All posts by Bram van Beek

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.

REGISTER FOR STARTLIFE’s 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 4 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 (CEST), and will, of course, include short pitches by the nine startups of StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 and a virtual network opportunity with all participants. We have also invited some other special speakers. Furthermore we look forward to unveiling of our brand new logo to you and our plans for the next 10 years! 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 of this immense mission has 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 of 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 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, dedicated to projects that focus on environment and with a strong focus on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. Next 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 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 up it 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.”

Impact

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

Virtual_deal_closing_Virtoteq_HorizonFlevoland

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.

Investors

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, Teachleap.nl, Oost NL and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

 

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

 

Russian Grain Improvers Spinning Out To Wageningen

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

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

Fact-finding mission lead to settlement

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

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

About Grain Improvers

 

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

Bioventure Sundew Raises €1.4M In Seed Financing

White Spot Disease - Ich_by James_Pickett
Photo by James Pickett

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

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

Huge unmet need for aquaculture

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

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

Well ‘spotted’ business

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

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

Building a company of lasting value

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

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

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

 

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

 

StartLife Selects 9 European Startups That Help Reshape The Food Industry

StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 Banner

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

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

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

Deep dives

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

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

‘Zooming’ into Europe

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

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

10 years anniversary ahead

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

 

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – September 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

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

Orbisk launches international Eurostars consortium

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

Read the full announcement.


FrieslandCampina Director becomes Managing Director at PEF Technologies

Yulia Mitko - Meeuwes Buiten - PEF Technologies

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

Go to the full press release.


Odd.bot delivers proof-of-concept for Weed Whacker robot

OddBot Proof of Concept

This summer Odd.bot 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?

Ernst:
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.

Nikolas:

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-HLO-partnership-2020

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 (Suzana.garcia@catalyze-group.com) or Fosca Poltronieri (fosca.poltronieri@catalyze-group.com) for more information. Phone: +31 (6) 2433 6444.

 

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

What Lidl And Food Startups Learned From Second Future Goods Week

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

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

Lessons learned

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

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

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

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

Lidl: We want more!

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

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

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

NutriLeads Attracts €6.5M Series B Funding

Nutrileads
Source: Oost NL

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

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

Entering new phase

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

Unlocking potential

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

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

 

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

Vacancy: Office Manager Startlife

StartLife Office Manager

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

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

Your responsibilities include:

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

We ask

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

We offer

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

About StartLife

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

Interested?

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

More information about this position? Please give Laura Thissen a call on 06 2241 0815 or drop her a line at laura.thissen@start-life.nl

The Netherlands in Top 3 Best Startup Ecosystems in Europe

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

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

Impressive AgTech, Food & Life Sciences performance

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

Ecosystem Challenges

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

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

 

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

Highlights Graduation Day of StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020

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

Video Compilation

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

The full 1,5 hour webinar

View the full 1,5 hour webinar.

Presentation slides

Download the presentation slides of the webinar.

Program Booklet

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

StartLife Accelerate Spring 2020 Graduation Day Booklet_Frontpage

See you again!

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

About StartLife Accelerate Program

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

 

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – July 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

Ellipsis closes deal with the city of Rotterdam

Zonnepanelen op dak

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


StartLife Grants 350,000 euro Next Stage Funding

StartLife StartLife Pre-seed Fund

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


Collecting 330,000 euro for Take Off

NWO-Take-Off

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

View full list of funded Take Off projects


Premal obtains 150,000 euro from Rabobank Innovation Fund

Premal

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


Wanted: CTO with master in chemical engineering

NXT Cotton

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

Download the full vacancy text (pdf) here.

 

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

Lidl Provides Shelf Space To StartLife Startups During Future Goods Week

Little-Hoppers-krekelsaucijzenbrood

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

Sharing knowledge

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

From 100 to 1000s consumers

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

Lidl’s Future Goods Selection

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

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

 

 

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

Limagrain Explores Partnership Opportunities At Wageningen Campus

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

Devoted to innovation

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

Wings

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

Virtual Graduation Day of StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort

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

VIEW THE GRADUATION DAY ON DEMAND

About the startups

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

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

Innovative Graduation Day

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

Program

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

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

Register

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

Event highlights

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

StartLife Alumni Updates – May 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

3 million euros for Cerescon’s asparagus harvesting robot

StartLife alumnus since 2015 

Cerescon's asparagus harvesting robot: Sparter

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

Read the full press release.


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

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Serket - Livestock Management Software

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


Sponsh Finalist In Europe’s Best Social Entrepreneurs Tournament

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Sponsh - Water from Air

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

 

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

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

Rabobank-StartLife Extend Partnership May 2020

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

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

First European platform for startups and investors

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

Agrifood startup nursery

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

Added value to startups

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

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

 

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

Royal Cosun Opens Doors For Innovative Agtech Startups With StartLife

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

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

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

Sharing R&D facilities and coaching

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

Making a difference together

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

About Royal Cosun

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

 

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – April 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members

NGS Secures Convertible Loan Of 250k euro From LIOF

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

NGS plus 500 euro biljetten

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


Epinutra Collects 150k euro Subordinated Loan From Rabobank

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

Epinutra plus euro biljetten

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


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

StartLife StartLife Pre-seed Fund

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


GreenFood: breakthrough fractionation technology for quinoa

StartLife community member since 2014

Greenfood50 quinoa
(c) GreenFood50

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

Read the full press release.

 

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

 

Klasmann-Deilmann Extends Corporate Partnership with StartLife

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

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

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

Innovation community

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

Finding horticultural talents

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

Stirred, not shaken

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

 

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

 

StartLife Becomes Partner Of EIT Food

Logos of Partners EIT Food and StartLife

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

Building bridges

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

Shared agenda

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

About EIT FOOD

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

Logo EIT FOOD with EU flag

 

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

 

Wageningen University & Research Joins International Foodshot Global Network

Foodshot Global

Wageningen University & Research joined Foodshot Global, an international capital investment network of funding bodies, banks, businesses and knowledge institutions that provides credit to startups and other new businesses in the field of innovative food systems. Foodshot Global also organizes competitions whereby it hands out cash prizes to nominated individuals with a proven track record.

Researchers and startups that operate under the flag of Wageningen University & Research can benefit much from the Foodshot Global network. It offers them an opportunity to obtain funding for innovative concepts or to establish a new company. In the coming year, for example, $10 million has been made available for startups involved in innovative food systems.

Ecosystem approach

Foodshot Global functions as an ecosystem of world-class venture capital funds, banks, companies and knowledge institutions. Together they are looking for answers and solutions to achieve a sustainable food system that is healthier, more resilient and fairer than the current system. The organization focuses on scientifically proven and scalable concepts with a potentially major global impact and supports the selected projects with cash and access to its network to facilitate further development and practical application of the concept.

Foodshot Global is an important strategic opportunity for Wageningen University & Research to bridge the gaps between science, valorization, startups and early funding opportunities for scale-ups. Current and future research projects at the University can also greatly benefit from access to the knowledge generated by the ecosystem. Wageningen University & Research is Foodshot Global’s leading knowledge partner in Europe, with much the same role as co-founder UC Davis has for the network in the US.

Foodshot Global Competitions

Researchers who have been nominated by their institution can participate in annual competitions known as Foodshot Challenges. The theme of the latest edition is ‘Precision Protein’, for which outstanding individual researchers in this field can receive a GroundBreaker Prize of up to $500,000. More information about the competition is available at www.foodshot.org.

In 2019, Wageningen soil biologist Gerlinde de Deyn won the first edition of the GroundBreaker Prize.

 

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 Presents ‘Eight Next Heroes In Food- & AgTech 2020’

F&A Next 'Next Heroes in Food- and Agtech 2020'

For the fifth year in a row StartLife is one of the leading organizers of the international agrifood event F&A Next.  Together with Foodbytes! by Rabobank eight most promising startups have been selected as this years’ ‘Next Heroes in Food- & AgTech’. On May 13, they will pitch their innovations during a (free) live webinar of F&A Next to an international audience of agrifood investors, corporates, media and fellow entrepreneurs.

The eight startups were selected from a record number of applications. The applications came from 29 countries, from Sweden to Australia and from Hong Kong to the United States. Most solutions were in machine learning (28%), artificial intelligence (25%) and digital platforms (23%).

Next Heroes in FoodTech 2020

The following four startups have been selected as the F&A Next ‘Next Heroes in FoodTech 2020’. Join the live webinar to view their pitches.

 |  FUMI Ingredients (The Netherlands) : Develops functional food ingredients from microorganisms. The novel animal-free ingredients work as egg replacers and have no allergens. The production process allows a carbon footprint reduction of over 90% compared to conventional egg-white production.
 |  Connecting Food (France) : Tracks and digitally audits food products in real-time from farm to fork. The blockchain solution maps food supply chains and improve internal traceability. They also help brands and retailers improve their external transparency via a QR code & storytelling.
 |  COGZ (UK) : Offers a B2B online marketplace for food & beverage manufacturers and processors to buy surplus produce directly from farmers and growers. COGZ’s technology saves time, increases profitability and prevents food waste in primary production.
 |  Verdify (The Netherlands) : Enables companies active in the food domain to personalize their recipes for individual customers, supporting prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Their digital platform fully personalizes meal recipes according to guideline-based medical diets, biomarkers and individual preferences.

Next Heroes in AgTech 2020

The following four startups have been selected as the F&A Next ‘Next Heroes in AgTech 2020’. Join the live webinar to view their pitches.

 |  Evologic Technologies (Austria) : Produces microbial bioactives (biostimulants and biopesticides) for seed distributors, thanks to its proprietary production platform technology. This allows distributors sell an upgraded product to farmers.
 |  Pebble Labs (USA) : Develops solutions to safely and sustainably increase natural crop yield and food security. Its mission is to develop breakthrough disruptive technologies that address the greatest agricultural, aquaculture, and environmental challenges facing the globe.
 |  FarmRaise (USA) : Unlocks public and private funding for farmers through cataloguing each grower’s unique options and simplifying the funding application process. FarmRaise makes it easy for farmers to invest in their operations today and steward their assets for future generations.
 |  Edete (Israel) : Offers a high-efficiency artificial pollination service solution for companies and growers. By reducing the deficiencies of erratic and dwindling insect-based pollination, Edete’s controlled and manageable solution has been proven to increase the yield of almond orchards.

Impact of the Coronavirus on the agrifood industry

F&A Next normally is a 2-day in-person event taking place in Wageningen (NL). Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the event is going digital, offering a live webinar on May 13th for free. For obvious reasons the impact of the Coronavirus on the agrifood industry has become a main theme. Top executives and opinion leaders discuss the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on business and consumer behavior. A panel of global investors will openly discuss if and how the current crisis affects investment decisions. And the above eight startups will pitch their innovations.

Join F&A Next Live Webinar for free

Registration is open to agrifood investors, corporates, media and fellow startups. Check the full webinar program here.

RESERVE YOUR FRONT ROW SEAT FOR F&A NEXT LIVE WEBINAR

 

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.

100 Million Euro Bridge Financing for Dutch Startups

Emergency fund piggy euro coins

The Dutch government has mobilized a first 100 million euro to grant soft-loans to startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs in the Netherlands that suffer deeply from the Corona crisis. Companies can apply for a bridging loan up to two million euros. can The loans will be provided via regional development companies in The Netherlands. The scheme is expected to be opened for applications from April 24th.

Emergency fund for acute financial aid

The bridging loans are specifically “intended as an emergency instrument to ensure a temporary bridging to “break-even” or a “follow-up financing round”. The exact criteria, interest rate, term of the loans and the application procedure will become available soon. The following criteria are already known.

The company

  • is registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce
  • is in acute financial distress
  • needs between 50,000 up to 2.000.000 euro to survive
  • has no access to other additional financial means

Broader support package

The 100 million euro is part of a broader package aimed at supporting non-bank financed companies. Other parts of the package include opening a of a corona module BMKB to non-bank financiers and granting bridging loans of up to 250,000 euros by Qredits to companies that cannot go to the bank.

The support package is the result of close cooperation between from various organizations that support startups and scale-ups, among which Regional Development Companies (a.o. OostNL), InvestNL, VC and StartLife.

Corona startup support portal

Yesterday TechLeap launched the Corona Startup Support Portal. The portal provides an overview of all Dutch resources and initiatives that are offered from the startup ecosystem, including:

  • Startup Guide: overview of important sources of information
  • Expert Sessions: tailored services from consultancy agencies, investors and experienced entrepreneurs
  • Online events
  • International support hours: access to local experts in different places around the world.
  • COVID-19 VC index: overview of Dutch VC that are open for investments
  • Offers & support services: offers from corporates to startups, free of charge or at greatly reduced tariffs

Dutch Largest Impact Investment Fund for Early Startups Is Launched

In March StartLife partner Shift Invest launched their third fund for impactful early-stage startups: SHIFT III. It is expected that the fund will manage EUR 65 million by the end of the year, which makes it the largest impact investment fund in the Netherlands. Wageningen & University & Research and Rabobank, two other StartLife partners, are also involved in the fund.

The companies that SHIFT III will invest in combine commercial potential with impact. A selection of the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) which concern the environment are leading. Entrepreneurs who know how to combine commercial goals with environmental objectives can count on the fund for support. Like, FUMI Ingredients, one of the StartLife startups, who received half a million euro from the SHIFT II fund earlier this year.

Impact investment fund for early stage startups and scale-ups

Shift III is a so-called multistage fund. Innovative starters can go to this fund from idea to scale-up. This distinguishes SHIFT III from other impact investment funds. Moreover, it focuses on “tough tech”. “We cannot only solve environmental problems with platforms and artificial intelligence. We also need physical equipment and installations that make the products of the future in new, clean ways,” said Florentine Fockema Andreae, partner at SHIFT. “SHIFT III, with its fund size, is able to provide financial support to these often capital intensive companies throughout their path to success.”

Close cooperation with technical universities, TNO and RVO 

In the Netherlands, there is mainly money available for scaling up proven technology, from the moment that a company has a turnover of around 1 million euros. There is virtually no support for the earlier phase involving more technical risk. SHIFT III is there for that gap, in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Twente, TNO and the Government Information Service for Entrepreneurs (RVO).

“This fund helps us make more impact because we can now develop faster and more scalable spinoffs. This is because SHIFT III not only finances but also provides the right support when it is needed. For example, by supplying the right people, partners and co-financing so that the potential of a spinoff is actually realized ”, says Sebastiaan Berendse, director of Value Creation at WUR. RVO also endorses this and has granted a Seed Capital loan to SHIFT III.

Smart money

SHIFT III is mainly for long-term investments and therefore has a broad investor base. In addition to provinces, Rabobank and family offices, entrepreneurs who have received an investment from one of the predecessors of SHIFT III also invest. In addition to money, they also bring their network and knowledge of successful startups to the impact investment fund. “Those elements are critical to the difficult phase these companies are in, from a promising startup to an impact scale-up,” said Tarique Arsiwalla, founder of Protix and now an investor and venture partner of SHIFT III.

Francis Quint, global head of Rabo Corporate Investments, cornerstone investor in the SHIFT III Fund: “Financial back-up is essential for successful innovative impactful ideas in the field of Green and Agtech and circularity to succeed. Just think of Protix and Vandebron, who, partly thanks to the predecessors of this SHIFT fund, grew as a company and were able to further develop their sustainable and circular innovations. Rabobank therefore also supports this new fund to stimulate green innovations and entrepreneurship. ”

Successful investments

SHIFT Invest has ten years of experience with impact investments. This has contributed to the success of Vandebron, Protix, Chaincraft and Meatless, among others. For example, Chaincraft converts organic waste into fatty acids that can replace agricultural and chemical products based on petroleum and palm oil. Protix produces high-quality proteins and fats from insects that are used in livestock and fish feed. All of them have a positive effect on the environment and that is exactly the fund’s objective. Shares in Vandebron and Protix have been sold to parties that, in terms of investment space, are better suited to the next growth phases of these companies.

Reliable address for early phase financing

With SHIFT III, impactful entrepreneurs will know where to turn for a reliable, professional investor with a strong track record in the next five years. “Together we help to bring their impactful technology to the market,” said Remco Wilcke, founder of Vandebron and co-investor of the impact investment fund.

9 New Agrifood Startups Prepare To Tackle Global Challenges

Logo-sheet StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort

The agrifood industry is actively searching for sustainable food alternatives, like plant-based dairy, land-based salmon and, oh yes, bugs! The industry is also concerned with a more sustainable use of resources, striving to minimize water usage and crop spoilage and optimizing the circularity of materials. How can corporates ensure trust, quality and fair ownership in their agrifood supply chains? And how can we keep our waters safe from blue algae? Nine early-stage startups that tackle these global challenges are selected for the StartLife Spring 2020 cohort.

Meet the StartLife Spring 2020 cohort

We take great pleasure in introducing to you the StartLife Spring 2020 cohort:

  • CELINE – automated water & nutrient management for high tech indoor farms
  • CIED – providing transparency in agro supply chain with blockchain
  • Insectocycle – turn-key black soldier fly breeding
  • Mythronics – AI-based quality inspection and monitoring for vegetables and fruits
  • NaturalPond – sustainable treatment of blue-green algae bloom
  • NXT Cotton Solutions – turning used jeans into clean cotton fibres
  • PAR+ (Physee) – optimizing light transmission inside greenhouses with high tech coating
  • Time-Travelling Milkman – plant-based ‘dairy’ using oleosomes
  • Van Holland Zalm – land-based salmon production

From April to June we will help these companies to validate their customer segments and business model and prepare them for fundraising. They will receive intensive training and individual coaching and shall be introduced to various corporates and program partners. On June 24th we will conclude the 12-week acceleration program with the graduation day.

Record number of applicants

“We were thrilled to see a record number of applicants for our acceleration program.”, says Joar Nilssen, scout of StartLife. “The overall quality of the applications has improved as well, making it even more of a challenge to reduce the list to just 15 startups for the Selection Day.” On March 3rd the StartLife team interviewed the nominees in person to assess which teams are best suited to join the upcoming program. We assessed the startups on three main elements: Market & Customers, Product & Technology, and Team.

Assessing startups, in particular in early-stage, is quite challenging, given the limited visibility of information and the venture’s potential impact. Joar: “As a scout who pre-selects the startups, it is always exciting to see how the startups perform during the interviews and how they are assessed by our team members. We are confident about our final selection though and look forward to helping them to excel.”

Photo of Selection Committee of StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort
Photo of Selection Committee of StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort

StartLife Alumni Updates: March 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members

1) EzCOL B.V. takes major steps forward with cholesterol reduction technology

StartLife alumni / community member
Cholesterol

EzCOL, a spin-off from the European Space Agency research program ‘MELiSSA’, has been working on the development of innovative highly effective cholesterol lowering technology. The technology has shown LDL reductions of up to 90% without adverse effects and could be a game-changer in a highly competitive market. They successfully completed a first-in-man phase I/IIa clinical trial and received approval from the METC to perform a second clinical trial. The company also completed a financing round recently. The funding enables EzCol to expand its team and complete ongoing research activities to further broaden its IP position.

2) Mylium opens laboratory on Agro Business Parc

StartLife community member
Mylium Team and Leather Wallet

To enhance and speed up their product development Mylium has just opened a small dedicated laboratory on Agro Business Parc in Wageningen. Mylium is an early-stage startup that uses the roots of mushrooms, known as mycelium, to create leather-like sheets that can be used in the fashion industry. Mycelium leather is vegan, free of chromium, lightweight and produced in a convenient shape. The co-founders Iris Houthoff, lecturer bioprocess technology at WUR, and Eric van de Zilver, fermentation & upscaling expert, believe that mycelium technology will play an important role in the transition to a circular and biobased economy. The founders expect that with all necessary facilities installed, they are able to produce a first bag prototype by the end of this year.

3) Finalists AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant (AIEG)

Finalists of AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Award AIEG 2020

StartLife Alumni Rival Foods, Greencovery and Mylium are three of the five finalists for the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant (AIEG). The other nominees are Vegger and Scope Biosciences. The grant supports student-entrepreneurs with impactful ideas. Two grants are awarded yearly: the Impact Award (€15.000) for ideas with maximum sustainable impact, and the StartUp Award (€35.000) for commercially promising ideas for global challenges. On May 13th the nominees will contend in the finals.

 

Catalyze and StartLife Partner Up to Maximize Funding for Agrifood Startups

Neeltje Ramnaths of Catalyze and Jan Meiling of StartLife shake hands after signing strategic partnership

What if funding wasn’t a barrier to innovation? With this question in mind funding consultancy firm Catalyze and agrifood accelerator StartLife today announced they have entered into a strategic partnership. The partnership aims to help innovative agrifood startups establishing an optimal long-term non-dilutive funding strategy. By joining forces they expect to better enable game changing startups to realize their full potential.

Many potentially game changing innovations don’t reach their full potential as a result of lacking funds. Program director Loet Rammelsberg said: “It’s such a shame seeing high potential startups fail because they are short of funding. In Europe it is particularly difficult to attract early stage venture capital for startups with a high-risk profile. As a result, they are mostly reliant on non-dilutive funding. We truly believe that together with Catalyze we are better equipped helping agri-food startups succeed and also help prevent founders having sleepless nights over funding issues.”

The right mix

Neeltje Ramnath, manager Agri, Food and Bio-economy of Catalyze, feels the same way. “It is exciting to know that there are billions of Euro’s available for innovative companies. We fully understand the challenge in finding the right grants and being successful in applying.” Next to successfully winning subsidies and taking away the associated administrative burdens Catalyze helps companies secure their financing needs by establishing an optimal mix of financial instruments. This includes bank loans and venture capital but also fiscal arrangements.

Neeltje provides an interesting example of how founders of an early stage company can shoot themselves in the foot by paying themselves little or no wages. “Although we fully understand the rationale behind this, a subsidy can actually enable raising the founders’ wages with little impact on the startup’s finances.”

Moving mountains

StartLife is the first startup accelerator that Catalyze officially partners up with. Neeltje explains: “We found out that several startups that we already supported, were part of StartLife. They all spoke very enthusiastic about the StartLife Accelerate program, which lead us to get into contact with them.”

Loet quickly came to appreciate the in depth knowledge of the agrifood business of Catalyze as well as their entrepreneurial spirit. “They share our common purpose and drive to help startups succeed. Once committed they really go for it. I am convinced we can move mountains together and look forward doing so.”

FUMI Ingredients Receives Investment of Half a Million Euro for Natural Egg White Replacers

Producers of meat alternatives all over the world have long been seeking for a break-through solution that allows them to exchange egg whites for a plant-based substitute, making their products 100% vegan. FUMI Ingredients, a Wageningen University & Research spin-off, has found an alternative that is natural and at the same time more cost effective than regular egg whites. Innovation Industries and SHIFT Invest are the first to invest €500,000, which enables the company to produce their vegan proteins on a larger scale.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of their diets and the environmental impact of the foods they consume, the market for vegetarian and vegan foods is growing rapidly. A major challenge for food producers is to find an alternative for using egg whites, an animal-based ingredient, to bind ‘meat’ together. It is the final hurdle to turn plant-based meat alternatives into 100% vegan products. FUMI Ingredients may have struck gold by finding a solution that they claim is the most sustainable and economical way to produce vegan protein to date. Not surprisingly some of the world’s largest food producers have already shown their interest to the company.

Natural egg white replacers at lower costs

During his PhD study at the Bioprocess Engineering group of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), co-founder Edgar Suarez Garcia developed a process for an egg white replacer made from natural micro-organisms. After obtaining his doctorate Edgar also managed to design a proprietary and scalable production process that can beat regular egg white prices at industrial scale. A natural egg white replacer at lower production costs make the solution a double win. Considering that egg whites have a global market size of $30 billion, a cost-effective and more sustainable alternative represents a lucrative business opportunity.

Turning research into a game changing business

Both Edgar and his (former) PhD supervisor Corjan van den Berg immediately recognized the market potential and decided to investigate how to turn the research into a viable business. They founded FUMI Ingredients and with the support of WUR and startup accelerator StartLife, Edgar and Corjan further developed their company. “As academic researchers we had limited knowledge on how to set up a company. WUR and StartLife gave us all the support and resources we needed to successfully start our company and helped prepare us for raising funds.”, Corjan says.

Sebastiaan Berendse, corporate director value creation of WUR credits the Bioprocess Engineering research group and AlgaePARC led by professor Rene Wijffels for supporting FUMI Ingredients on its route towards implementation and global impact. The research group presently hosts the company at AlgaePARC where Edgar and Corjan can further develop their product.

Ready to hit the market

FUMI Ingredients will use the raised capital to realize their scale-up ambitions and to accelerate their market entry. Both SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries look forward to helping the company take the next steps in commercializing their ingredients and growing their organization, as underlined by Sander Verbrugge, Investment Director of Innovation Industries and Bram Ledeboer, partner at SHIFT Invest.

FUMI Ingredients welcomes the support of the two investors wholeheartedly. Corjan says: “The combination of SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries turned out be an excellent match. Aside from their financial support the two investing partners clearly demonstrated that they share our enthusiasm for FUMI Ingredients. We are confident about achieving sustainable growth together and make a lasting impact.

 

StartLife Alumni Updates: January 2020

Greats news about alumni and community members of StartLife.

1) PreMal Introduces New Mosquito Trap Model

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort
Premal's MTego Pot - Mosquito trap

Malaria prevention and control company PreMal has introduced a new variant of their proprietary MTego mosquito trap – The MTego Pot. The core competence and functionality is the same for both products; both traps use close-range host cues to attract human-biting mosquitoes. The major difference is that the original trap is designed to be hung and the Mtego Pot is a standing trap that can easily be placed on any floor. The new product has been developed in response to feedback from some hospitality companies, like hotels and restaurants, who were interested in a trap that is less visible and (even more) easily placed on their terraces. The MTego Pot is also slightly cheaper which makes it more attractive to budget-minded customers.

2) Zero FoodWaste Launches Finished Food Waste Monitor

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 cohort
Zero FoodWaste monitor launches finished product at Horecava 2020

Zero FoodWaste is on a roll. At the closure of 2019 they raised €250,000 revenue-based capital. Just a few weeks later they officially launched the final version of their fully automated food waste monitor at Horecava in Amsterdam. In 2019 the company ran pilot projects with a prototype monitor to measure waste streams at various catering companies like Novotol, Albron*, Vermaat and Ramada. The large number of data that were gathered from these pilot projects helped fine-tuning the artificial intelligence software that identifies the type and amount (weight) of ingredients being thrown away. The raised capital will be used to hit the market, thus another exciting year ahead for Zero FoodWaste.

*Click here to view a short video about the cooperation between Albron and Zero Foodwaste (in Dutch).

3) Greenfood50 Acquires Dutch Quinoa Group Activities From the Quinoa Company

StartLife community member since 2014

GreenFood50 has acquired the cultivation, production and sales activities of the former Dutch Quinoa Group of the Quinoa Company. The B2B sales activities include a range of basic quinoa ingredients in bulk packaging. In the Dutch food service and retail markets these products are sold under the Lola Quinoa brand. The acquisition will further strengthen GreenFood50’s position as market leader in innovative quinoa ingredients.

 

F&A Next Opens Call for Next Heroes in Food & AgTech 2020

Innovative Food- and AgTech startups from all over the world are invited to apply for showcasing themselves at the fifth edition of F&A Next on May 13-14, 2020 in Wageningen (the Netherlands). In total 16 most promising Food- & AgTech startups will be selected to pitch their innovations on stage. F&A Next attracts an international audience of about 600 startups, investors, leading corporates and media. It includes one and a half day of networking, pitching and debating the future in food and agriculture.

The key to sustainably feed future generations is innovation. The food industry is in need for change makers with breakthrough ideas and technologies. F&A Next views startups as the driving force in this desired change. But as much as startups are needed for their drive, investors are needed for their belief, corporates for their mass impact and media for their reach. F&A Next brings these parties together.

Make a true impact on the future of Food and Agriculture

For startups who want to accelerate their early stage traction and make a true impact on the future of food and agriculture, F&A Next is a powerful platform. Aside from a large number of investors, the event attracts innovation managers of leading corporations such as Unilever and Nutreco, who are actively searching for partnerships with innovative startups that bring new value to their business. Various networking opportunities are provided to facilitate one-on-one meetings with the many key stakeholders that take part in the event.

16 most promising startups

In partnership with FoodBytes! by Rabobank, 16 of the most promising startups in Food Tech and AgTech will be selected by F&A Next to present themselves on stage. The selected startups will benefit from the following perks:

  • Pitching on Stage to leading corporates, investors, media, and other stakeholders that can help you grow.
  • Rewarded with the title “Next Hero in Food & AgTech 2020” by F&A Next
  • One free entree ticket to the full F&A Next program on 13 & 14 May 2020
  • Display corner where the company’s products/solutions are shown for one day
  • Media exposure through logos shared on F&A Next website and company profiles shared with all event attendees and media.
  • The chance to be picked by the audience as the “People’s Choice” startup, being automatically selected to participate of FoodBytes! London 2020.

All startups that apply for F&A Next ‘Next Heroes in Food & AgTech’ are eligible for receiving a benchmark of their performance compared to similar businesses including parameters such as sales traction, international growth, etc. They will also receive updates from FoodBytes! on opportunities in the Food & Ag space, insights on trends, and resources to keep developing as an entrepreneur.

Startups who want to participate can apply until March 15, 2020. 

Make sure to keep up with F&A Next by joining the F&A Next newsletter and follow F&A Next on LinkedIn and Twitter, or view content via the hashtag #fanext.

 

StartLife And BDO Continue Collaboration To Support Food & Agri Startups In The Foodvalley

Rachel Dibbets of DBO and Jan Meiling signing partnership agreement

StartLife and BDO continue their collaboration to support Food & Agri startups in the Foodvalley. The goal for the coming years is to help even more startups make a positive impact.

When you start your own company, it is not only important to validate customer needs but also to have up-to-date and accurate insights into your business finances. BDO helps startups and scaleups from the StartLife community to obtain these insights. In addition, BDO provides the startups with strategic advice and brings them into contact with parties from their own network. The collaboration is greatly appreciated by all parties involved, so a follow-up was in the offing.

Gateway to partners

As one of the largest accounting and consulting organizations in the world, BDO has an enormous network, from research institutions to companies, both large and small. Due to their role and position they know very well what is going on with their clients, what they find important and where their needs lie. Rachel Dibbets, senior consultant accountant at BDO, confirms this. “We can quickly estimate what advice and guidance startups need to help them grow. In addition, we are happy to go the extra mile for our clients by, for example, putting startups in contact with other organizations that may be of interest to them and bringing them in contact with the right people. We not only find this a valuable contribution, but also enjoy doing so.

During the earlier collaboration Jan Meiling, Managing Director at StartLife, soon noticed that BDO has very close relationships with their customers, which allows them to lay very good connections. What Meiling particularly appreciates about the relationship with BDO is that they are above all very active in connecting startups to their huge network.

In the video below you can see how BDO connected food startup UmaMeats, one of the startups of StartLife, to one of the most innovative catering companies in the Netherlands, Hutten. (in Dutch)

Growing number of ambitious companies requires more intensive cooperation

Both StartLife and BDO note that more and more startups and scaleups are settling in the Foodvalley region. The ambitions are often high and the challenges are becoming increasingly complex, as evidenced by the issues that the startups present. “Of course everyone is very happy with this development,” says Rachel Dibbets. “Together with StartLife we ​​want to offer these growth companies even more support to flourish, sometimes literally but mostly figuratively.” This includes support on topics such as internationalization, legal structures and agreements, but also ad hoc advice with regard to staffing, business valuation models, taxes and strategic (growth) issues.

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – December 2019

Greats news about alumni and community members of StartLife,

1) Zero FoodWaste First to Raise Revenue-based Capital

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 cohort


Photo: Non-Dilutive Capital

Zero FoodWaste, developers of the world’s first fully automated food waste monitor, is the first startup in the Netherlands to raise funding from an investor on revenue-based terms, rather than shares. Non-Dilutive Capital invested €250,000 in return for a future share in revenues. Read the full article on Sprout (in Dutch).

2) Sundew Receives €780,000 Grant of Danish Government

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

They only just finished the accelerate program at StartLife when the Danish aqua biologicals startup Sundew was awarded a grant of €780,000 from the Danish Government. One of the reasons for Sundew to join StartLife was to prepare themselves to raise its first funding. Mission accomplished!

3) FUMI Ingredients Reaches Innovation Award Hattrick

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

FUMI Ingredients, producer-to-be of egg-white replacer made from natural micro-organisms, is gaining lots of news momentum by collecting several innovation awards. Last September they won the Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award 2019. This month they became award winner of the category ‘Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage Ingredient Award’ at the FI Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2019, as well as the overall winner of the ‘EIT Food Prize’. As 2019 is just their starting up year, co-founders Edgar Suarez and Corjan van den Berg are already looking forward to 2020.

4) Van Boven Raises €400,000 Proof-Of-Concept Funding

member of StartLife community since 2019

Van Boven has raised their first investment deal of €400,000 from regional development company Horizon. Van Boven collects crop data in the field with drones and uses smart algorithms to monitor each individual plant, head and crop in order to forecast the size of the harvest and optimum moment of harvesting. The investment is to aid in delivering proof-of-concept of their software. Read the full press release on the website of Horizon (Dutch only).

 

StartLife Presents Seven New AgriFood Challengers

Last Wednesday seven new agri-food startups successfully completed the StartLife Accelerate program. For three months they received intensive training and support to further shape, refine an accelerate their business. They ended the program with a presentation to a large group of investors and corporates, known as graduation day.

Pressure Cooker

From more than 50 startups that applied only seven were selected to take part in StartLife’s pressure cooker for high-tech agrifood startups. For Alexis Vlandas, co-founder of the French company Zymoptiq, the ‘pressure’ played an important role in the decision to apply to the program. “We don’t have such intensive startup support in France. StartLife challenged our business model in every way and we were “forced” to make important, validated choices in a short period of time. As a result, we made major progress in a very short time, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve.”

‘Farm to Fork’ network

StartLife has close connections to a wide range of companies and organizations throughout the agri-food value chain. This “farm to fork” – network also offers a lot of added value to the participating startups. Davide Parisi, CEO of the Italian startup Evja agrees. “Warm introductions to the right people and parties are worth gold. StartLife provided us valuable insights on the Dutch market and ecosystem as a whole, which allowed us to enhance our next steps in terms of product and business strategy.

Graduation Day

The acceleration program was completed with a demo day: a presentation to approximately 120 investors, bankers, business executives, innovation managers, researchers and other relations from the (inter)national StartLife network. Marijn Frank, known from the Dutch TV program “Keuringsdienst van Waarde”, hosted the presentation of the startups to the audience, who were then invited to ask question to the startups.

One of the questions that an angel investor asked Gerhold ten Voorde, founder of Corvus Drones, was whether greenhouse growers are waiting for his data-gathering drones, after all, can they just as well install camera’s? Gerhold immediately had a clear answer to this: “To monitor all plants in a one-hectare greenhouse you easily need a thousand camera’s. That is a costly affair. You achieve the same result with just one drone.” A convincing answer that was followed up with a 1-on-1 conversation during the closing drink.

Open call to next agri-food challengers

The StartLife team is already fully engaged with the preparations for the next StartLife Accelerate program, which will run from April to June 2020. Do you want to follow the footsteps of StartLife alumni such as Fumi Ingrediënts, Zero Foodwaste and Hudson River Biotechology? Then register before February 1st .

Graduation Day - StartLife Accelerate Fall 2019

P.s. If you like to learn more about all the seven startups, then download the program booklet of the graduation day in which the companies are briefly introduced.

 

Limagrain Enters into Partnership With StartLife

Team of StartLife and Limagrain toasting on the kickoff of their partnership

Yesterday Limagrain, the Fourth Largest Seed Company Worldwide, and StartLife entered into a partnership for a close collaboration in the next three years. The partnership is aimed at moving agriculture forward to meet the huge food challenges that our world faces. Limagrain will benefit from early access to innovative projects from qualified startups, dealing with all the value chain regarding agriculture, emerging technologies, new processes and new food products fitting with strategic needs.

Fulfilling global food needs

The partnership between Limagrain and StartLife will help face the challenge to feed close to 10 billion people by 2050. “In order to fill our global food needs we must increase our agricultural production by more than 70%, whilst taking climate changes into account and preserving our invaluable natural resources at the same time. This partnership will aid in developing and improving agriculture practices, for everybody and everywhere and in accelerating innovative and responsible agri-food solutions”, says Valérie Mazza, head of Scientific Affairs and Innovation of Limagrain.

Innovation and scouting partner

StartLife will be Limagrain’s innovation and scouting partner. We will support Limagrain to further expand their innovation ecosystem by acting as a connector and early startup innovation enabler with agri-entrepreneurs. Valérie Mazza: “We chose StartLife as our partner because they are the leading food and agritech startup accelerator in Europe and have a great track record as intermediary between corporates and startups.

Opening doors for startups

Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife, is also very excited to welcome Limagrain as new partner. “Entrepreneurs who enter into StartLife’s programs will immediately benefit from this partnership. It provides them with in-depth industry knowledge, capabilities to scaleup upstream technologies, access to other partners in the value chain, as well as valuable reality checks.

About Limagrain

Limagrain is an agricultural cooperative owned by nearly 1,500 farmers located in Limagne Val d’Allier (in the center of France), and an international seed group with more than 10,000 employees in 56 countries. The Group breeds, produces and distributes field seeds, vegetable seeds and cereal products. Focused on the genetic progress of plants, it is driven by its purpose: cooperating for the progress of agriculture everywhere, for everyone.

As the fourth largest seed company worldwide, Limagrain, with well-known brands on their markets such as LG, Vilmorin, Hazera, Harris Moran, Jacquet and Brossard, makes 1,883 million euros in sales, to which is added 678 million euros made jointly with its strategic partners.

Unilever Opens Global Foods Innovation Center Next Door To StartLife

On 6 December Unilever, corporate partner of StartLife since 2018, opened their new Global Foods Innovation Center next door to StartLife. The center was officially opened by His Majesty the King of the Netherlands. Our managing director Jan Meiling, together with senior management of Unilever, was given the opportunity to discuss the value of open innovation ecosystems with the King.

The Hive

The Hive. That is how Unilever calls its €85 million global foods innovation center. From Hive, Unilever will lead its foods innovation programs for brands like Knorr, Hellmann’s, The Vegetarian Butcher and Calvė. Areas of research include: plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious foods. Together with its partners, amongst which StartLife’s startups, Unilever aims to transform the food industry into a healthy and sustainable system, driving innovations that are healthier for people and for our planet.

Next door neighbor

At StartLife we are, of course, very happy to welcome Unilever as our next door neighbor here at Wageningen Campus. “The arrival of the innovation center in Wageningen lowers thresholds for knowledge exchange and increases the chance for more and more intensive cooperation between people and parties on Wageningen Campus and the surrounding Foodvalley area,” says Laura Thissen, operational director of StartLife.

Caroline Bijkerk, global partnerships manager at StartLife, adds: “One of the big advantages of having a corporate partner situated next door is that it is really easy to walk in, meet up and have more informal contact moments with each other. This applies for both StartLife and our startups. Digital communication tools, like e-mail and skype, are helpful, but are no substitute for meetings in the flesh.

Enriching regional entrepreneurial spirit

As said, Jan Meiling was given the opportunity to be part of a discussion about the value of open innovation ecosystems with the Dutch King. “I was happy to explain to the King why we are so pleased that Unilever has joined our regional open innovation ecosystem. First of all, Hive has a genuine open door policy, which is unique compared to most corporate innovation centers. And aside from an open inbound and outbound knowledge flow, the Hive adds value to our regional ecosystem by sharing infrastructure, fostering innovative research and enriching the entrepreneurial spirit in our region.”  Clearly, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Practical and figuratively speaking in this case. “We look forward taking the first bites,” concludes Jan.

Free Research Capacity: Wageningen Student Projects

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) is looking for organizations with an interesting subject for groups of students to work on.

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 17th to March 15th. For commissioners, participation in the course is free. Due to the participation of international students, the project will be executed in English. 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 December 13th 2019 at the latest. (See contact information at the bottom of this page.)

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 (Sept. – Oct., Nov.-Dec., Jan. – Mar., Mar-Apr, May – July). 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 information at the bottom of this page.)

Applications for the March/April course is open till January 24th 2020.

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
jelle.vanleeuwen@wur.nl
T: + 31 317 485 314
www.wur.nl/onderwijsloket

 

Personalized Nutrition Planning Platform Verdify Has Launched

After two years of preparation and development nutrition startup Verdi Food has launched their platform for evidence-based personalized nutrition planning: Verdify. The platform empowers patients with a chronic medical condition to easily implement medically prescribed diets in their daily routine. Verdify will also soon be integrated with a large Dutch supermarket. This will allow users to order recipe ingredients directly via their application. A great start for this promising startup that is part of the StartLife community since 2018.

Effortless nutrition planning

People who have considered following a health-related nutrition program or diet know what a daunting task this can be. A growing number of companies try to solve this problem by means of applications that provides customized meal plans. However, most of these applications are limited in their flexibility to the user – offering meal recipes that do not fully meet individual preferences and nutritional needs. As a result, these companies fail to solve the real challenge that people encounter after having received dietary advice. The nutrition startup Verdi Food may have struck gold by developing a truly smart and evidence-based solution.

Verdify: a smart, personalized nutrition planning platform

Verdi Food generated a software engine that automatically adapts virtually any meal recipe to a detailed personal nutrition and health profile – including food preferences, allergies, medical diets and in 2020 biomarker outcomes (blood, microbiome) as well. Meanwhile, taste, nutritional value and fit with the recipe is safeguarded. The company designed the engine to accommodate the full spectrum of patient needs. By doing so they go far beyond what is possible with other meal planning apps.

The application is great for all to use, but most of all for patients with a chronic medical condition. It is developed to be a highly convenient tool for patients to plan, purchase and prepare healthy meals that fit into a personal diet prescribed by healthcare providers. To ensure that meals meet specific health conditions Verdify works with evidence-based diets only. And for each medical indication its approach is verified with medical experts.

Scaling up fast

The first version of Verdify is made ready for people with food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and hypertension. The nutrition startup intends to demonstrate the potential of the personalized recipe service first in these domains and then scale up further. They expect to go fast forward in the coming months, so they already prepare for a first external funding round.

Jochem Bossenbroek, co-founder and CEO of Verdi Food, accredits StartLife for an invaluable contribution to the development of Verdify: “The coaching and feedback of StartLife has supported us in adopting a fully evidence-based approach, positioning Verdify in such manner that it can be used as an extension of current medical practice.