All posts by Bram van Beek

StartLife Picks 9 Startups Building Toward Sustainable Agriculture

StartLife has selected nine new early-stage startups to join its seventh acceleration program this fall. The startups have been selected for their promising technological solutions that are designed to fix issues like food waste, pollution and decarbonization, and support sustainable food production. Almost half of the tech startups selected are co-founded by women.

Globally, we have a growing number of mouths to feed. That is a huge challenge. But it’s not just about producing more food. Affordability, health, accessibility and sustainable production also play an equally important role. To achieve this, we need to radically change our food supply chain. “And that’s where startups come in,” says Loet Rammelsberg, program director at StartLife. “The startups that we selected are SDG-driven and aim to contribute to a sustainable agriculture and responsible food production.”

Together with our partners, which includes Wageningen University & Research, venture capital firms and corporates in the food and agriculture domain, we will help these early-stage startups to speed up their business development process towards becoming an impactful company.

Smart and novel agrifood technologies

A quick rundown of the nine companies and their agrifood technologies:

  • Agcurate (NL) – Providing rural agricultural intelligence via remote sensing
  • Crocus Labs (DE) – Disrupting the horticulture industry with smart lighting solutions
  • Glaia (UK)* – Nanotechnology-based solutions that optimize plant performance for a sustainable agriculture
  • Infitiv (NL)* – Early-warning solution for food quality degradation and spoilage detection
  • InPhocal (NL)* – Sustainable and waste-free marking of food and packaging
  • Irriot (SE) – Wireless intelligent irrigation automation
  • Muddy Machines (UK) – New generation of agricultural field robots
  • ReShore (NL) – Creating living breakwater: regenerative aquaculture and coastal protection
  • Solasta Bio (UK)* – Nature-based insecticides for safe and effective crop protection

Identifying all-star startup teams

Choosing the most promising startups is a challenge for any investor, in particularly when it concerns early-stage startups.

“It is not just about technology and impact. In the end it all comes down to how well the startup team performs.” ~ Loet Rammelsberg

“The startup teams we have selected are pretty diverse. Some of the founders are recent university graduates, others are renowned experts in their fields. Some startup teams are have years of experience together, other teams are recently formed.”

Rammelsberg also points out that almost half of the startup teams selected include female co-founders.* This is remarkable considering that there are relatively few female tech entrepreneurs. “Gender is not a selection criterion for us, but we do appreciate diverse teams. Startup teams with both genders are known to be more successful, show a higher return on invested capital and are built in a more sustainable way.”

Live virtual pitching event on 9 December

In the coming months, the startups will sharpen their business case, improve their technologies and prepare for (further) investments. On December 9th, at 3PM CEST, startups will conclude the acceleration program with an online presentation to a wide and global audience of investors, corporates, partners and other agrifood enthusiasts. It is an open event. If you are interested in attending, we invite you to pre-register now via the form below.


p.s. Stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via StartLife’s Linkedin or Twitter account or via the StartLife newsletter (8x a year).

StartLife Welcomes FUMI Ingredients To Startup Office

Founding Team of FUMI Ingredients

StartLife, Kadans Science Partner and Wageningen Campus are excited to welcome FUMI Ingredients to the startup community located in Plus Ultra II, the newest multi-tenant building on Wageningen Campus. FUMI Ingredient is moving into one of the  office spaces dedicated to agrifoodtech startups.

Established in 2019, with the support of StartLife, FUMI Ingredients is an innovative foodtech start-up that focuses on alternative proteins that can replace proteins coming from chicken eggs. Their vegan proteins have a low CO2 footprint and are easy to produce without any expensive machines or chemicals. This makes the cost of production competitive with egg proteins. FUMI Ingredients protein also contains similar properties to egg proteins and contain a balanced, essential amino acid profile.

Agrifood ecosystem

FUMI Ingredients chose Plus Ultra II for their new office because of its dynamic ecosystem, which allows the company to connect with other startups, scale-ups as well as nearby located corporates and research institutes. According to its co-founders, Corjan van den Berg (left on photo) and Edgar Suarez Garcia (right on photo), the ability to rent a small office on campus, close to their laboratory, is also a huge advantage.

“Wageningen Campus is just in many ways the most logical place for us to be situated.”

Plus Ultra II

Plus Ultra II offers office and lab spaces to startups, scale-ups and established companies and organizations that want to contribute to a vibrant community concerning agri & food and a healthy living environment. Dedicated offices can also be rented on the first floor for tech startups in their next phase of development.

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.


p.s. Stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via StartLife’s Linkedin or Twitter account or via the StartLife newsletter (8x a year).

Future Food Fund and StartLife: Elevating Game-changing Agrifood Startups


Future Food Fund, a Dutch seed capital fund with a focus on innovative agricultural and food technologies, announced today that they have joined forces with StartLife. The partners combine their fund, expertise and global network to provide innovative startups in the food and agricultural domains with the best possible growth support.

The human race is up against the biggest food challenge of all times: feeding a large and growing world population with a declining amount of resources. The entire food value chain needs to be radically changed in order to ensure a sufficient and healthy food supply whilst also safeguarding our planet. Bringing about change is never easy. And, by definition, systemic change is never achieved by just one organization. Organizations need to work together and utilize each other’s strengths. This is where the partnership of StartLife and Future Food Fund (FFF) comes in, says Peter Arensman, founding and managing partner of FFF:

“Providing potential game-changing startups a combination of capital, know-how and the ability to open doors that otherwise remain shut. Together we can help make that change.”

Supporting entrepreneurial ingenuity

Innovative startups have to overcome many challenges and hurdles to reach the point where they start making an impact. Only a few startups make it that far. “We need to ensure that the entrepreneurial ingenuity that is out there is given all the support needed to reach that threshold for change. This partnership is designed to do just that,” says Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife.

“With FFF, StartLife not ‘only’ brings an investor partner on board, we also welcome a team of entrepreneurs with backgrounds in food & agriculture and technology who are dedicated to lifting early-stage startups to a higher level. What it comes down to is that StartLife helps early-stage agrifoodtech startups to get ready for the follow-up growth support by FFF.

Smart agrifood technologies

Both organizations focus primarily on technology-based startups in the agriculture and food domains. Arensman: “We are particularly interested in technologies related to smart and clean farming, bio-based economy, sustainable food production, circular intelligent logistics and alternative foods as we believe that these areas offer some of the best chances for large-scale impact.” Ambitious startups in these fields are invited to connect with StartLife. “Our doors are always open”, says Meiling.

About Future Food Fund

Future Food Fund is a seed capital fund that is founded and funded by 30 entrepreneurs. They have backgrounds primarily in the food & agriculture and technology domains and wish to actively contribute to the success of the fund, not only with money but also with their experience and network. Future Food Fund is aimed at Dutch companies that want to impact the food & agricultural sector with innovative technology and/or disruptive business models.


p.s. Stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via StartLife’s Linkedin or Twitter account or via the StartLife newsletter (8x a year).

Food Waste Monitor Orbisk Raises €1.05M Seed Funding

StartLife alumnus Orbisk has successfully raised  €1.05M seed funding for its fully automated food waste monitor for hospitality organizations.  Orbisk will use the funding to further its R&D and go-to-market efforts and advance towards scale.

Using artificial intelligence, Orbisk’s waste monitors automatically identify what food and how much of it is thrown away by food service companies. By monitoring what food gets thrown out, restaurants and cafeterias not only reduce the amount of good food going into the garbage, they also save money by not spending it on food that customers don’t want. Orbisk’s solution is currently used by 50 restaurants, which are now benefiting from an average food waste reduction of 40 – 50%.

2.1 billion tons food waste

Food waste is big problem. Each year over 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. This equals 4.4 billion tons in C02 emissions, which accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Orbisk’s waste monitors are used in the hospitality industry, which accounts for 15% of all food waste globally. That is over 150 million tons food waste annually wordwide and 10 million tons annually in the EU alone.  Without impactful interventions, food waste is expected to grow to 2.1 billion tons by 2030, representing a major economic burden of €1.1 trillion on the hospitality sector and environmental burden on society.*

Investors double down their stakes

With so much potential impact, it is no wonder that this proven solution receives support from investors. The funding round was led by FoodSparks by PeakBridge VC (one of StartLife’s investor partners), with participation from EIT Food, and existing investors DOEN Participaties B.V. and Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM) of which the latter have doubled down on their prior investments in the company.

*Source: Catalyze Group


p.s. Stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via StartLife’s Linkedin or Twitter account or via the StartLife newsletter (8x a year).

WUR Remains Best Agricultural University Worldwide

For the fifth time in a row, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is ranked as the best agricultural university worldwide, according to the 2021 edition of the Shanghai Ranking. In addition to the number one position in agricultural science, the WUR is ranked 2nd in geography, 3nd in food science & technology and 4nd in ecology.

The Shanghai Ranking, officially known as the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), is regarded as one of the most influential and widely observed university rankings. ARWU rankings are based on the quality of scientific research at those institutions. The ranking is appraised for its objectivity and methodology.

From a selection of 1,200 universities, the best 500 are determined by 6 indicators. These indicators are:

  • alumni winning prizes,
  • staff winning prizes,
  • highly cited researchers,
  • number of papers,
  • publications in journals, and
  • per capita academic performance.

The list is headed by Harvard University from the United States. Utrecht University (rank 50) is one of two European universities that take a spot in the top 50. WUR is ranked as one of the best 150 universities in the world. Check the full Shanghai Ranking 2021 list and the scores of Wageningen University & Research.

How to connect your startup with WUR?

We our very proud of the academic achievements of WUR, that is also one of the co-founders and lead partners of StartLife. We also take great pleasure in connecting startups with WUR researchers and students to support their business development and growth.

If you are a startup in the food & agri space and want to connect with WUR, make sure to reach out to us.


p.s. Stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scale-ups and more via StartLife’s Linkedin or Twitter account or via the StartLife newsletter (8x a year).

Vacancy: Program Coordinator at StartLife

Seven new food & agtech startups for StartLife’s Accelerate ProgramDo you love startups and want to contribute to building a sustainable food system? Moreover, is multitasking your second nature? Then join the StartLife team as a program coordinator and be our spider in the web.

About the position

As program coordinator, you make sure that everything runs smoothly. StartLife offers training, funding and coaching to (inter)national startups – and you are the main point of contact for startups on the organization and administration of these activities. You will help in planning and organizing programs and activities as well as carry out important operational duties. You keep the overview of new startups that we support and update our CRM-systems and legal documentation.

You will work very closely with the entire StartLife team, our startups and partners: you will support our Global Partnerships Manager and Startup Scouts to organize (online) meet & greets sessions with corporates; you will also support our Program Director to organize our flagship accelerate program; you give a hand to our Investor Relations Manager to set up online meetings with our startups and investors; and you support the entire team with demo days, and other virtual / hybrid meetups. You also help out with the organization of international startups visiting the Wageningen ecosystem.

StartLife has an energetic, ambitious team that goes the extra mile for impact-driven agri & food startups. As we manage several programs at the same time, things can get busy! Ideally, you worked a couple of years as an office manager, PMO or event manager and are able to show you keep a clear head during busy rollercoaster times.

What we ask from you

  • You’ve completed secondary vocational education (MBO, min. level 4)
  • You’re a great organizer, don’t get stressed out easily and you’re super structured!
  • You’re an active social media user and love organizing online meetings – and of course you can work with Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • You’re fluent in Dutch and English, both verbally and written
  • You are a go-getter – you get things done!

What we offer you

As StartLife’s Program Coordinator, you will work in a fun, international team of 14 people that go the extra mile for impact-driven agri & food startups. You will work in the heart of the agrifood startup community on Wageningen Campus. And you will have the flexibility to work partly remote. We offer a dynamic position with responsibility from Day 1.

Your monthly salary depends on your knowledge and experience, and will be in the range of gross € 2,200 – € 2,800 per month for a full working week (36 hours). A working week of 32 hours is also possible. The duration of the employment contract is initially for one year via Randstad Payrolling with the intention to extend. Please note that a permanent working permit in the Netherlands is required for this position.

About StartLife

StartLife is the top agrifoodtech startup accelerator in The Netherlands and Europe, co-founded by Wageningen University & Research. We offer a world-class acceleration program, top industry business mentors, non-equity funding and access to a global community of startups, investors, corporates and experts. Since 2010 we’ve supported over 400 agrifoodtech startups that have raised over €185 million follow-on capital.


Please let us know why you are the perfect fit for the job. Send your c.v. and motivation letter to our Operations Director before 3 September 2021 at By doing so, you agree that we process your data.

For more information, please contact Laura Thissen (Operations Director) on +31 6 2241 0815.


Vacancy: Foodtech Startup Scout at StartLife

Agrifood Accelerator StartLife Team 2020

Is foodtech your game and building a better world your aim? Take the next step in your career and become StartLife’s Foodtech Startup Scout! In this position you will be in the lead for finding and picking Europe’s next heroes in foodtech. And with the support of StartLife, leading corporates and investors, you will help them succeed!

About the position

As our Foodtech Startup Scout you have one main aim: finding and selecting the most impactful European early phase foodtech startups for our Accelerate program. You’ll also match startups with leading corporates and investors from all over the world. You will work together with corporates like Givaudan – the world’s largest flavor & fragrance producer, Yili – Asia’s largest dairy producer. And with investors, such as the YieldLab Europe, Doehler Ventures, and ICOS capital. As a contact person for our startups and corporates you will help to organize meetups with those partners.

In this position you will operate at the frontier of foodtech innovation. You are one of the first to know where the future of food is taking us. You will come across breakthrough technologies and meet the most inspiring impact-driven foodtech startups. You’ll grow fast in this role, get to know the startup scene inside-out and work with an amazing team at StartLife! You’ll quickly grow your professional network and build warm relations with leading food & agriculture companies and startup hubs.

What you will do as Foodtech Startup Scout at StartLife

  • Participate in offline and online agrifood events to identify high potential foodtech startups for our programs and act as direct point of contact for new startups
  • Utilize online channels and social media to identify and connect to relevant startups
  • Engage with our global Foodtech & Agtech corporate partners on their innovation challenges and our investor partners on deal flow
  • Manage relations with other startup accelerators/incubators in Europe to identify potential startups
  • Help organize meet & greets, selection days, demo days, and other virtual / hybrid meetups.

What we ask from you

  • You love foodtech startups;  your own startup experience is a strong plus
  • You’ve completed a bachelor / master in food technology, biotechnology or a related field.
  • You’re out-going, a go-getter: you get things done and you know it
  • You’re super active on social media and love organizing online meetings
  • You speak and write excellent English. Ideally also Dutch.

What we offer you

As a Startup Scout, you will work in a fun, international team of 14 people that go the extra mile for impact-driven agri & food startups. You will work in the heart of the agrifood startup community on Wageningen Campus. And from your own home, if you like. We offer a dynamic position with responsibility from day one – you decide what to make of this position and there’s room to grow fast!

Your monthly salary depends on your knowledge and experience; with a maximum of gross €2,932 monthly for 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. Please note that a permanent working permit in the Netherlands is required for this position.

About StartLife

StartLife is the top agrifoodtech startup accelerator in The Netherlands and Europe, co-founded by Wageningen University & Research. We offer a world-class acceleration program, top industry business mentors, non-equity funding and access to a global community of startups, investors, corporates and experts. Since 2010 we’ve supported over 400 agrifoodtech startups that have raised over €185 million follow-on capital.


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

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

Crop CRISPR Startup Hudson River Biotechnology Raises €5M Series A Funding

The Dutch agricultural biotech company Hudson River Biotechnology (HRB), a StartLife alumnus, has  raised 5 million euro in Series A funding. The company focuses on CRISPR-based genome editing in plants. The raised investment – which consists 50% of non-dilutive funding- will be used to further develop HBR’s nanotech offering and explore market opportunities, as well as scaling up its core crop-breeding business.

Hudson River Biotechnology was launched in 2015 by two founders who meet each other at the Hudson River in New York City, hence the company name. In 2017 they decided to work specifically on the application of CRISPR in plant breeding, which lead to a seed round in 2018. Since then, they have been successful in addressing the two main bottlenecks in applying CRISPR to plants: knowing where to make edits, delivering the CRISPR ‘machinery’ inside the plant, and plant regeneration – getting it from the lab in an in vitro situation back to a real plant that can go in a field or greenhouse,” as co-founder and chief scientific officer Ferdinand Los mentioned in an interview with Agfundernews about the founding round.

Highly scalable nanotechnology

It’s that “delivery” element which has led HRB into exploring its latest new business case. The company has been working on nanoparticles that allow it to bypass plant cell walls in order to introduce CRISPR enzymes – but now it’s eyeing potential alternative uses for this teeny-tiny technology. Though nanotechnology is very expensive, HBR has found a way to make it highly scalable.

Unique delivery

“The uniqueness is in the delivery, and there are two directions we can take this in. One is that we can encapsulate existing compounds or molecules to improve bioavailability and reduce the amounts [of agrochemicals] you need to spray on fields. The other is that we enable the delivery of new types [of inputs] – for example, biological agents”,  says co-founder Ferdinand Los.

HBR takes a non-transgenic approach to CRISPR. They do not add any DNA from other species into the plants it is working on. This allows the company to operate within EU regulatory guidelines with regards to genetically modified organisms, explains Ferdinand in an interview with Agfundernews.

Founder Story: Hudson River Biotechnology


Founder Story Hudson River Biotechnology | CRISPR-Cas9 to boost natural ingredients


Time-travelling Milkman Receives €550K Investment For Plant-based Dairy Fat

Time-travelling Milkman (TTM), a spin-off of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and StartLife alumnus, develops creamy, healthy and sustainable fat ingredients for improving the texture and acceptability of dairy alternatives. With its technology, TTM extracts fat droplets from seeds (e.g. sunflower) to make creamy unsaturated fat ingredients. With an investment of €555.000 by Oost NL and SHIFT Invest, the company will scale-up production and accelerate its market entry. 

“We use European seeds, water and our proprietary processing technology to produce ingredients that add an irresistible mouthfeel in dairy alternatives”, says Dimitris Karefyllakis, CEO and co-founder of Time-travelling Milkman (TTM). “Creaminess comes from fat, not protein. Alternative protein sources are abundant, but the importance of the fat element has been overlooked. Without this, there will be no protein transition”.

“Without fat, there will be no protein transition.” ~ Dimitris Karefyllakis

“The fat ingredient alternatives that are currently used either do not give the required consistency, creating mushy unappealing structures or, like palm and coconut oil, are unhealthy (saturated fats) and unsustainable as they come from the tropics. Inside plant seeds, fats are organized in naturally occurring fat droplets covered by proteins, called Oleosomes, which have a high potential as milk fat equivalents,” says Dimitris.

Next generation B2B fat ingredient provider

Dimitris believes that, based on TTM’s heritage as a WUR spin-off, they know how to give Oleosomes the right twist and format. Prof. Dr. Ir. Remko Boom, Food Process Engineering at WUR, says, “We have discovered that if we can keep the natural structure intact, we can make better ingredients. We can also do this without the need for traditional solvents, but simply by using water. It’s great that TTM is now able to put this into practice. I hope that this will usher in a new phase where we can move towards more sustainable production of our food.”

“We are well positioned to become a dominant B2B fat ingredient provider. Our next step is to scale up and optimize our production at an industrial scale, for which we attracted partners Oost NL and SHIFT Invest who will support us in our journey with their knowledge, network and capital,” says Dimitris.

Accelerating protein transition

Carl Heijne, senior investment manager Food at Oost NL: “The protein transition is a major challenge of our time. A more plant-based diet causes less damage to the environment and is healthier. But existing plant-based dairy alternatives still have many disadvantages. TTM has an innovative solution on its hands. Fat from seeds is much more sustainable. We are proud that as Oost NL we can help accelerate the market introduction.” Oost NL invests from the Innovation Fund ION+, an innovation fund for SMEs in Gelderland.

Bram Ledeboer, partner at SHIFT Invest: “We are proud to announce our investment in Time-travelling Milkman accelerate the protein transition today and into the future”. This funding was provided via our proof of concept fund within the Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme, which is built around a partnership with the four Dutch technical universities , TNO and RVO. The main focus of TTT is to support early-stage companies that are emerging from scientific research and development into startups with the potential to disrupt the industry.

Support by Food Valley ecosystem

TTM receives wide support from the agrifood ecoysteem in the Food valley.  In Spring 2020, TTM took part in StartLife’s acceleration program. The company is now part of StartLife’s active startup alumni portfolio. TTM also received support from The Growth Accelerator program (De Groeiversneller) and is member of the The Protein Cluster (TPC), a cluster of companies that focus on protein transition. The investment by ION+ is in line with the goals of the province of Gelderland to promote innovations in the protein transition.

Continue reading: The Time Traveling Milkman makes plant-based dairy products deliciously creamy

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.

How To Build And Recognize An All-Star Startup Team

The success of any startup depends largely on its founding team. In fact, ‘not the right team’ is often cited as one the main reasons for startup failure. No wonder that startup accelerators, investors, strategic partners and customers are very interested in the background and dynamics of the founding team. So what are the key elements to take into account when building (or examining) an all-star startup team? It is an ‘equation’ of the following five C’s.

Building a startup is not easy. And finding the right co-founders is definitely a challenge. Based on over 15 years of experience in startup support, and several years of developing and running a business dating site aimed at supporting startups in finding the right co-founder, here’s my advice to support you in building your own startup dream team.

Whether you build a startup team with friends, (former) colleagues, members of your family or someone you happen to bump into, the same basic elements come into play when building a startup together. The following five C’s form the basis for any high-performing team.

  1. Complementary
  2. Complete
  3. Compatible
  4. Cooperative
  5. Committed

Let’s briefly examine these elements one by one.

1. Complementary: be more than a collection of people

The best startup teams are made up of founders who complement each other. No real surprise there. A founding team with at least one technical specialist and a marketeer/commercial person is often considered to be a potential startup dream team. But a complementary founding team entails much more than professional skills, and product or industry knowledge. Diversity in personality traits is equally important, as is demonstrated by a growing number of studies on entrepreneurial team diversity and performance.

The added value of a complementary team constitutes the optimal use of the unique talents and traits of each individual founder. So, when building a startup team it is best to look at the complete set of competencies and characters, and how they match.

Also interesting to know. Some investors choose to solely invest in diverse founding teams with at least one female founder, though this is far from common practice.

2. Complete: all pieces of the puzzle fit together

When founders in a startup complement each other, it does not necessarily mean they have a ‘winning team’. Is the team also complete? A founding team that is complete should at least have the minimum set of competences needed to build and run the company and, of course, the products or services they provide. Sounds obvious, right? Well, next time you view a founding team, check the backgrounds of the founders and judge for yourself.

However, judging whether a startup team is complete is more easily said than done. The set of competences that a company needs differs depending on sector, product, service and stage of the business. In some cases, two founders can make up a (as good as) complete team. Other times, a larger team is needed.

But beware, a founding team can also be overcomplete. The larger the team, the greater the chance that some co-founders may not truly add (much) value. In large teams, roles are more likely to overlap, which increases the odds for conflict. Larger teams also lead to inefficiency and require more coordination. Studies show that three founders is the most optimum founding team size.

3. Compatible: one soul, one mind

Let’s assume that we are looking at a founding team that we deem complementary and complete. Are the founders also compatible? Do they share the same goals, ambitions, values and norms? These elements act as the glue that binds the founders. Whereas this all sounds very logical, you would be surprised to find how many founders simply overlook these matters when building their team, or worse, underestimate the importance of compatibility all together.

Not every startup entrepreneur wants to pursue world domination. Contributing to a sustainable food system may be the driving force of a business to one founder, whereas making it to the Quote 500 list as fast as possible may the driving force of your business partner. Are you a high or low risk taker? Will you reinvest all your profits or do you prefer paying out some dividend (to yourself)? What common factors do you look for in all your staff hires?

There is nothing wrong with some level of disagreement and possibly even some friction in the founding team. After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. But beware of founding teams that have not given any thought to these matters, or worse, avoid discussing them because it may harm the ‘relationship’ or ‘internal atmosphere’….a team break-up may just be round the corner.

4. Cooperative: teamwork makes the dream work

A cooperative mindset is a trait shared by all members in stellar startup teams. When others need help, every team member should be aware of those needs and be willing to provide support. Cooperative founders include each other when making key decisions and solving problems creatively. They also understand that having diverse opinions leads to optimal solutions and that utilizing each other’s strengths creates team synergy.

Effective collaboration is built on trust, respect and open communication. Each founder must always be allowed to speak his or her mind and feel comfortable doing so. It’s always the little things that lead to bigger problem. So, do not shy away from discussing small (personal) annoyances.

Cooperative founding teams also accept that mistakes will be made. It is also important that all team members have the ability to admit when they are wrong. To quote Patrick Lencioni: “When team members trust each other and know that everyone is capable of admitting when they’re wrong, then conflict becomes nothing more than the pursuit of truth or the best possible answer.”

Remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. Hitting a milestone is an effort that all team members have contributed to, directly or indirectly. “There is no limit to what you can get done if you don’t care who gets credit for it.”

5. Committed: in for a penny, in for a pound

Are all founders equally committed to the startup? And to each other? High-performing teams are strongly committed to shared goals, strategies and the team. You do not turn your back on your co-founders in the face of conflict or in difficult times. In startup teams, solving problems and disagreements or, if possible, helping to prevent them should be a shared goal.

In committed founding teams, all co-founders are also equally involved and perform a proportional amount of work. Friction is bound to arise when individual contributions are insufficiently balanced. This makes a team ineffective and it is most likely to lead to poorer results.

Vitamin C for your agrifood startup team

In conclusion, the higher a founding team scores on the aforementioned 5 C’s, the better. At StartLife, we consider them to be the vitamin C for agrifoodtech startups. Startup teams with the right amount and mix of vitamin Cs will have all the energy and resilience they need to successfully build, run and grow their business.

I hope that these insights will be of help in ensuring you have the right team in place and have covered all team elements that come into play.

A few more reads and tools on (startup) teams:

Are you looking for a co-founder for your agrifoodtech startup or interested in joining as partner? Let us know, we might be able to find a match for you.

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.

Future Of Food Texture Challenge: Givaudan’s Call For Startups

Givaudan, global leader in flavors and natural food ingredients and one of StartLife’s corporate partners, is committed to fast-track market access and innovation for  foodtech startups. Together with StartLife, Givaudan is calling for startups that offer solutions for sustainably feeding 10 billion people by 2050 while improving food experience for consumers. Givaudan will provide all the support a startup needs to scale up and commercialize disruptive new solutions.

Givaudan will invite up to 10 startups to follow a 10-15 weeks program to accelerate their development and grow their network with experts and stakeholders. It will form the base for a future collaboration with Givaudan. The winning startup(s) will benefit from close, intensive support by Givaudan, including the opportunity to advance development from prototype to full developed pilot and media exposure via the Givaudan social media channels

Future Of Food Texture Challenge Program

The experience for the startups will be as follows:

  • Stage One – Pitch

5-10 pre-selected startups will participate in an online pitch and networking event where they will expose and connect their innovation for 20 minutes to key representatives of Givaudan. Then, the top 1-3 startups will be selected to work closely with selected Givaudan representatives to plan a pilot program that will take place at ZIC or other innovation centers around the world.

  • Stage Two – Pilot Program

The top startups will work in a well-defined pilot of 12 weeks (+/- full length, with in-person/remote) with Givaudan experts to create a prototype (demonstrator, minimum viable product) showing commercial potential. Each startup will:

  • Be part of a team composed of the startup and Givaudan’s technical and business experts and mentors.
  • Have access to the Givaudan ZIC or other innovation centers, industrial equipment, lab and pilot work.
  • Lead the co-development of a prototype and optimize it for a live demo.
  • Stage Three – Demo Day

Each team will present their prototype and a roadmap proposal towards potential commercialization. The audience will be composed of members of the category executives of Givaudan, key stakeholders, some key thought and corporate leaders from its business network, and investors from their innovation network.

Each startup will:

  • Have the option of having a booth at the ZIC to talk more about their innovation with the selective audience.
  • Be exposed and connected to a jury of experts.
  • Co-promote a joint solution to Givaudan’s customer network.

The program will take place at Givaudan’s innovation centers in Switzerland, Netherlands, France, the US and in other locations, with a mixture of online and face-to-face meetings. Travel and accommodation can be discussed to facilitate attendance to live sessions.

Eligibility Criteria

Givaudan is looking for foodtech startups with the following profile:

  • Activity: Focus on technologies and solutions for unique food texture for food consumers around the globe:
    • Methylcellulose replacement in meat analogues
    • Gum replacement (particularly gellan gum) in beverages
    • Modified starch replacement in soups and sauces

The company is also looking for wider ideas to collaborate with which provide natural, clean label and competitive solutions that deliver amazing texture and emulsification.

  • Stage: Typically post-seed and pre-series A. It is important that the startup already has some traction.
  • Other attributes:
    • Impactful: to massively benefit consumers and the environment.
    • Viable: easily adopted by consumers, governments and/or businesses; scalable to mainstream consumers, and; replicable around the world.
    • Innovative: disruptive, preferably solid IP and ‘new to the world’ idea

For more information and support, contact StartLife’s foodtech specialist and liaison to Givaudan, Carla van Heck.

Call For Startups That Accelerate Sustainable Innovations In Horticulture

Is your startup working on a game-changing technology that will accelerate circular agriculture, climate-neutral horticulture, improve the health & safety of food or sustainable water consumption in horticulture? Then you are an ideal candidate for the Topsector T&U Innovation Prize! The deadline for registration is Sunday, 15 August 2021. The winning team will receive a prize package which includes a wildcard to StartLife’s accelerator program.

On behalf of the Topsector Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen (T&U), the stakeholder organization for the Dutch Horticulture and Propagation Materials Top Sector, StartLife invites startups with ground-breaking innovations that are of interest to horticulture, to compete for the Topsector T&U Innovation Prize. The innovation prize is intended for startups that integrate innovative technologies into a product or service while simultaneously contributing to sustainability and/or circularity in horticulture.

Technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotization, Hydrogen technology and ICT, are considered to play an important role in finding solutions for challenges relating to climate, health, production, cultivation and mobility. Ground-breaking innovations that are of interest to horticulture could have their origins in other sectors. Therefore, Topsector T&U also particularly calls tech startups from outside the horticulture sector to enter the competition.


The winning team receives a voucher worth €25,000 for the further development of their solution or concept and/or the resolution of bottlenecks in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research. In addition, the winner will receive personal support from a T&U innovation broker (20 hours, worth €2,500). And, as mentioned before, StartLife provides the winning team a wildcard for its accelerator program for agrifoodtech startups.

In addition to the Jury Prize, an Audience Prize of €1,500 plus a 6-month HortiTech Startup Membership with access to the network, knowledge and facilities of World Horti Center and the HortiHeroes innovation platform will also be awarded. Both winners will receive €1,500 worth of media exposure via KAS Magazine.

Selected participants can also make use of project support provided by students of Wageningen University & Research (Academic Consultancy Training program) or will be given the opportunity to attend the Market Readiness training course provided by WorldStartup.


The deadline for registration is Sunday, 15 August 2021 at 5 PM via the registration form on An expert jury of entrepreneurs and researchers will assess the entries and select ten finalists who will be invited to pitch their ideas before the jury.

Awards ceremony

The Innovation Prize will be conferred at the National Horticultural Congress on Thursday, 7 October 2021 in Bomencentrum Nederland in Baarn, the Netherlands. Three finalists will be pitching their innovation before an expert jury. An interactive workshop will be organized by World Startup, in which the various innovative startups and entrepreneurs will be paired with one another.

About IMPACT2025

Topsector T&U is organizing a series of activities as part of the IMPACT 2025 program to gather ideas and involve new parties in order to translate both new and established research into concrete applications in practice.

Please visit for more information about the Topsector T&U Innovation Prize. Information can also be obtained from Michiel Roelse, Director of Operations of TKI T&U, at or on +31 6 51407623.

Anterra Capital Announces Initial Closing of Second Agrifoodtech Fund at $175M

Anterra Capital , the international agrifood VC firm and investor partner of StartLife, announced the initial closing of its second food and agriculture technology fund, Anterra F&A Ventures II. With $175 million they exceeded the targeted size of the fund. Due to the positive market reception for the fund’s mission and strategy, Anterra is tracking towards an upsized second fund, and anticipates a final closing in the third quarter of this year.

Anterra’s mission is to invest in and partner with entrepreneurs transforming our vital food economy through biotech and digital innovation across crop science, animal health, and human nutrition. As a research driven, value-focused specialist investor Anterra combines a traditional venture investment approach and “venture creation,” building and scaling transformative businesses with its deep industry knowledge and vast global network as a pioneer in the space.

Spotlight on innovators

“New solutions are desperately needed in order to support better outcomes for farmers, consumers and the environment” ~ Adam Anders

Adam Anders, managing partner of Anterra Capital says: “The COVID pandemic has placed a magnifying glass on the critical condition of our food economy, from supply chain and environmental disruptions to structural changes in how we buy and consume food. It has also put the spotlight on the thriving ecosystem of digital and biotech innovators who are dedicated to making our food and agriculture system safer, more secure and more sustainable. With the first close of our second fund, we continue our mission to sustainably transform our food economy.”

Fund partners

The new fund receives continuous supported by original backers Eight Roads (backed by Fidelity Investments) and Rabo Investments, the captive investment arm of the largest global food and agricultural bank out of the Netherlands – Rabobank (another StartLife partner).

New investors include Novo Holdings, a leading global life sciences investor based out of Denmark, Tattarang, one of Australia’s largest private investment groups. as well as other well-respected family offices, sovereign wealth funds, and state-owned investors that provide a global presence, spanning across multiple continents.

StartLife Links Agrifirm To Innovative Agrifoodtech Startups

Today, at the biannual graduation day of StartLife, it was announced that the agrifoodtech startup accelerator teams up with Royal Agrifirm Group. The Wageningen University & Research (WUR) affiliated startup accelerator will support Agrifirm to engage with its European startup ecosystem. The strategic and corporate partnership aims to further expand their networks and innovative solutions for a responsible and sustainable food chain for next generations.

“As Agrifirm, we have a longstanding intensive collaboration with WUR. In many domains of our R&D portfolio, the WUR centers of excellence are key in our progress. But also in  our Research Farm Laverdonk in Heeswijk-Dinther, we team up with WUR,” says Johan DeSchepper, CIO at Royal Agrifirm Group.

“Together with StartLife, we will explore collaboration opportunities with innovative startups that can accelerate Agrifirm’s sustainable developments.” ~ Johan DeSchepper

“Participating actively in the StartLife startup community is a logical and valuable next step in our relationship. Together with StartLife, and purpose driven, we will explore collaboration opportunities with innovative startups within the agrofood business that can accelerate our sustainable developments, such as biotechnology powered new applications in farms and fields. By combining the years of expertise of StartLife, its large ecosystem and our networks, we look forward in achieving high impact solutions.”

Test, enhance and scale

To StartLife, Agrifirm is a valuable addition to its pool of strategic partnerships with industry leaders. “Their strong presence and specific know-how in the arable and livestock feed and their worldwide network offers startups great opportunities to test, enhance and scale their solutions,” says Caroline Bijkerk, Corporate Partnerships Manager of StartLife.

“Agrifirm’s specific know-how in the arable and livestock feed and its worldwide network offers startups great opportunities to test, enhance and scale their solutions,” Caroline Bijkerk

“And, being a cooperative that combines the strength of thousands of farmers and growers, Agrifirm understands the synergy of collaboration like no other. We are confident that they will embrace the innovative solutions that European food & agri startups have to offer to its members. After all, we are all better together.”

About Royal Agrifirm Group

With more than 3.000 dedicated employees driven to excel every day, Royal Agrifirm Group contributes to a responsible food chain for future generations. The cooperative delivers measurable, relevant and sustainable value to farm, field and industry level. Founded over 120 years ago in the Netherlands, Royal Agrifirm Group is now a leading agricultural cooperative with an international network of subsidiaries within Europe, South America, USA and Asia and a worldwide distribution network.

Royal Agrifirm Group strives to be the preferred knowledge and solution-driven partner for its customers in animal nutrition, crop cultivation and animal, plant and soil health.

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.

Discover Why These Agrifoodtech Startups Will Change The Future Of Food

On June 24th, major players in the agrifood industry are directing their eyes on seven early phase startups that will showcase their novel agrifood technologies on the closing of StartLife’s acceleration program. The startups serve the food value chain with technologies and solutions that help create a more sustainable food system, from the smallest cells to the smartest sensors.

Based on 10 years of experience, the Dutch agrifoodtech accelerator StartLife handpicked seven most promising European startups with novel technologies that will shape the future of food. The startups received three months of intensive business development support, high-level mentoring and gained deep expert and commercial insights from StartLife’s partners, including Wageningen University & Research, the world’s leading agrifood university.

The startups are now investor-ready and prepared to partner with major corporate players. With the presentation of their solutions to a global audience of investors, corporates, and potential customers, the startups will bring StartLife’s sixth acceleration program to a close.

Impact-driven agrifood startups

With sustainability being part of the new zeitgeist, investors and companies in the domain of food and agriculture are particularly interested in impact-driven solutions.  Loet Rammelsberg, StartLife’s program director, says: “In our support programs we work with startups that have a very strong intellectual property and an ambitious team. While this is the foundation for scalability and impact, the “why” is ever so important. We have asked the founders to look into the future and elaborate on the impact their startup will make in a couple of years.” 

Meet the startups

These are StartLife’s seven graduating agrifoodtech startups that are embarking on a journey to make their sustainable mark on our planet:

  • CellulaREvolution (UK) – Continuous cell-culturing technologies
  • Enzymit (Israel) – Designing novel enzymes with computational algorithms
  • Cano-ela (NL) – Plant-based ingredients less refined and more functional
  • Sera Intelligence (Switzerland) – AI-driven horticultural consultant in your pocket
  • Metabolic Insights (Israel) – Novel biopesticides based on botanical molecules
  • Blomitec (NL) – Using the plant microbiome to improve plant performance
  • Helia Biomonitoring (NL) – Sensors for real-time biomolecular monitoring

Those who are interested to learn more about these new technologies and solutions may join StartLife’s Spring 2021 graduation day (‘Demo-Day’), which will take place online on Thursday, 24 June, from 3 PM  – 4.15PM (CEST). To attend, and get a glimpse of the future in food and agriculture, sign up here.


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.


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 7 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 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 and back to the Netherlands via Switzerland for an introductory round to seven 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
  • 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 acceleration 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.

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’s 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 After movie

“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


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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.