and organizations that aspire to contribute to a vibrant community concerning agri & food and a healthy living environment. Tech startups in their next phase of development can lease dedicated office space on the first floor of Plus Ultra II. On Wageningen Campus, knowledge institutions, the business sector and startups connect and exchange experiences. Additionally, any member of the community of Plus Ultra II can also benefit from the international network of science parks and campuses of Kadans.

Also interested in startup offices at Plus Ultra II? Check here for more information.

p.s. You can follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

StartLife Partners With Leading Agricultural Manufacturer, Kubota

Kubota, the world’s leading agricultural manufacturer, has partnered with StartLife. By joining forces, the two organizations will work to identify challenges facing the agriculture sector, brainstorm new ideas and facilitate the exchange of conversation among partners in the industry. Kubota will also tap into StartLife’s ecosystem of visionary agrifoodtech startups to usher in fresh collaborations, such as pilots and proof of concept projects to deliver integrated solutions.

For both Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife, and Peter van der Vlugt, General Manager of Kubota Innovation Center Europe, the partnership was a logical step, since both parties recently moved into the same office building on Wageningen Campus.

Collaboration: overcoming present and future challenges

With World Headquarters in Osaka, Japan, Kubota has been a frontrunner in the manufacture of agricultural equipment for over 130 years and has over 40,000 employees and offices in more than 120 countries across North America, Europe and Asia.

Through this partnership with StartLife, Kubota has access to a whole ecosystem of innovative agriculture startups to help overcome challenges facing the industry, including those emerging over the next decade and beyond.

Kubota also believes that this collaboration will generate a wide range of benefits for farmers, who are central to Kubota´s innovation efforts both now and in the future.

“As our neighbors in the FoodValley cluster, it would have been a missed opportunity for us not to partner with StartLife…”

Daria Batukhtina, Business Development Manager at Kubota Group Innovation Center Europe, comments:

“As our neighbors in the FoodValley cluster, it would have been a missed opportunity for us not to partner with StartLife, who we deem a very important facilitator in the agriculture ecosystem. We also believe they encompass the entrepreneurial spirit needed to face the challenges of the future.”

“The partnership was the next logical step for us in achieving our goal to accomplish activities with early-stage startups and open the door for new collaborations, such as pilots or proof of concept projects. We look forward to beginning this journey with StartLife.”

Expanding an ecosystem of expertise

Kubota is StartLife’s 11th corporate partner and will help bring a wealth of expertise to its ecosystem of startup members. Due to Kubota’s global footprint, StartLife also sees the collaboration as an opportunity to strengthen its presence outside the Netherlands, expanding its horizons across the world.

Global Partnerships Manager at StartLife, Caroline Bijkerk, comments:

“It is fantastic to have a new corporate partner in our community, especially a company so very well established in corporate startup engagement such as Kubota.”

“We at StartLife already have a very clear strategy of how to move forward with Kubota and we eagerly anticipate working together in the future.”

About Kubota

Kubota Corporation has been a leading manufacturer of agricultural, turf, hay and construction equipment since 1890. Since its founding, Kubota has placed considerable resources and investment into understanding and overcoming the agricultural challenges farmers face, by working closely with them worldwide. The brand statement, “For Earth, For Life”, speaks of Kubota’s commitment to the preservation of the earth’s natural environment while aiding the production of food and water supplies that are vital to societal needs as our world population continues to grow.


Note: on photo (from left to right) Peter van der Vlugt (General Manager, Kubota Innovation Center Europe), Caroline Bijkerk (Corporate Partnerships Manager, StartLife) and Jan Meiling (Managing director, StartLife) in front of Plus Ultra II building on Wageningen Campus.


Icos Capital and StartLife Unite Forces In Building Agrifood Scale-ups

Announcement Icos Capital-StartLife Partnership

Icos Capital, a market-leading collaborative venture capital firm, has joined StartLife as investor partner. The partnership will see Icos Capital tap into StartLife’s sizable ecosystem while addressing the needs of agrifoodtech startups that are seeking guidance and investment.

Collaboration: a strategic approach to startup growth

Icos Capital is the sector’s premier early growth stage investor in Europe with investments in companies like Nutrileads (a StartLife alumnus), Gamaya, Innovopro and Bioactor. Icos and StartLife share their collaborative approach in which startups, corporates and investors are united to facilitate growth and impact for startups. The company believes that the new collaboration will help it tap into StartLife’s sizable ecosystem and actively engage with early and scale-up phase startups in the agrifood industry. Startups which could benefit significantly from meaningful training and business development support.

Founder and CEO of Icos Capital, Nityen Lal, comments: “We are impressed by the origination and professional contribution of StartLife to the agrifood venture capital industry. As an early stage venture capital firm with substantial interest in the agrifood sector, we look forward to working closely with StartLife and hope to meet high quality startups that have been curated and guided by the StartLife team.” 

International agrifoodtech startups

For StartLife, the partnership will address agrifoodtech startups that are seeking guidance and investment, helping them to progress through the growth challenges into becoming scale ups. StartLife also sees the deal as an opportunity to strengthen its presence outside the Netherlands and expand internationally across the world. 

Investor Relations Manager at StartLife, Lin Zhu, comments: As one of the top agrifood investors, it is exciting to engage in a new partnership with Icos Capital. It feels very natural for us to build a relationship with the company as there is a lot of overlap in our ambitions and the ecosystems we are embedded in.” 

“We believe Icos will be able to provide valuable, honest feedback to the companies in our ecosystem to better serve startups, not just at the domestic level, but also helping them to succeed internationally.”

About Icos Capital

Icos Capital is a collaborative venture capital firm working at the intersection of digital and sustainable industry. The firm engages corporations and financial institutions in a collaborative partnership to facilitate growth of promising scale-ups. Since 2005, Icos Capital has backed 20 ambitious startups and scale-ups at the intersection of digital and sustainable industry. Through collaborative venturing, Icos Capital has supported and continues to support companies with high potential to transform foodtech, agritech and industrial digitization. 


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

F&A Next 2021: Impact of Innovation

F&A Next 2021

On 26 May, StartLife and partners welcome the world’s leading tech startups, scale-ups, investors and corporates in food & agriculture at the annual F&A Next summit. In addition to the opportunity to virtually meet and greet all the participants, the summit will showcase some of the most promising food and agtech startups, and moderate debates between leading experts on developments in zero carbon, proteins, scaling agrifood innovation and the digitization of the F&A industry.

For the sixth consecutive year, StartLife helps bring together entrepreneurs, investors and corporates from all over the world to facilitate connection and partnerships to build a sustainable food system and a better deal for all. With innovation in food and agriculture having gained momentum over the past few years, this year’s edition of F&A Next zooms in on the impact of innovation; what innovations truly disrupted our food system.

Last year, global investments in food and agtech were up over 30% to some USD 26 bln. It cannot be denied that the pandemic has had an influence, but has it irrevocably changed ‘life as we know it’? On 26 May, the impact of innovation on the agrifood industry and consumer behavior will be discussed by top executives and opinion leaders, including

Also eight promising food and agtech startups, known as the Next Heroes in Food & Agtech, will present themselves. And participants of F&A Next are among the first to receive Agfunder’s European Agrifoodtech Investing Report 2021.

F&A Next 2021 is enabled by StartLife, Rabobank, Anterra Capital, Wageningen University & Research and Foodvalley NL, with the support of Invest-NL, ICL, EIT Food Rising Stars and numerous network partners. With well over 1,100 participants and a high viewer rating (8.8/10) for its first virtual edition last year, the second virtual edition promises to be another great success.

Visit the website to view the complete program.

Join us! As co-founder of F&A Next we offer you a 25% discount on the ticket prize. Apply the code: SL-FaNxt21



Cricket and Grasshopper Meat Producer Burgs Foods Is Served Funding

Burgs Foods, a young Dutch insect-based food producer, has raised funding from early-stage venture capitalist Unknown Group. The funding is to aid Burgs Foods in its goal for every European to eat at least one meal per week made of insect meat by 2030.

Under the established brand, De Krekerij, Burgs Foods, a StartLife startup alumnus, has rapidly grown to the role of pioneer of the Dutch market in the domain of cricket and grasshopper-made alternative meat products. Last summer their mini sausage rolls filled with crickets were shining on the shelves in all Lidl stores in the Netherlands,
and co-founder Sander Peltenburg was named into the prestigious Dutch Food100 list of entrepreneurs changing the food landscape.

Cricket to Ride

The products of Burgs Foods, which include traditional burgers, meatballs and sausage rolls, along with new classics like pulled grasshopper are characterized by three core features:

  1. a unique umami flavor,
  2. nutrient-rich in nature, and
  3. sustainable.

With these product features Burgs Foods is riding the wave called ‘alternative protein foods’, or should we say, playing the food game ‘cricket to ride’, a movement in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, aimed at feeding the world with improved nutrition that are sustainably produced. Indeed, Burgs Foods’ products lead to significantly less environmental impact and greater resource efficiency in consuming insects as compared to livestock.

The Unknown

Edward de Jager, Chairman of Unknown Group said: ”We have known Sander Peltenburg and George Brandenburg, the co-founders of Burgs Foods, for a long time already and consider them strong and dynamic founders. Furthermore, their changemaking contribution to the future of the food industry is driven by sustainable motivation. We see enormous potential in this industry and these founders, and that’s why we welcome them to venture into the Unknown and beyond.”

Sanders mentions that the investment from Unknown Group will be used to strategically and sustainably grow their business by increasing their processing capacity, building partnerships to bring their products to market and marketing their products. On immediate goals, he adds: “We want to raise the level of our production facility to the highest possible safety standards – FSSC 22000. When we reach this, we are able to produce our products under white label for the professional food market throughout Europe. This brings our products to shelves and menus around the continent!”

Big & Hairy

Burgs Foods goals can be called Big and Hairy, which does not refer to the size and skin of their food ingredients, but to their big hairy audacious goal of having every European eat, or should we say try, at least one insect-based meat meal per week by 2030. With their unique insect processing technologies they intend to become the food factory of the future for everything related to processing insects into food. We look forward to Burgs Foods making its ‘big whopper’ up next.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Meet These 8 New Impact-driven Agrifoodtech Startups 

In April, StartLife welcomes its sixth cohort of startups that help build a future-proof food ecosystem. The selected startups introduce novel technologies and solutions including 3D food printing, computational designed enzymes, botanical biopesticide and AI-driven greenhouses. On June 24th the startups present themselves during a live online pitching event.

Let’s take you on a trip from the UK to Israel, via Austria and Switzerland, and back to the Netherlands for an introductory round to eight innovative agrifoodtech startups that are embarking on a journey, in cooperation with StartLife, to make their sustainable mark on our planet.

  • CellulaREvolution (United Kingdom) – Continuous cell-culturing technologies
  • Metabolic Insights (Israel) – Novel biopesticides based on botanical molecules
  • Enzymit (Israel) – Designing novel enzymes with computational algorithms
  • Revo Foods (Austria) – Producing plant-based seafood with 3D food printing
  • Sera Intelligence (Switzerland) – AI-driven horticultural consultant in your pocket
  • Blomitec (Netherlands) – Breeding disease-resistant crops
  • Cano-ela (Netherlands) – Plant-based ingredients less refined and more functional
  • Helia Biomonitoring (Netherlands) – Sensors for real-time biomolecular monitoring

Preparing for early growth

These young startups are eager to show the world what they have to offer. “But before taking a plunge into the deep blue ocean, they wisely prepare themselves,” explains Loet Rammelsberg, program director at StartLife.

“In our 12-week program we challenge the startups on every aspect of their business: their technologies, market validation and business model. We have a pretty stellar team of international trainers, coaches, mentors and leading corporates to support the startups. It can be confrontational at times, but we know that at the end of the program the participating startups are in a better position to successfully make their mark in the industry.”

Live virtual pitching event on 24 June

On June 24th, at 15.00 CEST, the startups will present the outcomes of their acceleration program in fine-tuned pitches to a global agrifood community, including investors, corporates, media and other essential stakeholders. If you are interested in joining this ‘virtual graduation day’,  please register via the button below.

powered by Crowdcast


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Ellipsis Drive Raises €1.9M For Its Spatial Data-Sharing Platform

Ellipsis Drive, a provider of a plug-and-play solution for using, sharing, and selling spatial data, announced today its seed round funding of €1.9 million. This funding round was led by Promus Ventures, through its Luxembourg based space investment fund, Orbital Ventures, and had participation from Techstars. 

“We are excited to back the team at Ellipsis. As geospatial datasets become more prevalent we see the need for a solution that enables the geospatial community to store, share and collaborate around these complex datasets and were impressed with the team’s vision and execution to date. We firmly believe Ellipsis Drive has the opportunity to become a standard piece of software infrastructure in the growing geospatial sector”, says Pierre Festal, partner at Promus Ventures. Together with Dr. Jonathan Fentzke, Managing Director at Techstars, Pierre will also be joining the board of Ellipsis.

Ambitious growth

Ellipsis intends to use the funds to continue to expand operations and its business reach.  And they are ambitious. “To empower organizations working with spatial data requires seamless exchange and collaboration between different user types,” says Rosalie van der Maas, CEO at Ellipsis Drive. “This funding will help us introduce Ellipsis Drive as thé solution that makes the now painful exchange of spatial content easy and profitable.”

‘Google Drive’ for spatial data

Ellipsis Drive is a data platform, where producers, users, and owners of spatial data can easily and quickly turn their files into a collaborative online project. The platform allows collaborators to share content and make project edits using tools as well as any browser. “It’s like Google Drive but for spatial data, and much more interoperable” says Minghai Jiang, co-founder and CIO.

Read the complementary article:
Founder Story of Ellipsis: Using Satellite Data and AI To Build A Better World

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Rival Foods Partners Up to Develop Juicy Whole-cut Plant-based Chicken

Rival Foods - Whole-cut Plant-based Chicken

Rival Foods, a Dutch gastronomy startup that produces whole-cuts of plant-based meat, announced a partnership with LIVEKINDLY Collective that aims to fasten the development of a perfect plant-based chicken, bringing a tasty and sustainable alternative for mindful consumers. 

Rival Foods, a StartLife startup alumnus, has developed and commercialized a production process to transform plant-based ingredients into high-quality textured protein foods with an unparalleled fibrous texture, rich mouthfeel and juiciness, using very few clean-label ingredients. They have now partnered up with LIVEKINDLY Collective, a collection of heritage and startup brands on track to become one of the world’s largest plant-based food companies. The partnership is to leverage their complementary knowledge and resources, providing a new model for rapid product innovation.

Compelling in taste and texture

“The key to convincing consumers to change their eating habits is to create delicious plant-based options that are compelling in taste and texture and can truly replace animal products,” said Birgit Dekkers, co-founder of Rival Foods. “One challenge is the fibrous texture of whole plant-based meats and we are able to optimize this requirement and ensure sensory superiority within the plant-based product category.”

Rapid scaling

“Our plant-based food platform is uniquely positioned to scale rapidly and transform the current global food system,” said Kees Kruythoff, CEO and Chairman of LIVEKINDLY Collective. “Through this open innovation model with Rival Foods, we will be able to develop a new generation of innovative, delicious, and nutritious plant-based products that meet the growing global demand for animal-free food.”

StartLife And Pymwymic Facilitating Growth Of Disruptive Agrifoodtech Startups

Worldwide the food supply chain is in dire need of innovations that aid the transition to a healthier and sustainable food system. Agrifoodtech startups with high potential solutions are now given an extra hand to get from pre-revenue stage to growth. Pymwymic, Europe’s oldest impact-driven growth investor, and StartLife, Europe’s first agrifoodtech accelerator, have partnered up to smoothen the transition between these vital startup stages and thus shorten the time needed for promising new agrifood technologies to reach their full potential.

Pymwymic typically only partakes when a startup passes an annual turnover of a half million euro. Through this partnership with StartLife, the impact investor becomes involved at a much earlier stage. This is beneficial for both Pymwymic as well as the startups, explains Rogier Pieterse, their managing director.

“We know how strategic decisions at an early-stage can impact later stage developments. Through early involvement we can help startups to better line up for growth and follow-up funding. By doing so we, both Pymwymic and StartLife, want to help startups reach their full potential faster. And when it comes to follow-up funding, it clearly helps if we have already have developed a good relationship with a startup.”

Impactful growth capital

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the pressing need for sustainable changes in the food system. In order for startups to reach a position where they can truly start making an impact, they need growth capital. For this reason, StartLife has set course to further facilitate accessing growth capital for their portfolio startups. Now we welcome Pymwymic as growth capital partner complementary to ou existing investor partners.

Both Pymwymic and StartLife target impact-driven tech startups from Europe that provide healthy and sustainable solutions within the food supply chain, from farm to fork. “With StartLife predominantly supporting pre-revenue startups and Pymwymic backing early-growth startups to scale up further, our partnership is an excellent symbiosis that paves the road for growth of much desired systemic innovation in the agri and food industry”, comments Lin Zhu, investor relations manager of StartLife.

New Health Food Systems Fund Ahead

The partnership of Pymwymic and StartLife is part of a larger collaboration agreement with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), one of StartLife’s co-founders. In the third quarter of this year, Pymwymic expects to launch a new fund called Healthy Food System Impact Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in early to growth-stage companies which are transforming the food system through innovative and disruptive technologies. The new fund will be based on the sustainable food system approach model designed by WUR.

About Pymwymic

Founded in 1994, Pymwymic is the “Put Your Money Where Your Meaning Is Community”, a co-owned organization of European wealth holders who take a frontrunner role in the transition towards investing with care for people and planet. A community that consists of over 150 individuals, families, entrepreneurs and angel investors of different backgrounds, ages and nationalities. By combining knowledge, passion and money, Pymwymic brings credibility to the impact-investing industry and continuously pushes for higher standards until investing with care for people and planet is the new norm.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Startups Rescue Food In Times Of Corona

Robin Food projectAgrifoodtech accelerator StartLife helps helps food startups turning food waste into new business with Robin Food project.

Annual revenues in the food service market are expected to plummet to 50% this year. At the same time food surpluses are skyrocketing. It is a direct effect of Covid-19 measures as the food service market has almost come to a full stop. With the Robin Food initiative StartLife aims to rescue food from going to waste and help food startups to survive the crisis by developing new food products from food surpluses.

Due to quality and compliance restrictions the food supplies that were intended for restaurants, cafes and similar food businesses cannot be easily transferred to supermarkets and other food retailers. So what to do with all this food surpluses? At StartLife, the Dutch startup accelerator that is tied to the agricultural university in Wageningen, they believe the answer lies in the combination of the innovative power of startups and the mass scale of large retailers. “We are all in this together. If we leverage the strength of all parties involved we can turn this problem into an opportunity.” says Loet Rammelsberg, Program Director of StartLife.

Rammelsberg: “We have joined the Robin Food project to tackle the rising amount of food surpluses and open up new sales channels for food(tech) startups that were heavily hit by the corona-crisis. We support the startups with the development of new food products in collaboration with large retailers and numerous field experts in our agrifood network.’

Carla van Heck, Food Startup Scout of StartLife adds: “Aside from the chance to develop new food products the supported startups are also offered a unique opportunity to quickly scale their production from hundreds to thousands of consumers with certified products that abide to all food retail regulations. It is a great opportunity for food startups to build new business, recover vital revenues and contribute to reducing food waste at the same time.”

‘StartLife has a lot of experience with supporting startups to bring their disruptive and sustainable ideas to the market. So we are really happy to have them on board in the project”, says Drees Peter van den Bosch, responsible for Innovation at the Verspillingsfabriek, and also partner in the Robin Food project.

The Robin Food project is supported by funding from EIT Food, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology in Food.



Highlights of StartLife Jubilee Graduation Day

On 9 December we welcomed hundreds of members of our global F&A community to our Jubilee Graduation Day. We celebrated the graduation of nine startups of the StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 cohort as well as 10-years of StartLife.  In case you missed it, or want to relive the moment, we are happy to share the Graduation Day highlights with you.

Jubilee Graduation Day Aftermovie

“Great event your team had today, it was one of the more entertaining webinars I’ve been on this year and I’ve been on a few too many. You have an awesome batch of cohort companies as well.”
Francesco Lorenzetti, Green Circle Capital

“What a great event and line up of startups. This was the best online event I participated in since Corona hit us.”
An Michiels, AgKnowledge Partnering, Former Head EAME Seed Development Syngenta and Global Head of Research Bayer.

Relive the full event

If you want to see the complete online event, which takes about 1,5 hours, then check the video below.


During the online event we showed various videos. You can view them in the full event recording above, or view them directly via the following links.

Video’s Celebrating 10-years of StartLife

Video’s about StartLife

You can also download the program booklet (pdf) with background information and contact details of the graduated startups. And download the presentation slides (pdf) of the webinar.

See you again!

We look forward to welcoming you again another time, hopefully in person!

About StartLife Accelerate Program

If you like to learn more about the 12-week acceleration program of start please visit our StartLife Accelerate webpage.


Anterra Capital Strengthens Ties with StartLife As Investor Partner

StartLife and Anterra Capital Investor Partnership

Anterra Capital, one of largest dedicated agrifoodtech venture capital firms in the world and a pioneer in the sector, has entered into an investor partnership with StartLife. Together we will back entrepreneurs who are building a healthier and sustainable food system. The partnership is an expansion of years of fruitful collaboration.

The announcement is made just one day after StartLife was founded exactly 10 years ago. “We did not plan it this way, but it is a great gift to pay forward to our startups!”, comments Lin Zhu, investor relations manager of StartLife.

Better access to growth capital

StartLife and Anterra Capital already work together since 2016 when they co-founded F&A Next, a global platform for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups, investors and corporates. When StartLife recently decided to expand its investor partnerships; it only made sense for the two organizations to elevate their collaboration.

Lin: “In order for tech startups to excel and make a true impact, they need (better) access to smart capital. We have come to know Anterra Capital as a highly reputable and seasoned agrifood VC fund, with deep sector knowledge and a global reach. They are a trusted partner to help grow promising startups and to build a healthier food system for the world.”

The power of joined forces

Adam Anders, managing partner of Anterra Capital, calls the expansion of their partnership with StartLife a natural evolution of Anterra’s strong relationship with Wageningen University and StartLife over the years. “The whole idea behind F&A Next is to build connections and collaborations that boost technological innovation and make the agrifood industry more efficient, sustainable and healthier,” Adam explains.

“We are thrilled to see StartLife increase its commitment to innovation with the appointment of Lin Zhu as investor relations manager. The agrifood tech sector is continuing to grow and mature, demonstrated by the steadily improving volume and quality of startups partnering with StartLife. We look forward to working together to help these companies succeed and transform our food system.”

About Anterra Capital

Anterra Capital backs the entrepreneurs who are transforming our food economy. They are a specialist venture capital fund combining deep market knowledge and sector expertise with a passion for building groundbreaking technology companies. Anterra is active from company incubation to growth stage, looking to catalyze transformation with a world class network. Operating out of Amsterdam and Boston with a global outlook, they work closely with their portfolio companies and share their commitment to building a healthier food system.


Attend StartLife’s 10 Year Anniversary Event on December 9th!


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Join StartLife’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

On 9 December we will celebrate StartLife’s 10 year anniversary in combination with the graduation of the fifth group of startups of our renowned acceleration program. We cordially invite our entire F&A community to join our virtual Jubilee Graduation Day.


The year 2020 is very special to StartLife. We have much to celebrate! Last spring, we organized our 5th edition of F&A Next. And currently we are also running our 5th acceleration program. Earlier this week we moved into a brand new business center and incubator, Plus Ultra II: a building that hosts startups, scale-ups and support organizations. And, to top if all off, on 8 November it will be 10 years to day that StartLife was founded!

What started as a Center for Entrepreneurship that promoted and fostered entrepreneurship among the students of Wageningen University has grown into an international agrifoodtech accelerator, supporting hundreds of startups in growing their businesses and making a change. Hip Hip Hooray!

Jubilee graduation day

For our anniversary we are organizing a ‘jubilee graduation day’, as we have decided to combine our 10 year anniversary celebration with the completion of our 5th StartLife Accelerate program. “We would, of course, have loved to celebrate our anniversary with a large gathering in our new incubator building”, says managing director Jan Meiling, “but because of Covid-19 we have little choice but to celebrate it virtually. ” No worries though. We are organizing a true virtual fest for you!

Anniversary program

We welcome you to celebrate 10 years of agrifoodtech innovation with us. Please register for our virtual jubilee graduation day, which is on Wednesday 9 December.

The program starts at 15.00h (CET), and will, of course, include short pitches by the nine startups of StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 and a virtual network opportunity with all participants from 16.30h to 17.30h. We also welcome some special guests, like Constantijn van Oranje, Special Envoy at

Furthermore we look forward to having our brand new logo unveiled by a very special guest and share our plans for the next 10 years with you! And who knows, we may even have a nice surprise for you?!

REGISTER FOR STARTLIFE’s Jubilee graduation day

StartLife Alumni Updates – October 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

Major Breakthrough For Malaria-fighter In2care

A malaria-free world? The chances of pulling off this immense mission have taken a great leap forward. The Wageningen-based company InCare Trading company has developed and tested a solution that reduces the chances of malaria infections with an unprecedented result of more than 40% on top of new bednets! With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation In2Care ran a 5 year long trial project in the Ivory Coast.

“The UN World Health Organization (WHO) is full of praise for our solution”, says Marius de Waard, CEO of In2care, proudly. “To obtain a much desired formal prequalification by the WHO we now need to conduct a second study that supports our first findings. For this repeat study we need $3 million, for which we hope to find funding soon.”

The 3D animation above shows how In2Care EaveTubes lure, block and kill resistant malaria mosquitoes and prevent disease transmission.

Read more about the Ivory Coast Trial by In2Care

CE-Line Wins GreenTech Innovation Concept Award 2020

On 20 October, during the opening of GreenTech Live & Online, the top quality international exhibition for horticulture technologies, CE-Line was named the winner in the Concept category of the GreenTech Innovation Awards. CE-Line develops measuring systems for the water quality of greenhouse horticulture. The innovation award is for the CELINE technology, which adjusts the nutrient solution as desired or to the plant needs.

The jury sees the technology as “a good idea that has not yet been resolved and is a big step forward in very accurate fertilization.”

Corvus Drones Obtains €150k From Rabobank Innovation Fund

Corvus Drones

Corvus Drones is specialized in smart crop monitoring and scouting by a fully automated drone. By partnering with Artificial Intelligence companies’ the company provides solutions for seed germination, crop development, plant stress and disease & pest detection. The loan, which is an initiative of the Innovation Fund Rabobank, provides Dutch early-stage entrepreneurs with a good innovative idea that contributes to the digitization, sustainability and/or vitalization of society, and the opportunity to further develop their plans.

Sigrow Wins Dutch Innovation Prize 2020

Last week Sigrow has won the Topsector T&U* Innovation Prize 2020 (*Dutch Horticulture and Starting Materials Top Sector). Jury chairman Harrij Schmeitz: “Sigrow’s solution measures the status of the plant using a thermal camera. This innovation is the missing link for the Unmanned Growing Concept. This makes it possible to directly control the climate etc. based on “plant value” instead of just “grower input”. Team Sigrow has the potential to make this development a success and to grow into the Fitbit of Horticulture. ” Sigrow wins, among others , a knowledge voucher worth €25,000.

Sponsh Elected As Europe’s Best Social Entrepreneurs 2020

Sponsh won the first prize of the Social Innovation Tournament’s (SIT) ninth edition in the Special Category,  which is dedicated to projects that focus on environment and have a strong focus on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. In addition to the title ‘Europe’s Best Social Entrepreneurs 2020’, the company won €50k prize money.

Sponsh, developed a temperature-sensitive smart material that produces water from air, using the natural cycles of day and night. Launched in 2018, their first products are water-producing tree guards for reforestation projects, to help young trees survive their first harsh summers. After 10 years, Sponsh will have planted 80 million trees, turned 174 000 ha of degraded land into forests and absorbed 68 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Vegger Recognized As Exemplarily Green Deal Sustainable Health Care Initiative

Vertical Farming meets Health Care! Wageningen-based Vegger, a StartHub Wageningen resident, is officially recognized by the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment as an example of Green Deal Sustainable Health Care.

Vegger makes healthcare facilities ‘green’ by means of high-tech indoor vegetable gardens with edible plants. For more than eighteen months, Vegger has been supplying the healthcare facilities of the Innoforte Foundation with fresh vegetables and herbs. Vegger’s mission, in addition to promoting healthy and local food, is to create a healing environment to promote the well-being of residents in a positive way.

Learn more about Vegger on the RIVM website (in Dutch)

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Shift Invest and StartLife Prolong Impact-driven Investment Partnership

Partnership Shift Invest & StartLife

Tech startups which help make the agrifood value chain more sustainable can rely another three years on the strategic partnership between StartLife and SHIFT Invest, the largest seed and early-stage impact investor for agrifood, biobased and circular sectors in the Netherlands. StartLife helps ambitious agrifoodtech startups to swiftly validate their business and become investor ready. SHIFT Invest provides the most promising ones with funding for their growth and the realization of their environmental impact potential.

SHIFT Invest has invested, among others, in StartLife alumni Chaincraft, Nutrileads and Fumi Ingredients. Both parties are keen to take the partnership to the next level. With an growing sense of urgency to shift to a different and circular economy, SHIFT Invest has recently launched its 3rd fund at a total €70 million. The larger fund allows SHIFT Invest to help impact-driven startups also overcome one of their biggest challenges, scaling their business.

Investing in Zebra’s and Camels: Impactful, Profitable and Resilient

Both StartLife and SHIFT Invest are keen on backing startups that combine societal impact with profitability at reasonable speed, known as Zebra’s. Covid-19 has also demonstrated the importance of startups being resilient to big, unexpected changes. Extraordinary resilient startups are sometimes referred to as Camels, as they know how to cope with the most unexpected and variable changes.

“These combined terms seem to some it up nicely”, says Florentine Fockema, partner at SHIFT Invest. “We are interested in impact-driven entrepreneurs who are extremely ambitious and know how and when to pivot if needed. They must be flexible and be able to keep course.”

Shared mission and values

The two partnering organizations also recognize the importance of shared missions and values. Florentine: “We see that when people truly share the mission and values of their organization they are willing to make an extra effort, and as such be able to overcome a hard hit.”

Sharing a mission and values is equally important for a successful partnership. Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife: “We have extremely good ties with SHIFT Invest. They are really nice and competent people to work with and we indeed have strong common ground – we both believe start startups are in the lead to push us to a more sustainable food industry and world altogether. We look forward to jointly help make a difference.”


p.s. You can  also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Citrosuco And StartLife On Joint Quest To Make Juice Industry Fully Sustainable

Image Partnership Citrosuco-StartLife Today, the Brazilian juice giant Citrosuco announces a strategic partnership with StartLife. The company has teamed up with the StartLife to gain better access to European startups, in particular those with new technologies that can help the juice value chain become 100% sustainable. Citrosuco offers startups funding and technical and operational expertise.

As one of the world’s largest producers of orange juice and orange-based ingredients, Citrosuco is committed to drive the transformation to a 100% sustainable juice value chain by 2030. Citrosuco believes that the innovative power and focus of startups will help them reach breakthroughs much faster. “Startups have creative ideas and are often forerunners in new technologies. We have operational and product expertise, (testing) facilities and both the opportunity and knowledge to scale up new technologies. It just makes sense to combine our forces”, says Alex Marie Schuermans, Product Development and Applications General Manager of Citrosuco.

Searching for foodtech and agtech startups

Searching for the right startups is labor intensive, requires specific skills and a wide network in the European startup community, for which Citrosuco also utilizes the power of collaboration. Alex: “We have come to know StartLife as one of Europe’s leading agrifoodtech accelerators with a solid support program and a rapidly expanding network in Europe. They also have a proven track record in matching startups with corporates. As such, we believe StartLife is in an excellent position to help us achieve our goals.”


Caroline Bijkerk, Global Partnership Manager of StartLife, is also very pleased with this new partnership. “Two of every ten glasses of orange juice consumed around the globe are produced by Citrosuco. Imagine the impact when they apply new technologies which reduce waste, energy and water consumption or contribute to even healthier nutrition, to just name a few examples. Citrosuco offers a wide array of opportunities for both foodtech and agtech startups to contribute to a sustainable food supply chain as well as to grow their own business at the same time. Clearly we look forward to help making this happen.”

About Citrosuco

As a private company, Citrosuco is a global supplier of orange juice and orange-based ingredients with operations in the entire orange juice value chain—from citrus groves through processing to distribution in more than 100 countries. The company is in charge of growth, production and delivery of orange juice and orange-based ingredients. With 20% of the global market share and accounting for 40% of all orange juice produced and exported by Brazil, Citrosuco is one of the largest orange juice producers in the world.


p.s. You can  also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Viroteq Attracts Funding To Build Smart Stacking and Packaging Robot Software


Efficiently stack packages and objects of different sizes? With the intelligent on-the-fly mixed palletizer software that can make robots deal with flexible situations in a smarter way, this becomes a breeze. Viroteq makes grateful and efficient use of the latest machine vision and deep-learning techniques. Thanks to a fund managed by Horizon Flevoland, the company can now develop a prototype.

“Many stacking and packaging processes within the logistics industry are still performed by people, while this is physically very demanding and monotonous work. By using robots with our software in a smarter and more flexible way, we can automate these processes while at the same time improving the efficiency of the stack, “explains Evert van Galen, co-founder and CEO of Viroteq.

StartLife and Horizon Flevoland

“We are delighted to be able to fund this promising initiative and provide the company with the money for a working prototype. The target? Conquer the market, “said Inge Verschuur, investment manager at regional development company Horizon Flevoland.  The fund is committed to enabling entrepreneurs to grow and at the same time to realize social challenges.

Horizon Flevoland is not the only investor. StartLife also believes in the company. Within the StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 program , Viroteq developed a “proof of principle”; an experiment aimed at determining whether the invented technology actually works and is feasible. In this program Food & Agritech startups learn what is crucial in validating their business, how to attract financiers and grow their business. In addition, the program provides seed capital, business support and access to leading companies and investors.

Efficient packing

Viroteq wants to sell their software as a licensing model, but also focuses (in collaboration with partners) on the sale of total systems. In the future, the company will not only focus on stacking crates and packages, but also on efficient packaging of the food products in these crates and packages.

Flevoland has a strong logistics sector. For example, the logistics hotspot Almere-Lelystad-Zeewolde finished third this year on the list of top logistics locations in the Netherlands. ‘The logistics sector in Flevoland offers us many opportunities and growth opportunities’, says Evert van Galen of Viroteq.

TMI Proof of Concept Fund Flevoland

Viroteq receives funding from the TMI Proof of Concept Fund Flevoland (POC Fund). This fund is managed by Horizon Flevoland and provides financing to innovative SMEs with growth ambitions that wish to invest in the development of new products or services and are in the so-called proof-of-concept phase. € 13.3 million has been made available for this by a program from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union, the province of Flevoland and the national government.


p.s. You can  also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Verdify Raises €750k To Create First AI-powered Platform For Personalized Nutrition

Screenshot website Verdify 13-10-2020

The Dutch Foodtech company Verdify, a StartLife alumni, has raised a seed investment of €750.000. Two private investors and AI-investment company Genzai enable the development of the world’s first AI-powered platform for fully personalized and guideline-based nutrition.

Verdify will use the funding to create the first international recipe platform with fully adaptive recipes. The company develops innovative software for assisting consumers online in healthy decision making. Verdify will enable consumers to set up their nutrition passport with detailed information about personal nutrition and health needs, fully adjustable to food and taste preferences. A wealth of matching recipe inspiration is generated on the basis of the nutrition passport, both on the Verdify platform and on the recipe websites of partnering companies.

Improving quality of life

Verdify operates from the vision that nutrition can play a fundamental role in the maintenance of health and the treatment of chronic conditions. Increased attention for nutritional intake in healthcare and -prevention settings can have a profound impact on the quality of life of many people and contribute to lowering medical expenditures. “Our aim is to provide a trusted digital environment for making food choices that are supportive of personal health. We are excited to welcome the new investors and together take key steps towards making a durable impact on health and social wellbeing” said the CEO of Verdify, Jochem Bossenbroek.


Together with AI-investment company Genzai, Verdify develops the software to power the personalized nutrition platform. Roy Lenders, CEO of Genzai: “Food is the biggest market in the world and personalized nutrition is one of the key themes in this market. We are excited to build artificial intelligent models with Verdify that can really enable personalized nutrition for consumers around the globe.” Theo Cuppen, Director of Joles B.V. and one of the private investors said: “Verdify is fully aligned with our motivation to invest in creative startups in the food industry that develop socially responsible concepts on the route from production to consumption.”

Platform integration

The recipe platform will be connected to the order & delivery systems of food retailers and meal delivery platforms to present a new level of convenience in planning and ordering personalized healthy meals. The company’s focus reaches beyond convenience in healthy eating: Verdify operates fully in harmony with national nutrition guidelines that are applied in the medical domain and dietary practice.

Verdify will also construct a software interface that can be used by companies in the food sector for personalizing their recipe content on their websites. This allows the companies to tailor meal inspiration content to the exact needs and preferences of consumers. Besides that, Verdify will offer the possibility to automatically create nutritious recipes around specific (novel) food products through application of its AI Chef.


p.s. Follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

CES Unveiled Conference: Tech Solutions for Global Challenges

2020 CES Unveiled Conference

How do we provide technology solutions to global challenges? Think along and participate in the online event CES Unveiled Conference: ‘Tech Solutions for Global Challenges’ on 15 October.

Power of innovation

The conference is about ‘The Power of Technology to Address Global Challenges’. Leading companies and investors, technology influencers and European ministers will speak about how the world can innovate itself out of the crisis. In the afternoon there will be a preview of the latest technological trends that will be presented at CES 2021.

European leaders on ‘the power of technology to address global challenges’
This conference offers new insights for entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, policy makers and experts. These are insights into tech trends, disruptive leadership, scale-up investment, and innovating the world from the crisis.

Speakers include:

  • Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market
  • Corinne Vigreux, CMO and co-founder TomTom, and founder Codam Coding College
  • André Hoffman, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Roche Holding
  • Roger Havenith, Deputy CEO European Investment Fund (EIF)

Dutch state secretary Mona Keijzer will discuss the outcome of the informal Telecom Council on 15 October at the end of the conference.

CES Amsterdam and Paris combined

Due to the current circumstances, CES Unveiled Amsterdam and CES Unveiled Paris have been combined and will take place completely online. You will find investors, business leaders, experts, policymakers, ministers, opinion leaders from home and abroad, all online.

For whom?

This conference provides insights into tech trends, disruptive leadership, scale-up investment and crisis innovation for entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, policymakers and experts.

Participation and registration

Register now to attend the digital CES Unveiled Conference. Participation is free.

Organization CES Unveiled Conference

The CES Unveiled Conference is organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and CTA, the American industry association of tech companies. In addition, a long list of public-private organizations and companies are involved as partners in the organization, including StartLife,, Oost NL and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).


p.s. Follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


Russian Grain Improvers Spinning Out To Wageningen

With support of StartLife and Oost NL the Russian company Grain Improvers has settled in Wageningen. The founders of Grain Improvers have many years of experience in the Russian flour and baking market and have developed patented natural enzymes based grain improvers, which application is particularly relevant for flour, starch and gluten producers. Grain Improvers BV is a formal spin out that addresses an entirely new product-market combination.

In particular in countries where mills use substantial quantities of foreign wheat for grinding and less of local origin due to its lower baking properties, the use of grain improvers will increase the share of local wheat in the grinding phase while maintaining high quality baking flour. “The solution Grain Improvers offers also reduces the amount of energy need to grind flour, which contributes to a more sustainable food supply system”, explains Jouke Kardolus, startup coach at StartLife and Senior Projectmanager Agro-Food at Oost NL.

Fact-finding mission lead to settlement

Grain Improvers BV will be based in Wageningen, creating ten jobs in the long term. In Wageningen, the company becomes part of an ecosystem of innovative international food companies.

Oost NL supports the company in its further business development through StartLife. To help the company with its choice of location, Oost NL organized a fact-finding trip to get to know the region and helped Grain Improvers with some administrative tasks.

About Grain Improvers


p.s. Follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Bioventure Sundew Raises €1.4M In Seed Financing

White Spot Disease - Ich_by James_Pickett
Photo by James Pickett

Sundew, an innovative bioventure targeting aquatic pests and diseases, has received €1.34 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s BioInnovation Institute, bringing its total funding raised to date to €1.4M. This funding will allow Sundew to bring its first product, for the treatment of the fish disease ‘Ich’, to market.

Aquatic pests and diseases are a major and growing global problem. Humanity becomes more and more reliant on the oceans for food and natural resources. We have an ever-increasing impact on aquatic ecosystems, ranging from the open seas to groundwater. More than ever preventing, treating and managing water transmitted pests, parasites, diseases and invasive species is vital.

Huge unmet need for aquaculture

In particular there is an urgent need for effective, affordable and environmentally-benign products that can replace the often toxic and non-degradable chemicals that are currently used, as co-founder Andy Gardiner also explains in his founder story: huge unmet need for aquaculture. Chemicals that often cause as many problems as they solve. Sundew, a Danish-Dutch startup biological technology, is developing a range of biological technology platforms to enable the creation, optimization and delivery of cost-effective, robust products with a small environmental footprint.

Sundew’s most advanced technology was initially developed under the EU Horizon 2020 ParaFishControl project by scientists at the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in Wageningen and the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Sundew has a world-wide, exclusive license to the technology and to sell products based on it.

Well ‘spotted’ business

Sundew’s first product addresses outbreaks of lchthyophthirius multifiliis, also known as just ‘Ich’ or fish white spot disease. Ich is a parasite that affects freshwater fish, including seven of the eleven most important finfish aquaculture species, such as carp, tilapia and catfish. (Freshwater fish account for nearly 90% of all farmed fish (by volume) and more than 40% of all aquaculture.) It also affects many well-known ‘ornamental’ species that are found in major display and research aquariums or in ornamental ponds or are kept as pets.

Earlier this year Sundew was awarded €0.8M from the Danish government’s green fund, GUDP, to develop this same product for use by trout farmers, where ‘Ich’ is a major seasonal problem.  The company also obtained €85.000 through the StartLife Accelerate program. The funding announced today will allow Sundew to bring this product to market for the ornamental sector.

Building a company of lasting value

Neil Goldsmith, chairman of Sundew, welcomed the investment saying, ‘this funding will enable Sundew to develop our lead product all the way to market. It is an excellent opportunity to work with two organizations, each outstanding in its area, to build a company of lasting value’.

Christian Brix Tillegreen, Senior Business Developer at BioInnovation Institute, who will be working with the company, said: ‘Sundew uses biology to tackle pests and diseases that live in water and addresses a huge unmet need in the fast-growing agriculture market as well as human health and ecological problems. Sundew’s products could help the transformation towards more sustainable industries. I am excited to work with the experienced start-up team of founders and experts and look forward to supporting their development towards the market’.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife, said, ‘It’s really pleasing to see one of our 2019 graduate companies making such excellent progress, especially given the technology link to Wageningen. We always felt that Sundew’s approach was compelling. All of us here at StartLife are very glad to have played a part in supporting their early development.’


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


StartLife Selects 9 European Startups That Help Reshape The Food Industry

StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 Banner

We have selected nine European startups for our Fall 2020 cohort. The startups are introducing new technologies that tackle global challenges such as diminishing food waste, boosting sustainable production and enhancing productivity. In the coming months the startups will be diving deep into their businesses. Their ‘graduation’ is due on 9 December.

According to McKinsey, agriculture is among the least digitized of all major industries. With technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, encapsulation, RFID and spectrometers our new batch of startups is keen to modernize and reshape the food industry. The following companies make up our fifth cohort:

  • Blakbear (UK) – Package-level freshness visibility boosting product shelf-life
  • Healthycrop (Denmark) – Solutions that enable fungicide free agriculture
  • Iamus (Ireland) – Revolutionize the poultry industry with robotics and AI
  • KomraVision (Estonia) – Material analysis with next generation dynamic optics
  • Mylium (Netherlands) – Developing fungi-based textiles
  • Plantik (France) – Engineering the plants of tomorrow, unthinkably faster
  • Sphera Encapsulation (Italy) – Sustainable encapsulation technologies
  • TuttiFoodi (Netherlands) – 100% natural food preservation technology
  • Vertigo (Netherlands) – Quality control for fresh fruit with microwave measurements

Deep dives

Even with almost 10 years of experience as an accelerator, deciding which startups StartLife accepts to its support program isn’t easy. Program director Loet Rammelsberg: “The road from a minimal viable product to a successful startup is a big jigsaw puzzle. We have to assess at an early stage if we can help find and connect the right pieces together. Obviously we hope the newly selected startups will follow into the footsteps of successful StartLife alumni like Nutrileads, Hudson River Biotechnology and Cerescon and high potentials like Orbisk and FUMI Ingredients.”

In the coming months the startups will be diving deep into their businesses. They will validate their customers segments, refine their propositions and prepare for attracting growth capital and partnerships that will spur their business development. On 9 December the startups will finalize the acceleration program with a presentation to an international audience of investors, corporates and other stakeholders from the agrifood industry.

‘Zooming’ into Europe

In response to the coronavirus pandemic we went fully remote with our flagship Accelerate program in the spring edition of this year. This time the program is fully virtual from the outset. Loet: “We had already planned to open our program to more international startups. With the program changes we had to make earlier this year we realized that a virtual program would enable entrepreneurs who are not based in the Netherlands to reap the benefits of our wide support more easily. In a way you could say we are ‘zooming’ our way into Europe.”

Whilst the startups indeed appreciate the remote program, they are given the option to attend the program virtually or in person, as the program is now offered in hybrid. “Only for the demo day, which we refer to as graduation day, we prefer to have all startups physically present”, adds Flora Vogelzang, program coordinator of StartLife.

10 years anniversary ahead

With the fifth cohort we will also celebrate our 10th anniversary on 5 November. The anniversary coincides with the opening of our brand new office building on Wageningen Campus. The new building is shared with various organizations involved in boosting entrepreneurship and innovation, and, not least important, with numerous agrifood startups and scale-ups. Jan Meiling, our managing director, announces that more exciting news is yet to come in the coming months.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


StartLife Alumni Updates – September 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

Orbisk launches international consortium co-funded by €1.2M Eurostars grant

Orbisk launches international Eurostars consortium

On a global scale, a mind-boggling amount of 1.3 billion tons (1.300.000.000.000 kgs) of food goes to waste, every single year. Food waste fighter Orbisk has just secured a EUR 1.2 million Eurostars grant to help make a difference. As of September 1st, Orbisk, Aivero and Eaternity Institut form an international consortium aptly titled ‘FOOD FIGHT’. The partners will explore cutting edge camera and streaming technologies. Furthermore, the consortium will focus on the prospecting capabilities based on the generated data, to better understand and advise clients to reduce their food waste and environmental impact.

Read the full announcement.

FrieslandCampina Director becomes Managing Director at PEF Technologies

Yulia Mitko - Meeuwes Buiten - PEF Technologies

After two years of effective cooperation on a consultancy basis, the team of PEF Technologies have appointed Meeuwes Buiten as Managing Director. Meeuwes has 35+ years of experience within the dairy industry. He took various managing positions at Royal FrieslandCampina, amongst which Supply Chain Director. “His knowledge of product development and his broad and global network within dairy sector makes his input indispensable for the company. I believe that under his lead we have all chances to bringing the product to the market in the nearest future,” comments Valeriy Mitko, Technical Director and co-owner of PEF Technologies.

Go to the full press release. delivers proof-of-concept for Weed Whacker robot

OddBot Proof of Concept

This summer demonstrated their Proof-of-Concept in the presence of their current financers: the Horizon Flevoland Proof of Concept Fund, a robotics expert hired by them and a delegation from Wageningen University & Research. Odd.bots has demonstrated in the field, at a grower of organic carrots, that they have a working robot that can not only recognize the weeds well and distinguish them from the crop, but can also remove the weeds independently. The next goal they have set for themselves is to demonstrate by mid-October that the robot will do its work for four consecutive hours: recognize at least 70 percent of the weeds present and remove at least 70 percent of them. So on balance already half of all the weeds present!

EIT Food awards over €200.000 to high-impact agrifood startup Epinutra

EIT Food Corona Bridge Fund

EIT Food invests €5.4 million in 13 high-impact agrifood startups. Among them is StartLife alumni Epinutra. They receive €212.500. The investment is made from The COVID-19 Bridge Fund which supports European agrifood startups that have been affected by coronavirus. The funds help the companies adapt to COVID-19, to continue critical innovation to transform our food systems and to bridge the gap towards their next investment round. The selected startups cover a range of sectors with vast potential to create positive change, addressing one of EIT Food’s focus areas. The investments concerns convertible loans, so EIT Food made sure to select high-potential startups.

Celine obtains 150,000 euro from Rabobank Innovation Fund

Celine - horticulture water management

Celine, provider of automated water and nutrient management in greenhouse horticulture, obtained a Rabo Innovation loan of €150,000. The loan, which is an initiative of the Innovation Fund Rabobank, provides Dutch early-stage entrepreneurs with a good innovative idea that contributes to the digitization, sustainability and/or vitalization of society the opportunity to further develop their plans.

GreenCovery and Mylium win first AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant

Winners AtlastInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2020

Side-stream specialist Greencovery and sustainable textile producer Mylium are the winners of the first AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant. The grant, provided by the investment holding company of Marcel van Poecke (a successful WUR alumnus), supports student-entrepreneurs from Wageningen University who have impactful ideas. Two grants have been awarded. The startup award (€15.000), won by Greencovery, is granted to student entrepreneurs who focus on commercially promising solutions to global food and sustainability challenges. The Impact Award (€15.000), won by Mylium, rewards social initiatives of student entrepreneurs that focus on maximum impact on the environment and sustainability.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Interview: Why Every Startup Needs A Mentor

Interview startup mentorship Ernst Visser - Nikolas Fahlskog
On photo: Ernst Visser and Nikolas Fahlskog

The success of a startup depends on a mixture of skills, hard work, perseverance, a bit of luck and the right support. At StartLife we believe that startup mentors are truly an invaluable resource to help getting your dreams off the ground. We even dare to say that every startup needs a mentor. But why? What makes a startup mentor so invaluable? Who better to ask then a mentor and his mentee? We asked Ernst Visser (StartLife alumnus) and Nikolas Fahlskog (StartLife mentor) to share their thoughts and experience.

Let’s start off with a short introduction round.

Ernst Visser has a solid financial background as group controller, CFO and financial & strategic advisor. In 2018 he, and his co-founder Ewoud Overduin, started an action-oriented consultancy firm that helps existing entrepreneurs to scale-up their business. Now they are both working on their own technology-based startup that turns used jeans into clean cotton fibres. Ernst and Ewoud participated in StartLife’s acceleration program earlier this year. Through StartLife they got into contact with Nikolas Fahlskog, who became their startup mentor.

Nikolas Fahlskog has over 15 years of experience in breakthrough innovation and commercialization. For well over a decade he worked at Philips, where he fulfilled roles such as Senior Manager Consumer Marketing and Director Digital Innovation & Transformation. He was, amongst others, responsible for creating the digital innovation vision and strategy for Philips Healthy Food Services and Appliances. If you love shaving with Philips OneBlade, you may thank Nikolas. His passion for innovation and love for chaos eventually lead him to start his own innovation consultancy firm in, guess what…. 2018.

So first things first. Let’s address the big elephant in the room. Ernst, you have quite some track-record as an advisor and even help scale-ups grow. Why would you need startup mentoring?

Ernst: Fair question, but easily answered. Firstly, scaling up an existing company and starting a new company are two very different stages of a business, with entirely different challenges. Secondly, it does not matter how experienced you are, it is always valuable to have an external sparring partner. Even the best of leaders and entrepreneurs in the world have a mentor. So why not me?

Nikolas: well said. I could not agree more.

Okay. How would you both describe the role and added value of a startup mentor?

Nikolas: As Ernst just said, a mentor acts as a sparring partner who helps entrepreneurs find the right path. More specifically, the right path for them and their business. My role as a mentor is not to provide answers or solutions. I am to ask the questions that enables the entrepreneur figuring out the right course of action for his specific situation.

Ernst: Indeed. I don’t view a mentor as a free consultant that provides me tailor made answers and solutions. To me mentoring is all about providing guidance, structure and also emotional support. Afterall the road of a startup can be true roller coaster. When talking to your mentor you are ‘forced’ to put your thoughts into words, which by itself is already useful. But now you also have an independent and experienced person responding to it, which is even more helpful. Another great value of mentors is that they tend to have a large network that they might put into good use for you.

Only an experienced entrepreneur can be a great startup mentor. True or false?

Nikolas: I started mentoring startup right after some significant tenure at a large firm. So I am inclined to say that is not necessarily true, haha. At Philips I took various break-through products/technologies from idea to market. So I know what obstacles you will run into, what to do and certainly also what not to do! Having that kind of experience as a mentor is essential in my opinion.

Ernst: I fully agree with Nikolas, although we did ask ourselves this very same question when looking for a mentor. In the end we concluded it to be a bonus rather than a requirement. We do feel it is important that a mentor has gone through a similar experience, because theory and practice are often very different.

You say mentorship is about asking questions that help find answers. Can you give an example of a ‘typical’ mentor question?

Nikolas: Sure. I was mentoring another startup that had about six months left before they would run out of funds. They informed me how they wanted to spend their last money. I asked them: “Do you think your investor will appreciate hearing that you spent it on that when you ask him for more money? “If you put it that way, probably not.”, was their response. “So what would be better a way of investing your remaining money?”, I then asked. “Finding (more) customers!” Bingo!

Ernst: We saw the rise of a competitor in our field. Though as normal as this is, it made us feel a bit uncomfortable nonetheless. Nikolas asked us it the market is big enough to have more than one player. It is. Just with that one simple question he helped us restore our piece of mind and fully focus again on our own business development.

Should a mentorship always be a long-term relationship or would a few meetings suffice as well?

Nikolas: it all depends on the need of the entrepreneur. Sometimes a few meetings provide sufficient support to help an entrepreneur on his way. Others require, or value, more and longer support.

Ernst: Even a single meeting can be very insightful and helpful. But the longer the relationship lasts, the better you get to know each other. The mentor learns how you do business. You need less words to explain yourself. You open up even more, which allows the mentor to provide even better guidance.

What advice would you give to startup entrepreneurs to get the most value out of their mentor?

1) Don’t start a mentorship if you cannot take criticism. You must be receptive for the feedback you receive otherwise the mentorship will take you nowhere. Always remember that your mentor has no interest in pulling you down. All feedback is intended to help you move forward, both for your business as your personal development as an entrepreneur.

2) Don’t keep your early ideas under the radar until you think you are ready. If you wait until you are ‘ready’, you are in fact most likely too late already or at least have lost valuable time. Share your ideas and thoughts with others, including a mentor, as soon as possible and collect valuable input and feedback. It will definitely help you speed up your business development process.


1) Don’t wait calling your mentor until problems occur but schedule meetings on a recurrent basis, like one hour every other week or once a month. Just share what you are working on. You will soon notice that a mentor may discover potential pitfalls or opportunities that you are not even aware of yet.

2) A good mentor has an extensive network. Make sure to leverage that! If you need specific knowledge or skills, just ask your mentor if he knows someone with that particular knowledge or skill.

We hope the experience and thoughts of Ernst and Nikolas are of value to you. If you are an agrifood startup and interested in a mentorship, make sure to check our startup mentorship program and reach out to us if you feel our mentors could be of value to you.


StartLife Takes Startup Branding To Next Level With HLO Branding Agency


StartLife is excited to announce a new partnership with HLO Branding Agency aimed at helping young agrifood brands to grow and stand out from the crowd.

Startups have loads of great ideas for innovative products and services, but it can sometimes be challenging to market those brilliant ideas in a clear and attractive way that helps the brand to separate itself from its competitors. But with the right support it doesn’t have to be hard. That’s why HLO Branding Agency and StartLife have joined forces to help entrepreneurs!

No story, no startup

As an innovator in the agrifood industry you put all of your energy into the development of your product or service. What you’re doing is so groundbreaking that you’re going to change the world and corner the market! But translating a brilliant idea into a market-ready product is not as simple as it seems. You need a memorable presentation, clear information and most of all; an appealing story. This enables you to convince people of your mission and unique offering, initially to find partners and secure funding, but of course eventually to conquer the world too!

Clearing obstacles

Bram van Beek, marketing manager of StartLife: “We regularly see startup entrepreneurs struggle to make the leap when it comes to branding their business. Considering most of our startup entrepreneurs have an academic or tech background, this makes perfect sense. Their skill sets are generally suited more to developing their product portfolio and less to marketing it. To clear this obstacle from our entrepreneurs’ paths we decided to look for an expert partner. HLO Branding Agency has over twenty years of experience in branding and re-branding in the agrifood space, with a particular focus on branding for startups, so it made perfect sense for us to join forces.”

Turning customers into fans

Isabella van Reeuwijk, Brand strategy director HLO Branding Agency: “We have worked with StartLife in the past and are inspired by the passion and expertise with which they support innovative startups in the early growth phase of their business. This is very much in line with our own vision: we help brands grow by presenting them to the market in a credible, dura-ble and attractive way. Always with a smart brand strategy as a starting point.

We are a people centred agency. We love innovative entrepreneurs who put their heart and soul into their business. We help them translating their passion and conviction into an au-thentic brand personality which turns customers into fans. We’re very excited by this new partnership with StartLife and their roster of startups, and look forward to achieving great results together.”


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


Normec Foodcare Joins StartLife for Aiding FoodTech Startups

On photo: Loet Rammelsberg, Roger Nass, Jan Meiling in front of new upcoming StartLife office 

StartLife and Normec Foodcare have joined forces to help innovative food(tech) startups get their impactful food products and technologies faster to market. By making highly specialized food compliance knowledge and services more and more easily accessible to food startups, they want to help them overcome the daunting task of figuring out all requirements they must abide to and obtain the certifications they need.

It needs no explanation to understand that food safety and quality requires in-depth knowledge of a rather complex set of international food laws and regulations. “If it is already a challenging execution for large and experienced food concerns, imagine how tough it is for inexperienced, small food startups.”, says Loet Rammelsberg, program director of StartLife. “Therefore we wholeheartedly welcome the expertise and support of Normec Foodcare.”

Making impact-driven ideas thrive

Normec Foodcare initiated the partnership with StartLife based on their ambition to deliver added value throughout the chain as a knowledge partner in the field of food safety, product quality and taste. “We believe that no one has the exclusive right to a good idea. Let alone the impact it can have. The best results are achieved when working together. That is why we join forces with partners like StartLife”, explains Roger Nass, director Sales & Marketing of Normec Foodcare. Loet concurs. “We share the believe that collaboration is key to making an impact-driven idea thrive. That makes our organizations a great match.”

Number 1 in Food & Agri Worldwide

Considering the close ties between StartLife and Wageningen University & Research, Normec Foodcare is proud to broaden their collaboration with the number 1 knowledge institute in Food & Agri worldwide. “Through our additional partnership with StartLife, we look forward to helping impact-driven food startups with solutions and advice in areas such as food safety, quality, process control, laboratory testing, label control, legislation and training & education,” says Roger, “and contribute to shaping the future of food.”

About Normec Foodcare

Normec Foodcare originates from a collaboration between leading laboratories, expertise and consultancy firms, and inspection and training organizations in the food sector. All with decades of experience. Together they form Normec Foodcare: knowledge partner in food safety, product quality and taste. By joining forces we help organizations with food consultancy, lab analyzes and sensory research to make an even better contribution to quality throughout the entire chain. From raw material to consumer.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Join The EU Farm To Fork Strategy Consortium

The EU has laid out the ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, also referred to as the ‘European Green Deal’. A healthier and more sustainable EU food system is the cornerstone of this deal. Soon the EU will call for projects that will test, pilot and demonstrate innovative systemic solutions in the agrifood industry. Reach out to Catalyze if you want to apply for the ‘Farm to Fork Strategy  Call’ call and utilize part of the €72M budget that is made available.

Farm to Fork strategy: global standard for sustainability

In the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission has outlined its ambition to transform European food systems into the global standard for sustainability. The formal strategy statement is as follows: ‘addressing the challenges and accelerating the transition to sustainable food systems, to ensure that the economic, social and environmental foundations of food and nutrition security are not compromised for current and future generations.’ To successfully achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and implement a sustainable food system, the EU has made available a total budget of €72 M to be invested in research proposals that address the following  six specific themes.

Six Themes

The European Commission will finance projects that will test, pilot and demonstrate innovative systemic solutions (TRL 5-7) in one of the following six food systems’ challenges:

  1. Achieving climate-neutral farms by reducing GHG emissions and by increasing farm-based carbon sequestration, and storage;
  2. Achieving climate-neutral food businesses by mitigating climate change, reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency in processing, distribution, conservation, and preparation of food;
  3. Reducing the dependence on hazardous pesticides; reducing the use and increasing the efficiency of fertilizers; reducing the losses of nutrients from fertilizers, towards zero pollution of water, soil, and air;
  4. Reducing the dependence on the use of antimicrobials in animal production and aquaculture;
  5. Reducing food losses and waste at every stage of the food chain including consumption, while also avoiding unsustainable packaging;
  6. Shifting to sustainable healthy diets, sourced from land, inland water and sea, and accessible to all EU citizens, including the most deprived and vulnerable groups.

EU Farm to Fork Consortium: who and when?

Now, who can join? Project proposals can be submitted by consortia consisting of about 20-30 independent SMEs (including startups of course), large companies, and research institutes from minimal 3 different EU Member States or Horizon 2020 associated countries.

At StartLife we strongly believe cooperation and partnerships are key to realize disruptive innovation. So it is of no surprise that we urge all interested parties to join the upcoming call for research and innovation projects that are aligned with at least one specific theme of  the Farm to Fork Strategy Call. The call is expected to open in September, and the expected deadline for submission is January 2021. No time to waste!

Support by Catalyze

You probably know that building a consortium and preparing a proposal can be a daunting task. Fortunately our partner Catalyze has a wide experience in building  large consortiums and a strong record of raising non-dilutive funding through grant writing. Over the last years, Catalyze has acquired over € 650 million in funding for its clients.  We suggest you reach out to Suzana Garcia ( or Fosca Poltronieri ( for more information. Phone: +31 (6) 2433 6444.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

What Lidl And Food Startups Learned From Second Future Goods Week

Last July Lidl and StartLife jointly organized the second Future Goods Week. Six sustainable food products from promising startups were made available in all Lidl stores in the Netherlands. What are the lessons learned? Are consumers truly interested in sustainable food? And will there be a third edition next year? Let’s find out.

 “Due to the Coronavirus we could not organize a glamorous launch party as with the first edition of the Lidl Future Goods Week, which was very unfortunate”, says Caroline Bijkerk, who was in the lead for organizing the week together with Lidl. Still, within days after the promotion started the first products were already sold out in numerous Lidl stores. “Dutch consumers are indeed showing a growing preference for more sustainable and healthy food,” Caroline remarks. “At StartLife we also see a growing number of sustainable food startups knocking on our doors. So with both a rising demand and supply it seems crystal clear we are heading in the right direction.”

Lessons learned

The Future Goods Weeks is a unique opportunity for food startups to experience what it takes to get their products in the shelves of a large retailer. As expected and intended, the participating startups learned a great deal in this real live retail-readiness exercise. And the startups learned far more than they expected beforehand, as the following comments by three involved entrepreneurs show.

For Moritz Huber, founder of Sauercrowd, it was truly elevating to reach such a large audience and test their market at such scale. “It was also very insightful to learn about the working process of a large retailer and all the administration that is involved at this level. I had no idea.”

Brad Vanstone, co-founder of Willicroft, also shares his lessons: “Make sure to give yourself a buffer with deadlines as things will inevitably go wrong. And do not shy away from seeking professional advice when it comes to food labeling regulations and requirements.”

Madeleine Gielens, co-founder of MaGie Creations (BrewBar), describes the whole experience as a bootcamp for both professionalizing a food startup and growing as an entrepreneur. “Aside from the business aspects, you really get to develop yourself as an entrepreneur and elevate your problem solving skills to a whole new level. I sincerely recommend other food startups to pursue the same experience.”

Lidl: We want more!

“Superb sales promotion last week. I would love to see this more often at Lidl!” and “The burgers are truly delicious!” “These are just two online comments by Lidl customers, but they sum up the success and lessons of this year’s edition nicely,” observes Erik van den Hoogen, senior manager purchasing at Lidl Netherlands.

“We see an increasing number of customers with a preference for food products that are sustainably produced and are tasty at the same time. At Lidl we also find it important to pay more continuous attention to our themes ‘food waste’ and ‘vegan products’. So from now on Lidl will provide shelf space to sustainable startups all year round”. Food startups that are interested can contact StartLife.

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

NutriLeads Attracts €6.5M Series B Funding

Source: Oost NL

Dutch Health Ingredients company Nutrileads, a StartLife alumni, has announced the closing of a Series B financing round of €6.5 million. The company will use the capital to launch its the immune-enhancing ingredient Xtramune and to progress its portfolio of health ingredients. The capital is provided by Icos Capital together with Goeie-Grutten and existing shareholders DSM Venturing, Oost NL, Shift Invest and Thuja.

NutriLeads, established in 2012 and based in Wageningen, develops innovative natural food ingredients with clinically proven health benefits for application in dietary supplements and functional foods. Its proprietary lead ingredient, XtramuneTM, is a unique carrot-derived fibre supporting immune function and resistance to respiratory infections.

Entering new phase

This series B funding round marks a new phase for the company. Together with global partners in the food and supplement industry, NutriLeads will be driving XtramuneTM towards commercialization in 2021. In addition, two other ingredients from its portfolio, targeting gut health and metabolic health, will be progressed to proof of concept in humans.

Unlocking potential

Ruud Albers, CEO of NutriLeads indicates: “We are very excited about this successful funding round which helps to propel NutriLeads forward. People can strengthen their health with nutrition. It is our ambition to unlock the potential of clinically proven food ingredients and this funding round supports that mission. It is great to see that all our investors are committed to this shared goal.”

Nityen Lal, Managing Director of ICOS Capital Management BV: “Health ingredients are sought-after by food companies and their consumers. NutriLeads has impressed us by its professionalism, the quality of the work done and their network in the industry. We are confident that this is a worthwhile investment both for our LPs as well as for the consumers who will benefit from the health ingredients to be marketed.”


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Vacancy: Office Manager Startlife

StartLife Office Manager

Do you want to use your passion for hospitality and administration to make a difference for the Startlife team? Are you an enthusiastic and pro-active Office Manager? Please read further!

You will never have a dull moment in this job: you work in a young and dynamic team of 14 people on Wageningen Campus in the brand new Plus Ultra II building – the heart of the startup community. You will work with startups, large corporates, researchers, and students. We offer a competitive salary package and excellent secondary conditions.

Your responsibilities include:

  • Hospitality: welcoming guests and answering phone calls
  • Facility management: managing the office, order office supplies, safety (BHV)
  • Administration: document and contract management; update our CRM-system
  • Events: support in the organisation of events
  • Travel management: make international travel arrangements for the team
  • Assistance Management Team: manage agendas and expense declarations
  • Human resources: assisting with on boarding and off boarding of colleagues
  • Mail: process daily mail for StartLife and our startups (incoming/outgoing)

We ask

  • An MBO(+) education or reached this level through another form of training or experience
  • At least 2 years of relevant experience
  • Excellent knowledge of Windows and MS Office tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint); knowledge of working with a CRM-system is a plus
  • Fluency in Dutch and English, both verbally and written
  • Experience with social media is a plus
  • You enjoy helping others, are a great organizer and you have a consistent eye for detail.

We offer

A dynamic position with a competitive salary package (max and excellent secondary conditions. The position starts with a temporary employment contract of 1 year, with the possibility for extension. The function is for 28-32 hours per week.

About StartLife

StartLife supports early phase food and agtech startups to grow into leading enterprises. Since 2011, StartLife has built, supported and funded 300+ startups, propelling breakthrough technologies in the domains of food & agriculture and creating lasting impact. StartLife is a foundation and was co-founded by Wageningen University & Research and is located on Wageningen Campus.


Please let us know why you are the perfect fit for the job and send your cv and motivation to our Operations Director at By doing so, you agree that we process your data. This vacancy is open until 24 August 2020. Interviews will take place on 3-4 September. The starting date will be agreed.

More information about this position? Please give Laura Thissen a call on 06 2241 0815 or drop her a line at

The Netherlands in Top 3 Best Startup Ecosystems in Europe

The Netherlands has moved from fifth to third position for best startup ecosystems in Europe as shown in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 by Startup Genome. The Amsterdam-Delta takes a higher position each year and is now in 12th position in the global ranking. Startup Genome finds the Agtech, Food & Life Sciences performance particularly impressive.

Each year Startup Genome publishes their global startup ecosystem report, for which they analyze well over 1 million companies in 300 tech ecosystems. The index is based on figures from 2019, the effect of the corona pandemic on startups worldwide and in the Netherlands is not included.

Impressive AgTech, Food & Life Sciences performance

The Dutch startup ecosystem is celebrated for its high degree of social and logistical connection with the rest of the world, the increasingly mature investment climate and the extent to which Dutch startups tap into markets worldwide. Startup Genome is particularly impressed by the strong Dutch performance in AgTech & New Food and Life Sciences. Examples include Picnic, the online grocery platform that raised an investment of $ 275 million in 2019.

Ecosystem Challenges

No startup ecosystem is perfect. In comparison to other EU ecosystems the number and size of Series A+ funding remains a challenge in the Netherlands, as wells as the impact of publications and research and the volume of patents in the ecosystem. Stockholm, the number two on the European list, shows better performance in number of successful exits. And London -currently- the number one startup ecosystem in Europe, scores better on VC activity and overall performance.

StartLife remains strongly committed to help move forward the Dutch startup ecosystem, most notably for Food, AgTech and Life Sciences startups.  Hence, we already look forward to the ranking of the best startup ecosystems in Europe, and worldwide, next year.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Highlights Graduation Day of StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020

On 24 June we celebrated the graduation of nine startups of the StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020 cohort. On behalf of StartLife and the nine graduated startups we thank all 200+ participants for joining our first global and virtual graduation day. We are happy to share some Graduation Day highlights with you.

Video Compilation

View our graduation day in less than 3 minutes with our video compilation.

The full 1,5 hour webinar

View the full 1,5 hour webinar.

Presentation slides

Download the presentation slides of the webinar.

Program Booklet

Download the program booklet with background information and contact details of the graduated startups.

StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020 Graduation Day Booklet_Frontpage

See you again!

We look forward to welcoming you again another time, hopefully in person!

About StartLife Accelerate Program

If you like to learn more about the 12-week acceleration program of start please visit our StartLife Accelerate webpage.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


StartLife Alumni Updates – July 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

Ellipsis closes deal with the city of Rotterdam

Zonnepanelen op dak

In the context of our energy transition, the city of Rotterdam wants to continuously map how many solar panels are installed in their city. Ellipsis has been selected to detect all solar panels in Rotterdam using remote sensing and AI, and link this information to the municipal information systems. Rotterdam chose Ellipsis because they can easily integrate the information into the existing information systems of the city and their associates. This critical step, going from raw data outputs to easily shareable and integrable geoinformation, is a major challenge that companies with an AI expertise only, have difficulty solving.

StartLife Grants 350,000 euro Next Stage Funding

StartLife StartLife Pre-seed Fund

StartLife offers promising food- & agtech startups up to 85,000 euro non-dilutive funding, which is split into three stages. For each stage startups have to pitch and defend their case in front of StartLife’s Review Board; a group of agrifood investors and serial-entrepreneurs. Last week the review board granted 350,000 euro to nine StartLife startups.

Collecting 330,000 euro for Take Off


The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has recently completed a new funding round from their Take-Off program, which is aimed at stimulating innovative activity based on the knowledge development and utilization by researchers at knowledge institutions. Three StartLife / Starthub startups participated in the spring 2020 call and were all granted funding. Drone-specialist Van Boven receives a loan of €250,000 for early stage routes. Remode Solutions, developer of custom-made 3D printed bioreactors, and dairy-fat-alternative producer Time Travelling Milkman both received €40,000 for conducting feasibility studies.

View full list of funded Take Off projects

Premal obtains 150,000 euro from Rabobank Innovation Fund


Malaria prevention and control company PreMal recently obtained a Rabo Innovation loan of €150,000. The loan, which is an initiative of the Innovation Fund Rabobank, provides Dutch early-stage entrepreneurs with a good innovative idea that contributes to the digitization, sustainability and/or vitalization of society the opportunity to further develop their plans.

Wanted: CTO with master in chemical engineering

NXT Cotton

Do you know a master in chemical engineering who likes to help making the textile industry more circular? Dutch startup NXT Cotton Solutions is looking for a Chief Technology Officer. Responsibilities: Program lead for scale-up phase, technological and operational part of Pilot Facility & (Demo) Plant. Set up the NXT Cotton Operational team. Counterpart and sparring partner of the WUR research team.

Download the full vacancy text (pdf) here.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Lidl Provides Shelf Space To StartLife Startups During Future Goods Week


For the second year in a row Lidl and StartLife co-organize the Lidl Future Goods Week. From July 9th you will find six sustainable food products from promising startups in all Lidl stores in the Netherlands. With this initiative Lidl provides food startups the opportunity to get their first retail experience, whilst Lidl works on its mission to make sustainable products available to and affordable for a large audience at the same time.

Sharing knowledge

Lidl feels it is important to use their knowledge and experience to help small companies kick-off successfully. At the same time Lidl learns from the startups, who show courage and vigor by developing their own product. As one of Europe’s leading agrifood accelerators StartLife is involved in the Lidl Future Goods Week by scouting and screening food startups that develop products contributing to the sustainability of our food chain. Erik van den Hoogen, senior purchasing manager at Lidl, explains: “StartLife knows which concepts are disruptive and solid and how Lidl can help attain an even more efficient and sustainable food production”.

From 100 to 1000s consumers

Producing and selling a large number of products at consistent quality that meets all food (safety) regulations is a daunting challenge, in particular for startups. At StartLife we feel that the Future Goods Week offers startups an excellent chance to build up ‘retail experience’ and learn valuable lessons. Caroline Bijkerk, global partnership manager at StartLife, elaborates: “With support from StartLife and Lidl experts the startups get the change to scale their production from hundreds to thousands consumers with products that meet all requirements. This is an unique opportunity for the startups to hit the shelves and start making a true impact”.

Lidl’s Future Goods Selection

From eleven startups that were given the opportunity to pitch their products at Lidl’s Headquarters in the Netherlands the following six Future Goods products made it to the shelves at Lidl.

  • Farmer&Foodie burger, a plant-based burger made from side stream materials like tomato and mushrooms,
  • BrewBar, a bar made from brewers’ spent grains,
  • Little Hoppers, mini sausage rolls filled with crickets,
  • SauerCrowd, fermented vegetables with gut-friendly lactic acid bacteria,
  • This is Not Parmesan, plant-based cheese made in the Netherlands,
  • JOAN, tea grown in the Netherlands.



p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Limagrain Explores Partnership Opportunities At Wageningen Campus

Limagrain Innovation Day 2020 at Wageningen CampusThis week we held a virtual Innovation Day for and with one of StartLife’s newest corporate partners, Limagrain. Limagrain, one of the largest seed companies worldwide, actively explored their partnership opportunities with the StartLife community on Wageningen Campus. And when we say active, we mean active!

Devoted to innovation

We were impressed with Limagrain’s truly company-wide interest and devotion to startups, innovation and new partnerships. We had the pleasure to get acquainted with well over 50 Limagrain staff members, including innovation managers, R&D staff and heads of department. The Limagrain staff met with a wide array of people and organizations on Wageningen Campus, amongst which 14 innovative startups with which they had dedicated in-depth Meet & Greet sessions.


Valérie MAZZA, head of Scientific Affairs and Innovation of Limagrain, provided the following reflection on the Innovation Day: “Today our young partnership with StartLife has gotten wings. We have all been inspired so much and learned a great deal from our interaction with the startups and other organizations we met. We are thrilled to have partnered with StartLife and look forward to future meetings and connections to be made.”

Virtual Graduation Day of StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort

With great pleasure we invite you to the graduation of nine ambitious Food- & AgTech startups of the StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020 Cohort, which takes place online on Wednesday, June 24th 2020 from 15.30 to 18.00 (Central European Summer Time). For the first time we open the doors to our graduation day to the  global F&A community. 


About the startups

The agrifood industry is actively searching for sustainable food alternatives, like plant-based dairy, land-based salmon and, oh yes, bugs! The industry is also concerned with a more sustainable use of resources, striving to minimize water usage and crop spoilage and optimizing the circularity of materials. How can corporates ensure trust, quality and fair ownership in their agrifood supply chains? And how can we keep our waters safe from blue algae? Our nine early-stage startups tackle these global challenges.

For a list of the nine startups we suggest reading “9 New Agrifood Startups Prepare To Tackle Global Challenges“.

Innovative Graduation Day

The graduation will be a virtual event with innovative elements that allow you to connect and interact with the graduating startups and other participants before, during and after the event. We take great pleasure in introducing a Virtual Walk In and Virtual Meeting Lounge where you can live chat with participants. You can also join Startup Round Tables where you can talk (video/chat) with the startups in a small group.


15.00 – Virtual Walk In*
15.30 – Opening & Welcome
15.35 – Program Highlights
15.40 – Startup pitches (part I)
16:05 – Corporate panel: How will the covid-19 pandemic reshape our food supply chains?
16.30 – Startup pitches (part II)
16.50 – Alumnus Update: SAIA Agrobotics
16.55 – Closing words
17.00 – Optional: Virtual Meeting Lounge & Startup Round Tables*

*Requires the use of Networkapp. Information will be send after registration.


Click the button below to register for the graduation day of the StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020 cohort.

Event highlights

Update 2 July: missed the Graduation Day? No worries. Click here to view all the highlight of the event, including after movie, program booklet, presentation slides and the full 1.5 hour webinar.

StartLife Alumni Updates – May 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

3 million euros for Cerescon’s asparagus harvesting robot

StartLife alumnus since 2015 

Cerescon's asparagus harvesting robot: Sparter

Cerescon, the developer of the very first selective asparagus harvesting robot, Sparter, seems to benefit from the impact of the coronavirus. Many growers of asparagus, the ‘white gold’, are currently confronted with a 30% shortfall in manual harvesters. “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, interest in Sparter has doubled now that harvesters are even thinner on the ground,” explains Mark van Lier, international sales manager at Cerescon. A Dutch informal has recently invested an additional 3 million euro in the company. Cerescon will be using this extra capital to boost sale and production of Sparter, after the 1-row self-propelling harvesting robot was put through its paces during the current asparagus harvesting season.

Read the full press release.

Livestock management software company Serket receives 350,000 euros early phase funding

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Serket - Livestock Management Software

Serket, a software company that aims to revolutionize the livestock farming industry, has recently been granted a loan of 350,000 euro from the Early Phase Funding initiative of Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (Netherlands Enterprise Agency). The loan is used to further develop their Piguard software, an innovative Livestock Health Management application that uses regular security cameras and artificial intelligence to identify health, reproduction and environmental changes early on and translate visual information into actionable data.

Sponsh Finalist In Europe’s Best Social Entrepreneurs Tournament

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Sponsh - Water from Air

Sponsh, a Dutch startup that extracts water from air to fight water shortage, has been selected for the 2020 edition of the Social Innovation Tournament (SIT), the flagship initiative of the EIB Institute’s social program recognizing and supporting Europe’s best social entrepreneurs. The finalists, whose primary purpose is to generate a social, ethical or environmental impact, were selected from an group of 216 candidates in 31 countries. The finals take place in Lisbon on 8 October – in which all the finalists will have to present and defend their project before a jury of social innovation specialists.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Rabobank And StartLife Extend Strategic Partnership To Drive Food & AgTech Innovation

Rabobank-StartLife Extend Partnership May 2020

Rabobank and StartLife announced today that they have extended their strategic partnership aimed at supporting impactful food and agtech startups for another three years. Both parties feel it is vital to ensure innovative and sustainable solutions that help secure the future of our global food supply get the best chances to succeed. Now more than ever.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed alarming fragility in our agrifood supply chains. It demonstrates the undisputed urgency of investing in a more resilient agrifood system. We need the creativity, agility and eagerness of startups to make that change.” With these words Mariska de Kleijne, director Rabobank, underlines the importance of the partnership between Rabobank and StartLife. “Startups can help make the change, but need all the support they can get. Together with StartLife we can provide startups the support they need.”

First European platform for startups and investors

Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife, concurs fully to Mariska’s words. “At StartLife we strongly believe that the innovative capacity of startups are, and will be, the driving force behind the innovations needed to meet the global food demand in the future.” At the same time Jan believes startups cannot manage by themselves but need collaboration with the big corporates for their mass impact and investors for their belief. “For this reason StartLife and Rabobank co-founded, together with Anterra Capital and Wageningen University & Research, F&A Next five years ago, which (still) is the leading European platform for investors, startups and scaleups in the F&A domain. We could not have pulled that off single-handedly.“

Agrifood startup nursery

Gerben Dijksterhuis, innovation manager at Rabobank, loves working with StartLife’ startups. “StartLife is a startup nursery in the field of agri-food, which makes it a great place to connect with the bright and ambitious minds that are the creators of innovative startups. Like FUMI Ingredients.” FUMI Ingredients, a spin off from Wageningen University & Research, developed the world’s first all-natural egg-white replacer that -at the same- is potentially cheaper than regular chicken egg protein. “They won the Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award last year and have the potential to truly make a difference. It is exciting to see how such a company makes incredible progress in such a short period of time.”

Added value to startups

“It is undisputed that Rabobank and StartLife have a great partnership going,” says Jan Meiling. “The enthusiasm and helping hand of Rabobank and their staff is truly amazing. They provide our startups with valuable industry insights, help make connections with customers that are leading companies in the F&A domain and offer our startups friendly funding facilities like subordinated innovation loans. We look forward to continuing our partnership for decades to come.”

Photo: Because of the Covid-19 health protection measures the extension of the partnership was heralded with an energetic virtual high five by Mariska de Kleijne (Rabobank) and Jan Meiling (StartLife), facilitated bij Gerben Dijksterhuis (Rabobank).


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Royal Cosun Opens Doors For Innovative Agtech Startups With StartLife

Virtual Champaign Toasting on Partnership between Cosun and StartLife
Because of the Covid-19 health protection measures the start of the partnership was heralded with a remote champagne toast by the signees of the agreement.

Today, 23 April 2020, Royal Cosun and StartLife announce a strategic partnership aimed to actively connect innovative agtech startups with Cosun. Cosun’s ambition is to be a leader in plant based innovations. To increase their innovative strength and development speed they seek out for close collaborations with innovative startups.

Cosun has set out the ambition to be 100% plant based, circular and transparent by 2030. Entrepreneurship and open innovation play a key role in reaching their ambition and so Cosun is opening their doors for innovative agtech startups, with the help of StartLife. “Cosun already works closely with Wageningen University & Research, so it only made sense to enter into a partnership with StartLife who is also based on Wageningen Campus and is one of Europe’s leading agrifood accelerators,” explains Frank van Noord, VP Cosun Innovation.

Sharing R&D facilities and coaching

Cosun has a lot to offer to agrifood startups. First of all, startups are welcomed to use the R&D facilities at Cosun’s innovation center in Dinteloord. Secondly, the company offers individual coaching and brainpower to startups. “We know how to scale up a new business. And we are familiar with all challenges and hurdles that you face when bringing an innovation to the market,” says Frank. “Our experts look forward to coaching young entrepreneurs and help them think through their business case.”

Making a difference together

Cosun is a valuable addition to StartLife’s current lineup of corporate partnerships. “Cosun’s focus on plant based innovations and agtech, our overlapping innovation themes and shared vision of innovating with startups makes our organizations a great match,” says Jan Meiling. “We are also particularly fond of the 2030 ambitions of Cosun. They really want to make a difference – just like StartLife and our startups.”

About Royal Cosun

Royal Cosun is a modern cooperative that processes arable crops and other vegetable raw materials. They work with thousands of growers, both members of the cooperative and suppliers. Cosun recognizes the enormous potential of plants and knows how to turn them into practical solutions for everyday life. The Cosun business groups (Aviko, Duynie, Sensus, Suiker Unie and SVZ) produce not only plant based ingredients and foodstuffs for people and animals, but also green, biobased applications and energy.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


StartLife Alumni Updates – April 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members

NGS Secures Convertible Loan Of 250k euro From LIOF

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

NGS plus 500 euro biljetten

Next Generations Sensors (NGS) receives €250,000 from the Limburg Business Development Fund (LBDF) of LIOF, the regional development company of the Dutch Province of Limburg. NGS will use the funding to deliver a proof-of-concept for a portable mass spectrometer that can test monsters real time outside a laboratory and is specifically designed for application in the agrifood sector.

Epinutra Collects 150k euro Subordinated Loan From Rabobank

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

Epinutra plus euro biljetten

Rabobank recently granted Epinutra, an affiliate company of Thelial Technologies S.A., their Subordinated Innovation Loan (Achtergestelde Innovatie Lening) of 150,000 euro. Epinutra is dedicated to the development of BenescoTM, a targeted nutraceutical ingredient designed to support esophagus health in people that suffer from heartburn. The loan is available for early-stage startups who are working on innovation. Even if there are no proven results or insufficient cash flow. (For the record, the loan is unrelated to financial instruments that help startups overcome the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.)

Four StartLife Alumni Receive Follow Up Funding From StartLife Pre-seed Fund

StartLife StartLife Pre-seed Fund

StartLife’s review board has granted four StartLife alumni their second or third batch of funding from StartLife Pre-seed Fund. The follow up funding is available for startups who participated in the StartLife Accelerate program and have reached predefined milestones. Viroteq received their second batch tranche worth 25,000 euro. Greencovery, De Krekerij and Sundew were granted their third and final tranche of 50,000 euro.

GreenFood: breakthrough fractionation technology for quinoa

StartLife community member since 2014

Greenfood50 quinoa
(c) GreenFood50

Quinoa production in the EU has grown significantly over the last decade. However, due to a lack of tailored technology, its uptake as a protein alternative remains low. But this is about to change, thanks to breakthrough fractionation technology developed by GreenFood50, with the support of the EU-funded QUINNOVA project. The technology, which generates a high-protein fraction, uses an innovative, dry fractionation process that is environmentally friendly and operates using less energy and water than alternative technologies. With the production process now streamlined and scaled up, GreenFood50 is ready to accelerate the introduction of QUINNOVA products onto the market.

Read the full press release.


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on Linkedin, Twitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


Klasmann-Deilmann Extends Corporate Partnership with StartLife

corporate partner startlife klasmann-deilmann substrate horticulture
Signing partnership agreement in 2017 by (from left to right) Ted Vollebregt , Jan Meiling, and Sjors Beijer.

In May 2017 Klasmann-Deilmann entered into a strategic partnership with StartLife. The partnership was aimed at boosting their innovation development program and gaining access to innovative startups in commercial horticulture. As the collaboration exceeded their expectations by far, the market leader in professional horticulture substrates decided to extend their corporate partnership for another three years.

“StartLife has demonstrated to be a truly valuable partner in further developing our innovation road map and help initiating our corporate-startup engagement,” says Ted Vollebregt, managing director of Klasmann-Deilmann Benelux. “The StartLife staff gave us great input for our innovation program and has been very helpful in building bridges to numerous organizations,” adds Sjors Beijer, Innovation Manager at Klasmann-Deilmann.

Innovation community

Ted Vollebregt notes that they have learned a great deal from their interactions with startups, most notably from Sigrow with whom they partnered up with, but also from the close contacts with the other corporate partners of StartLife. “The corporate partners of StartLife cover a broad section of the value chain, which allows us to gain from a diverse set of experiences on corporate-startup engagement and a more holistic perspective on developments in the market.”

Finding horticultural talents

Wageningen is an excellent spot to connect with business peers and stay up-to-date with latest developments. For Klasmann-Deilmann, Wageningen has also proven to be an excellent source of horticultural talents. Sjors Beijer explains: “It is challenging to find good staff in commercial horticulture. Our close connections with Wageningen Campus, among them StartLife, are helpful in finding the right people. During our partnership with StartLife we have successfully attracted several talented employees from Wageningen University & Research who are now employed with us in several parts in the world.”

Stirred, not shaken

For Caroline Bijkerk, who is fully dedicated to making each corporate partnership with StartLife successful for all parties involved, the extension is as much a business success as personally rewarding. “Getting the right mix of corporate partners, startups and other stakeholders together can be a challenging task. It is a cocktail of diverse organizational cultures, shared believes, love for innovation and much more, stirred but not shaken by the desire to create real impact,” expresses Caroline Bijkerk. “I look forward to the following three years of collaboration with the team of Klasmann-Deilmann.”


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on Linkedin, Twitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.


StartLife Becomes Partner Of EIT Food

Logos of Partners EIT Food and StartLife

StartLife proudly announces to have been accepted as Network Partner in EIT Food, a pan-European consortium that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in the food sector. Its members are world-class players in the international food and agricultural domain. Being a member of EIT Food enables StartLife to connect with new startups and partners as well as participate in activities that help to create and scale-up impactful food and agtech startups.

Building bridges

Both StartLife and EIT Food support innovative impactful startups to deliver new food innovations and transform the industry. There are many different EIT Food activities aimed at creating and scaling-up food startups that help build a future proof food system. “As official Network Partner StartLife is now in the position to contribute and participate in these activities and help connect our startups with even more world-class players in the food domain,” explains Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife.

Shared agenda

Dr. Georg Schirrmacher, Director of EIT Food Central, welcomes StartLife wholeheartedly as new member of the EIT Food community. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. This famous quote definitely applies to the mission of EIT Food,” says Dr. Schirrmacher. “As an active and trusted player in the European startup ecosystem, StartLife is a great addition to our consortium. By bringing all key players together, we are building a shared vision for the future of food, and a shared agenda to transform it and make it better.”


EIT Food is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe. EIT Food entails a unique and growing network of partners that provide a holistic view of the ag-food value chain, including key industry players, agrifood startups, research centres and universities from across Europe. The EIT Food community members work closely together to deliver an innovative and entrepreneurial ag-food sector that is more sustainable, healthy and trusted.

Logo EIT FOOD with EU flag


p.s. You can also follow StartLife on Linkedin, Twitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.