All posts by Bram van Beek

Astanor Ventures Partners With StartLife To Help Scale Up Disruptive Agrifoodtech

Image Partnership Astanor-StartLife

Astanor Ventures, a venture capital fund uniquely focused on supporting and scaling disruptive solutions to some of the most urgent global needs in food and agriculture, has joined the StartLife partner community. Together we will maximize impact by helping startups grow internationally.

The partnership connects StartLife’s large network of startups with Europe’s largest impact investor in the sector, and facilitates an exchange of knowledge and expertise between the two entities. Based on campus at Wageningen University & Research, StartLife also provides a gateway to up-and-coming technologies and innovations in agtech and foodtech.

Astanor is born in Europe, with offices in Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and the US, with a global reach throughout Europe and the United States as well as a presence in Australia. Astanor has raised over € 370 million to invest in impact-driven agrifood tech companies and has backed over 40 companies worldwide.

Wageningen at the centre of the European agrifood ecosystem

Astanor and StartLife in front of StartLife's partner wall
Arnout Dijkhuizen (Astanor) and Lin Zhu (StartLife)

“Wageningen is really the European centre of food and agricultural development,” said Arnout Dijkhuizen, Investment Principal at Astanor. “We strongly believe in this ecosystem and the part that StartLife plays in it. There is also a lot of opportunity because of the European Union with its Farm to Fork strategy. We like to say we invest in the whole value chain, not just from farm to fork, but from soil to gut.”

Investment Relations Manager at StartLife Lin Zhu said, “Astanor has significant influence in the field of sustainability, which matches our mission and vision as well, and obviously adds very good value to the StartLife ecosystem. For us, we wanted to not only expand the investor network with more international investors to match our startup portfolio, but also increase the knowledge in our network. We always try to create a close-knit community that can push the industry forward.”

Providing agrifoodtech solutions along the value chain

Both Astanor and StartLife are impact driven, meaning that all the companies they back must provide solutions to urgent social and environmental issues in the food and agriculture value chain. That could mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it could also be about improving biodiversity, conserving water, tackling societal issues for farmers, or improving health, for example.

"Agriculture has the ability to go beyond sustainability and become regenerative."

“Agriculture has the ability to go beyond sustainability and become regenerative,” said Dijkhuizen. “Currently, we have a system that produces a lot of food but not necessarily in the right place or with the right nutritional profile. We focus on all the aspects of the value chain.”

From startup to scale-up

StartLife primarily targets early-stage companies in the sector, while Astanor’s focus is on taking them to the next level and helping them grow into mature companies.

“We believe in impact through scale, which means the companies we support need to be for everyone and not just a select few,” Dijkhuizen said. “With our international presence we can also help these companies go further in their international development.”

“StartLife provides a safe environment between the startups and the investor,” added Zhu. “Both parties can be very honest about their expectations.”

Startups looking to connect with Astanor should get in touch with StartLife directly to arrange an introduction.

About Astanor Ventures

Astanor Ventures is an impact investor that backs ambitious entrepreneurs across the world with disruptive, scalable solutions that will create systemic change across the agrifood value chain. Astanor partners with founders who are committed to restoring balance and sustainability to the land and oceans, prioritizing nature and culture, nurturing change and feeding growth.


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

StartLife and Box Enter Partnership To Accelerate Transformation To A Sustainable Food System

Partnership Box-StartLife

We proudly announce our strategic partnership with Blue Ocean Xlerator (BOX). As two startup builders from the Food Valley we aim to accelerate the growth of startups that are developing sustainable innovations for the food supply chain. We also want to increase the international profile of the Food Valley region and draw more domestic and foreign startups and scale-ups to it. 

StartLife and Box have known each other for a long time. There was informal contact, but no structural cooperation until now. “It was only a matter of time before we entered into a partnership,” says Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife. “For years, both our organizations have been committed to helping startups make the transformation to a sustainable food and agriculture supply chain. We both do this in different ways. StartLife is a startup accelerator, while Box is a venture builder. This is why we complement each other so well.”

“We get involved in technological innovations when they are still only rough ideas,” explains BOX partner Raşit Görgülü. “If we think a new technology looks promising, we will form an entrepreneurial team to bring it further if necessary. With our own R&D companies, we can also actively contribute to advanced product development. Of course, we also invest capital; we examine what each startup needs and what we can contribute to it.”

Transformation to sustainable food system

Photo of Raşit Görgülü (Box) and Jan Meiling (StartLife) Signing Partnership Agreement
Raşit Görgülü (Partner, Box), Lin Zhu (Investor Relations Manager, StartLife) and Jan Meiling (MD, StartLife)

“We share an ambition to transform the food supply chain into a sustainable system,” continues Görgülü. “Think in terms of new products like plant-based proteins, sustainable dairy products and meat substitutes. We all now realize that this transformation is badly needed and that it must take place as soon as possible. This demands focused and collective efforts, and by joining forces and actively supporting impactful innovations, we can help to accelerate this transformation.”

"We share an ambition to transform the food supply chain into a sustainable system."

For this reason, BOX recently also became a partner in F&A Next, the internationally renowned conference organized by StartLife in collaboration with Wageningen University, Rabobank and Anterra Capital, among others. Earlier this month, 600 entrepreneurs, investors and major companies from 44 countries attended the seventh edition of F&A Next to share knowledge and explore new partnerships for a sustainable food supply chain

“We’re proud to have made this event possible together with StartLife,” says Görgülü. “It was a major happening and helped put the Food Valley region on the map. With so much energy and inspiration, it will certainly result in beautiful new initiatives.”

Call for startups

StartLife and Box strongly believe in the power of cooperation – with each other, with startup and with all the parties in the Food Valley ecosystem.

“Now that we have joined forces, we can streamline our collective support processes and help achieve great things,” says Meiling. “Any startup that would like to benefit from our support is warmly invited to connect with StartLife. It’s time for a sustainable food system, and there is no time to waste!”

About Blue Ocean Xlerator (BOX NV)

BOX is a venture builder that invests in high-tech start-ups that develop sustainable breakthrough technologies for the food, agriculture and life sciences sectors. BOX combines sound scientific and technological expertise with entrepreneurship and years of experience in building and selling businesses. The two in-house R&D companies of BOX, Top and TDI, both have a solid track record and reputation. BOX’s startup portfolio includes companies like Ojah, Bflike, Eatch, Dutch Structuring Technologies and Advanced Biotics.

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

ICL Planet Joins With StartLife For Next Generation Crop and Food Innovation


ICL, a leading global specialty minerals company, has partnered up with StartLife in its quest to invest in startups focused on new ways to address global challenges in food and agricultural production.  These challenges range from increasing yields and tackling food insecurity, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  With both organizations being fully geared toward accelerating the development and growth of early-stage startups, this partnership enables us to advance in our shared mission.

Headquartered in Israel, ICL Planet serves as the vehicle ICL uses to cultivate, nurture and accelerate innovation in the agrifood tech ecosystem, through open innovation and collaboration on a global basis.  Potential targets also include novel ways to recycle minerals, extract them from waste streams and convert them to fertilizers or to develop innovative functional proteins for clean label applications, among others.

Establishing new generation of plant nutrition solutions

“ICL Planet seeks to establish a new generation of plant nutrition solutions, and our aim is to invest in startups that can make a meaningful difference,” said Hadar Sutovsky, vice president of External Innovation at ICL Group.  Sutovsky first encountered StartLife through its annual summit – F&A Next – which is centered on disruptive agrifood technologies and brings together startups, investors and corporates from all over the world.

"Our aim is to invest in startups that can make a meaningful difference." ~ Hadar Sutovsky

“StartLife has a strong track record of spotting and attracting promising early-stage startups globally, and its position at the heart of the European agrifoodtech ecosystem, its focus on sustainable food systems, and its strong links with the world-renowned Wageningen University & Research were central to our decision to enter into a partnership,” continued Sutovsky.

Scaling and innovation puzzle

StartLife - LauraThissen ICL Planet -Hadar Sutovsky-Partnership
Laura Thissen (StartLife) and Hadar Sutovsky (ICL PLanet)

StartLife’s Operations Director, Laura Thissen, said, “Through this partnership, StartLife aims to accelerate startups’ scaling journey and, at the same time, support ICL in finding the best startups, which match their innovation challenges.  Our team is already identifying startups looking to partner and to help solve a piece of the innovation puzzle for ICL Planet.  The scope includes crop nutrition, such as next generation fertilizers and biostimulants, but also precision farming and alternative proteins.”

Thissen added, “To boost innovation, StartLife actively connects startups to leading players in the industry.  ICL’s core domain is complementary to our partner community value chain coverage.  In our talks, we quickly discovered we have a lot of synergies in our activities and the same drive for sustainability in food and agriculture.”

Gains for startups

Startups have much to gain from a collaboration with ICL Planet, including market access, expertise and world class scientists, as well as the ability for sample testing.  As an on-the-ground industrial partner, ICL can also provide agronomic or food application feedback.  ICL Planet is already an active investor in several agrifood startups, most recently in alternative protein companies Plantible and Protera.

Startups interested in partnering with ICL Planet Startup Hub should contact StartLife to arrange an introduction.


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

StartLife Welcomes Agrifoodtech Community at F&A Next 2022

On 18-19 May, StartLife will welcome, once again, hundreds of the world’s leading tech startups, scale-ups, investors and corporates in food & agriculture at the annual F&A Next summit at Wageningen Campus, and online. As co-founder of this summit, StartLife looks forward bringing the agrifoodtech community together to connect, share insights and explore partnership opportunities aimed at building a sustainable food ecosystem and a better deal for all.

F&A Next is a two-day summit at Wageningen Campus that aims to accelerate innovation for a sustainable food & ag value chain. It’s the annual gathering of the world’s brightest minds in agrifoodtech who will debate industry challenges, share insights, discover new solutions and explore game-changing partnerships and investment opportunities.

Transformation of Global Food Systems

For our 7th edition, we will zoom in on the Transformation of Global Food Systems. The urgency to radically transform our food chain is increasing. Capital investment in food and agriculture is growing at an unprecedented rate. But are investments in technology and innovative business models contributing to more sustainable food production? What is still needed to meet the SDGs in 2030?

Renowned experts and industry leaders will share their thoughts and insights. Special topics include:

  • the role of impact investors,
  • the need for regenerative farming,
  • the future of proteins,
  • food & ag innovation in emerging markets, and
  • changing consumer preferences.

In close collaboration with F&A Next, Agfunder will also present its annual European Investment Report.

Agrifoodtech startups

F&A Next is all about startups meeting with investors, corporates and other agrifoodtech enthusiast. We offer 10 most promising agrifoodtech startups, the Next Heroes in Food & Agtech, the special opportunity to pitch live on stage to the entire audience. Startups  (>2017) from all over the world have until 13 April to apply for a pitching slot, which also includes a free ticket and free publicity.

In addition to the ten Next Heroes in Food & Agtech, we will also present some of StartLife’s very own early-stage startups at the extra-curricular breakfast session on Thursday 19 May.

Get your StartLife Relation Ticket!

As co-founder of F&A Next, StartLife wholeheartedly invites you to join these two days of networking, pitching and debating the dynamics in food and agriculture.

If you haven’t registered already, make sure to grab your own StartLife relation ticket (code: SL22), which earns you a 10% discount on regular in-person and online tickets. Buy your ticket before 18 April, to take advantage of the early-bird ticket prices!

We look forward welcoming you on 18-19 May at Wageningen Campus, or online. The choice is yours!

For an overview of the program and tickets go to


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

StartLife Selects 9 Early-stage Startups Targeting Global Agrifood Challenges

StartLife has selected nine new (very) early-stage startups to join its eighth acceleration program this spring. The startups have been selected for their promising technological solutions to tackling global agrifood challenges, including sustainable farming, food waste prevention and the protein transition.


The startups selected will enter StartLife’s 3-month acceleration program, which is entirely dedicated to guiding foodtech and agtech startups in validating their business, raising funding and accelerating their impact. Loet Rammelsberg, StartLife’s program director, is excited to start StartLife’s eighth cohort, which will have some extra challenges.

Rammelsberg, “Though StartLife’s acceleration program is already fully tailored to early-stage agrifoodtech startups, this cohort includes numerous very early-stage startups. The companies and their technologies are, so to speak, yet to be born. However, considering their highly promising solutions and the great teams, we are confident as to the potential impact and their chances for success.”

Smart, sustainable food and ag technologies

For its spring 2022 program, StartLife received a record number of applications from startups all over the world. For the first time ever, even from five continents. Rammelsberg, “This underlines the fact that worldwide a growing number of entrepreneurial talents are dedicated to providing novel solutions that tackle our global challenges in food and agriculture.”

The following startups, including StartLife’s very first Latin-American startup, are fortunate to be accepted into the acceleration program. And StartLife is proud to have them onboard and to be working with them.


  • Naturannova (Chile)– plant protein discovery platform for the design of tailor-made ingredients
  • NoA Biosciences (Netherlands)– Fermentation of woody biomass into alternative protein for feed and food
  • Upstream Foods (Netherlands) – Animal-free, cell-based fish fat to improve plant-based protein


  • Gaia Tech (Switzerland) – Valorization of high-value food, feed and pharmaceutical ingredients from olive oil by-products
  • Organifarms (Germany) – farming robots for indoor farms, starting with a strawberry harvester
  • Lite+Fog (Germany)– Novel vertical farming setup using fogponics and textile-based technology

Agbio & Biobased tech

  • Groam (Switzerland)– Provider of sustainable foamed biomaterials
  • InsectSense (Netherlands) – Insect-behavioral based technological solutions
  • Next Probiotics (Israel) – Technology enabling the growing of vegetables and fruits rich in probiotics

Join StartLife’s virtual Demo Day on 23 June

In the coming months, the startups will sharpen their business case, improve their technologies and prepare for (further) investments.

On June 23rd, the startups will conclude the program with a live (virtual) presentation to a global audience of investors, corporates, partners and other agrifoodtech enthusiasts. Those who are interested in joining the Graduation Day (Demo Day), in person in Wageningen or online, can register here or via the form below.  All people registered will automatically have access to the online streaming and the recordings that become available after the event.

In Person Venue
Wageningen Campus | Plus Ultra II Building
Bronland 10-D
6708 WH Wageningen

Online Venue

powered by Crowdcast


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

Vacancy: Startup Scout at StartLife

Agrifood Accelerator StartLife Team 2020

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

About the position: Startup Scout

As our Startup Scout you have one main aim: finding and selecting the most impactful European early phase B2B startups for our support programs, including  our flagship program StartLife Accelerate. You’ll also match startups with leading corporates and investors from all over the world. You will work together with corporates like Givaudan – the world’s largest flavor & fragrance producer, Yili – Asia’s largest dairy producer. And with investors, such as the YieldLab Europe, Doehler Ventures, and ICOS capital. As a contact person for our startups and corporates you will help to organize meetups with those partners.

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

What you will do as Startup Scout at StartLife

  • Participate in offline and online agrifood events to identify and reach out to the best agrifoodtech startups, discuss their proposition and assess the fit for StartLife’s programs
  • Engage with our global f&a corporate partners on their innovation challenges and our investor partners on dealflow
  • Manage relations with other startup accelerators/incubators in Europe to identify startups
  • Utilize online channels and social media to identify and connect to potential startups
  • Help organize meet & greets, selection & demo days, and other virtual / hybrid meetups

What we ask from you

  • You love food and agtech startups;  your own startup experience is a strong plus
  • You’ve completed a bachelor / master in biotechnology, bioprocess engineering or plant sciences
  • You are fluent in English and Dutch
  • You are out-going, a go-getter: you get things done and you know it
  • You’re super active on social media and love organizing online meetings

What we offer you

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

Your monthly salary depends on your knowledge and experience; with a maximum of gross €2,980 monthly for a full working week (36 hours). The duration of the employment contract is initially for one year via Randstad Payrolling with the intention to extend.

Please note that a permanent working permit in the Netherlands is required for this position.

About StartLife

StartLife is the top agrifoodtech startup accelerator in The Netherlands and Europe, co-founded by Wageningen University & Research. We offer a world-class acceleration program, top industry business mentors, non-equity funding and access to a global community of startups, investors, corporates and experts. Since 2010 we’ve supported over 400 agrifoodtech startups that have raised over €230 million follow-on capital.


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

For more information, please contact Laura Thissen on +31 6 2241 0815, or Giuila Crastolla (Startup Scout) +31 6 2804 3706.


Co-Lab: Build A Circular Tech Startup

CoLab Yes!Delft-StartLife

Looking for a co-founder to build and grow a startup that contributes to our transition to a circular economy? Join the first joined Co-lab by StartLife and YES!Delft on Wednesday, 23 March. The program includes a specialized workshop aimed at helping you find your co-founder to co-build a startup with.

Find your co-founder!

There is a reason why people don’t climb Everest on their own. With a team, you can overcome obstacles that seem impossible just by yourself. Research over the past 4 decades has shown that startups that are co-founded by a team are more successful. In the Co-Lab workshop, as a single founder, founding team, or entrepreneurial-minded person, you’ll get the tools and connections to find that new member of your dream team to help you reach the top!

Theme: Circular EconomyCircular Economy - Green Earth 2

In this co-lab edition, focus on matching (future) entrepreneurs who actively want to contribute to our transition to a circular economy.

In a circular economy, waste no longer not exist and products and raw materials are (designed to be) reused as long and intensive as possible over and over again. Waste is the new raw material.

The core tenets of the transition towards a circular economy are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover and Regenerate. These concepts often lie at the heart of the innovative technology and business models of circular startups and spinoff businesses. Let’s ensure that our planet remains habitable for future generations!

YES!Delft Meets StartLife

What better way to help build new teams than mixing startup communities? With our shared love for startups and technology, we look forward to organizing this co-lab with our friends of YES!Delft.

Since its foundation in 2005, YES!Delft has grown to one of the largest tech incubators in Europe. They support entrepreneurs in building and growing technology companies in the Netherlands, with a focus on one of the following 9 areas: Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, BioTech, CleanTech, MedTech, EdTech, Aviation, Robotics and Complex Technology.

The Co-lab Workshop

The Co-Lab is a half-day virtual workshop where we challenge you to collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs.

  • Workshop on business idea ideation & teamwork (a business idea or team not required!)
  • Get the tools, knowledge and connections to find your co-founder or newest team member
  • Introduction and sneak peek into YES!Delft’s and StartLife’s services, programs and office spaces.
  • Participation is free, but also limited to match potential and seat availability. Registration is therefore required.

Register for Co-lab: Build A Circular Tech Startup

Co-lab is an online event that takes place on Wednesday, 23 March from 13:15 to 17:00. There are limited (online) seats available and we will select participants based on the best potential matches. So make sure to register as soon as possible but no later than 16 March.

StartLife Will Again Invest Millions In Agrifoodtech Startups

In the next few years, innovative tech startups working to make our food chain more sustainable can request subordinated loans from StartLife. The loans will vary from €75,000 to €250,000. Financing is from a new fund, Startup Fund Gelderland (SFG).

Our current food supply is under pressure and traditional production systems have a very negative influence on the climate. The problem is an urgent one. By offering favorable, subordinated loans, StartLife enables young technology companies to realize innovative solutions for sustainable food production. For example, technologies that contribute to reducing greenhouse gases in agriculture, reducing waste in food chains and developing meat substitutes.

StartLife offers the risk-bearing loans in combination with professional coaching and supervision. Under the motto ‘stronger together’, startups will also have access to the knowledge and experience of prominent corporates and investors in the agriculture and food industry that are affiliated with StartLife. And of course, warm connections can be made to StartLife’s founding partner, Wageningen University & Research.

Startup Fund Gelderland

Jan Meiling (StartLife) and Suradj Hiralal (Oost NL)

In addition to aligning with StartLife’s mission to make food systems more sustainable, companies must also have technology that is both protectable and scalable. In addition, the company must create a demonstrable economic or social impact in the province of Gelderland by being located here or carrying out part of its business activities here. This also explains why the fund is called ‘Startup Fund Gelderland’.

The fund has been set up made possible by the province of Gelderland and various supporting programs, including StartLife, and it is managed by the East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL). Loan applications from and the supervision of agrifood startups are handled by StartLife. Suradj Hiralal, project manager SFG at Oost NL, explains:

Our organizations have already had a successful collaboration in place for many years. StartLife has all of the knowledge and experience needed to support these startups. And by combining our (inter)national networks, we offer startups optimum support.”

From €6 million to €180 million

The loans are from a so-called ‘revolving fund’. Loans that are repaid become available again for new loans. With this system in place, StartLife expects to offer about €6 million in loans to agrifood startups in the next few years.

Jan Meiling, managing director of StartLife, pointed out that StartLife has already provided almost €8 million in loans from previous funds. And not without results.

“The startups that we support have created about 1,500 knowledge-intensive jobs and raised about 230 million in total funding. That’s a multiplier of nearly 30. And the counter is still ticking! If we project this into the future, this new fund is likely to result in an additional 180 million in economic activity in the coming years.”

Growth acceleration

Eligible startups can apply for the pre-seed loan throughout the year. Entrepreneurs who want to get the most out of StartLife’s support and its ecosystem can also register for the semi-annual acceleration program, StartLife Accelerate. The upcoming program will run from March through June. Registration is open until 1 February.


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

Plantcarb Introduces Starch with Superpowers

One in ten adults lives with diabetes and the number is rising fast. With diabetes being the world’s fastest growing chronic condition, we need to lower our sugar consumption. Jan Mousing, CEO of the agbiotech company Plantcarb, believes to have found a solution with a unique proprietary starch, which can be used as a health ingredient as well as an extremely strong compostable bioplastic.

Jan Mousing - CEO of PlantcarbIn 2018, serial-entrepreneur Jan Mousing was hired by Aarhus University as a business developer, which is how he met two remarkable plant scientists. As the only ones in the world, these scientists have developed a unique method for producing agricultural crops whose starch can lift the burden of the global type-2 diabetes epidemic and dramatically reduce the growing ‘plastic soup’ in our oceans. No wonder, Jan immediately recognized the potential of this unique product.

“Looking at all my previous companies, I’ve never been more convinced about the huge market potential than with Plantcarb!” ~ Jan Mousing

Mid 2019, he founded the spin-out Plantcarb, together with the two researchers Kim Hebelstrup (CSO) and Andreas Blennow (CINO). And they’ve made great progress since.

Starch: most common carbohydrate in human diet

So, let’s start with the ingredient: starch, the most common carbohydrate in human diet. It’s a key ingredient in thousands of food products we consume on a daily basis, including bread, pasta and baking flour. And as an additive for food processing, starch is typically used as thickeners and stabilizers in foods such as puddings, custards, soups, sauces, gravies etc. But starch is also used in many non-food applications, like adhesives, textiles, paper and bioplastics.

Not surprisingly, the starch market is huge. In 2020, the global industrial starch market size was valued at roughly USD 98 billion. In comparison, the market for egg whites – another major food ingredient – was ‘only’ valued about USD 29 billion. Also interesting, some plant-based egg alternatives are even made from starches.

But here’s the problem with starch. Many starches break down sugars too quickly, which makes our blood sugars levels increase fast to an unhealthy level. It thereby causes a high glucose peak described by the so-called Glycemic Index (GI). On the long term, frequent increase of blood sugars to high levels (high GI) may lead to type-2 diabetes. And with diabetes being one of the world’s leading cause of death, we urgently need a solution.

War on diabetes and plastic waste with 100% amylose starch

Starch consists of two types of natural compounds: amylose and amylopectin. The latter being the ‘bad guy’. Plantcarb is developing a grain based on an ancient barley whose starch is 100% amylose. The crop has a remarkable high yield and is super resistant throughout the seasons.

“The world has never seen this before!" ~ Jan Mousing

Compared to other flours, the amylose is not broken down into sugars but converted into healthier short-chain fatty acids. This means less sugar intake for humans and a prevention of type-2-diabetes. The company’s first application is HIAMBA, a proprietary barley flour with the potential to prevent fast breakdown from starch to sugar. According to Plantcarb, this could have the potential of becoming a new plant-based staple in our diets.

In addition to application in food, Plantcarb’s natural amylose can also be used as a raw material for extremely strong and biodegradable plastic. “It’s 100 times stronger than other starch-based bioplastics,” says Jan. “You can even build solid, compostable bicycles with it.” This apparent superplastic is a low cost and eco-friendly alternative to plastics derived from fossil oils. Hello new era!

The challenge

Excited already? There is one temporarily drawback. The current crop that is able to grow 100% amylose is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Which makes it – currently – unfit for the European food market, and generally unpopular among food producers throughout the world. Thus, the challenge is to reverse engineer barley to a 100% amylose crop that can be grown fully GMO free.

The good news is that Plantcarb’s researchers already made great progress in developing several non-GMO variants. According to Jan, the first results look very promising. “We expect to take it to market within two years from now. Early next year, we plan to raise investments to make it all happen.”

Connecting with the agrifood industry

Of course, we gotta ask how Plantcarb has benefited from support by StartLife.

Soon after Plantcarb was founded, Jan was contacted by Carla van Heck, one of StartLife’s coaches: “I’m educated as veterinarian including a Ph.D. in epidemiology and economics. When Carla  reached out to me, I immediately realized they could be a valuable steppingstone to the agrifood industry for us. And they have been. Over the past 1,5 years, StartLife has set up several meetings with the right people at relevant industry players, which would have been very difficult to achieve without them. It has given us great insight and valuable feedback.”

Jan also wants to give kudos to Carla. “She has been very supportive from the get-go and provided valuable advice and suggestions.”

“It's only a matter of time for Plantcarb to become successful!” ~ Carla van Heck

Carla is very excited about Plantcarb and enjoys working with Jan Mousing. “It takes courage to commercialize a university tech spin-off with such a long road to market. But what fascinates me most about Plantcarb is that their unique innovation has such a wide range of application purposes. Their challenge now is to find their power as a platform technology and specify their application. Having said that, I believe it’s not a question if Plantcarb will become successful, but how fast. “

Want to try Plantcarb’s 100% amylose grain?

What’s ahead? Plantcarb is now looking for companies that are ready to bring it to the next step by testing their amylose for application purposes. This can be both in food and bioplastics. Additionally, they are looking for companies in the starch purification industry to come up with new ways to purify starch with short cuts that require less resources. Plantcarb has 200kg of amylose flour available for testing and can produce more.

Plantcarb Hiamba

Are you in for a trial with a next generation food ingredient? Jan Mousing is looking forward to hearing from you. Email:


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

PeakBridge VC Opens Dutch Office At StartLife

PeakBridge VC is strengthening its European presence by extending its partnership with StartLife, which includes the opening of a Peakbridge office at StartLife on Wageningen Campus. StartLife will assist PeakBridge in building a strong local community while better serving European startups in the Agrifoodtech space.

PeakBridge is a highly networked investment platform dedicated to managing funds worldwide building the infrastructure of agrifoodtech innovation. PeakBridge is focusing on innovative, scalable, and ESG-positive companies with protectable technologies that improve human nutrition and the food production value chain. PeakBridge invests globally in early-stage and series A companies.

In August 2021, PeakBridge joined the investor pool of StartLife alum Orbisk, a company that offers automated food waste monitor for hospitality organizations.

The fresh partnership will elevate the existing collaboration. Thomas van den Boezem, Senior Associate at PeakBridge and former StartLife staff member, will head up the Netherlands office and engage closely with the StartLife community.

Thomas says: “It’s a pleasure to take our partnership to the next level. With PeakBridge’s focus on investing in the most promising agrifoodtech companies, I’m looking forward to meeting and working with both early & growth-stage startups in the StartLife community.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife, says :“Though we’ve always remained in close contact, we are really happy to see Thomas return to the StartLife office in his new role. It’s also great that PeakBridge’s Wageningen location joins their hubs in Malta, Dubai and Tel Aviv. We look forward to taking our collaboration to an even higher level, giving another great boost to the development of a sustainable food system.”

Startups, as well as other community members of StartLife are encouraged to reach out Thomas van den Boezem, or Lin Zhu, StartLife’s investor relationship manager.


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

Vacature: Secretaresse bij StartLife

Agrifood Accelerator StartLife Team 2020

Ben jij de enthousiaste en proactieve secretaresse die zorgt dat alles op rolletjes loopt?

StartLife is de top agrifoodtech startup accelerator in Nederland en Europa, opgericht door Wageningen University & Research. Wij ondersteunen startups in ons acceleration program, verbinden ze met business mentoren, non-equity financiering en een wereldwijd netwerk van startups, investeerders, bedrijven en tech experts. Sinds 2010 hebben we 400+ agrifoodtech startups ondersteund die meer dan €205 miljoen vervolgfinanciering hebben opgehaald.

Over de baan

Je werkt in een jong en dynamisch team van 16 mensen in het Plus Ultra 2 gebouw op Wageningen Campus – het hart van de agri & food startup community. Je werkt met startups, bedrijven, onderzoekers en het StartLife team en zorgt dat alles op rolletjes loopt!

Jouw taken zijn:

  • Telefoon/mails beantwoorden, mensen verwelkomen in ons kantoor
  • Zorgen dat het kantoor er top uit ziet, (team)lunches en borrels verzorgen
  • (Online) meetings inplannen en agenda’s beheren
  • Contracten opslaan en ons CRM-systeem updaten
  • Reizen boeken voor het team
  • Ondersteunen bij het organiseren van events.

We vragen

  • Je hebt een MBO niveau 4 secretaresse opleiding of ca. 2 jaar ervaring als secretaresse
  • Je kunt werken met Windows en MS Office tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint); ervaring met zoom/teams is een plus
  • Je schrijft en spreekt vloeiend Nederlands en spreekt/schrijft goed Engels
  • Je bent actief op social media
  • Je bent een organisatietalent en een aanpakker met een positieve instelling.

We bieden

Je maandsalaris hangt af van je kennis en ervaring, max. €2.545 buto per maand voor een fulltime aanstelling. De baan is in eerste instantie voor 20-24 uur per week, met de mogelijkheid om op termijn uit te breiden. De duur van het contract is 1 jaar met de intentie om te verlengen.


We leren je graag kennen! Laat ons weten waarom deze baan je op het lijf geschreven is! Stuur je cv en een korte motivatie naar onze Operations Director Deze vacature is open tot en met 21 januari 2022.

De interviews vinden plaats op 25 januari en 1 februari. De startdatum is in overleg. Wil je iets vragen over deze positie? Bel (+31 317 480 312) of mail Laura!

B-Mex New Startup Tenant at Plus Ultra II

B-Mex PlusUltra2

StartLife warmly welcomes B-Mex, a StartLife startup and WUR spin-off, into the startup offices at Plus Ultra II. The company is specialized in making crop models that provide growers and farmers with valuable insights and help optimize their crop yield. The company moved to Wageningen Campus to be closely to connected to its ecosystem and be close to talents of Wageningen University & Research.

After an academic career of 23 years in research and modelling at Wageningen University & Research, crop physiologist dr. Fokke Buwalda decided to turn his many and highly cited papers about crop models into practical tools for growers and farmers. At the end of 2013 he started B-Mex, a service provider aimed at enabling greenhouse growers to apply scientific simulation models to maximize yields, lower spoilage and reduce costs.

As a spin-out of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, Fokke had, and still has, access to cutting edge scientific knowledge and models. In 2015, Biosystems Engineer Peter van Beveren joined the team, whereas Plant Scientist and modeler Jeroen Boonekamp joined forces with B-Mex in 2019.

Today, B-Mex serves growers of cut flowers, pot plants and greenhouse vegetables. And recently, simulation models for potato, onion and soil conditions were added to the B-Mex portfolio.

A Chrystal ball for growers and farmersPotatoes-and-Gerberas

For many growers it’s very difficult to predict their yields as they still rely on gut feeling and best practices. But mathematical models can in fact predict the effect of changes in growing conditions really accurately, Fokke explains. With a laugh Fokke says, “We are pretty much offering a Chrystal ball to growers and farmers. But one that utilizes cutting-edge science and mathematics.”

“Mathematical models can accurately predict the effect of changes in growing conditions.“

“Take Gerbera daisies, for example. It’s one of the five most popular plants in the world. If a grower wants to have as many Gerberas as possible, let’s say for Valentine’s day or Mother’s day, he needs to know three months in advance what needs to be done today to optimize future yields. Our mathematical and computational methods provide the grower the with the insight needed to achieve the best results.”

Another example are potatoes. They don’t need to reach full maturation before harvest. On the contrary, potatoes are often grown for a specific size. “A potato farmer needs to know when it’s time to kill the foliage to stop the further growth of its potatoes. With our models and tools we can accurately predict when it’s time for the farmer to start killing the foliage of his potato plants.”

Scaling up the business

Fokke says, “In all fairness, as a seasoned academic it took me some time to develop my entrepreneurial skills. I feel confident now that the B-Mex team will take the company to the next level though. And I am as much grateful for the valuable support StartLife has provided me in the past as for the opportunity they have provided us now to move into the startup offices at Plus Ultra 2 and become an integral part of the innovation community here at Wageningen Campus.”

“Our business is going well and also the future is looking bright. In the coming months, we expect to recruit several new employees. And in the next few years, we also expect a considerate increase in the number of clients. Which will eventually lead to the recruitment of more talents.” It’s for this very reason that the B-Mex team moved their company to Wageningen Campus.

Agrifood innovation powerhouse

“I strongly believe that having our business situated in the heart of the agrifood innovation community will allow us to connect easier with stakeholders and also have better access to the many talented students of Wageningen University. Even though we’ve just moved in the Plus Ultra 2 building, and it’s relatively quiet at the moment due to the Corona pandemic, we already notice positive network effects. We’ve definitely made the right decision to move here and look forward to expanding our business here in the years ahead.”


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.


Verdify Raises €1.3M To Scale Its Swapmeals Platform For Personalized Recipes


Startlife alumnus Verdify has raised €1.3 million financing from Brightlands Venture Partners, Joles and the company’s founders. The investment will be used by Verdify to scale up its Swapmeals recipe platform that enables consumers to get tailored meal inspiration based on personal nutrition profiles.

This round follows last year’s capital injection of €750,000 for developing and launching the platform in the UK and The Netherlands. Jochem Bossenbroek, CEO at Verdify said: “In our endeavor to create lasting impact on people’s lives through healthy and sustainable eating we have found a strong companion in Brightlands Venture Partners. With the new investment and access to this innovative ecosystem we can not only scale up, but also build a bridge between the food sector and healthcare domain”.

Recipes adapted to individual nutrition needs

Consumers are increasingly on the lookout for a healthy and sustainable diet but struggle with the complexity of food choices. Verdify aims to tackle this issue by providing truly personalized recipe inspiration. This is accomplished on where recipes automatically adapt to consumers’ individual nutrition profiles. Personal parameters such as health conditions, food allergies, activity levels, lifestyle, location and taste preferences can be factored in.

Swapmeals® offers an enabling environment where the healthy and sustainable food choice becomes the default. The personal nutrition profiles can be easily created by consumers on the Verdify website and activated on to find fully personalized and shoppable recipes.

Algorithm automatically rewrites recipe instructions

Under the hood of the platform is Verdify’s recipe personalization engine that can map the composition of virtually all recipes on the internet and tailor them according to consumer nutrition profiles. A proprietary swapping algorithm replaces non-matching ingredients with suitable alternatives whilst another algorithm ‘rewrites’ the recipe instructions according to the new composition. The software makes sure the result is still tasty and nutritious.

Verdify can enable personalization on any other recipe platform with its engine, as well as link recipes to the digital shopping basket of local retailers.

Scaling up to healthcare domain

The investment will be used for scaling up the Swapmeals® platform, including introduction of the concept into the healthcare domain. This will enable consumers to receive nutritional advice from dietitians and medical professionals directly in their Verdify nutrition profile. Furthermore, it will be possible to enrich the profile with data from wearables and biomarker tests. Besides that, Verdify can support companies in the food industry by promoting their brands in personalized recipes on Swapmeals® – creating a podium for products that Verdify endorses.

Founder Story of Verdify: Better Health Through AI And Personalized Nutrition

“Verdify is a forerunner”

Kim de Boer, Partner at Brightlands Venture Partners believes Verdify responds to a clear and logical market need in personalized nutrition. “This is a fast scalable business in which Verdify is a forerunner. Brightlands Venture Partners is an ecosystem investor and we believe that the interaction of the company with the Brightlands ecosystem in the field of personalized nutrition and available AI knowledge will be beneficial for the company’s time to market and chances of success”.

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

StartLife Launches Job Portal for Agrifoodtech Startups


At StartLife, we continuously explore new opportunities that will help our agrifoodtech startups accelerate their business. To help our growing startups attract new talents, StartLife has launched a job portal for all our portfolio companies!

“Our startups can post any type of job vacancy here: full-time, part-time, internship, student jobs, co-founder or advisory board members”, says Loet Rammelsberg, StartLife’s program director and initiator of the job portal. “The free job portal has been developed to fulfil the needs of the startups as future employers as well job seekers who want to work at an impact-driven startup. Considering our close relationship with Wageningen University & Research, we should be able to help startups find the right talents.”

Following the lean startup approach, the platform was built to be as simple as possible (MVP) to support as many as needed.

Inclusive of co-founder vacancies

The job portal also provides an opportunity for startups to publish their co-founder vacancies. Loet explains: “On regular basis people who are interested in becoming a co-founder in an agrifoodtech startup ask us if we can connect them to startups that might be searching for a co-founder, and the other way around.  Our job portal allows us to facilitate this matching process.”

Check the current list of job vacancies.

Job portal for agrifoodtech startups


Hudson River Biotechnology Partners Up To Optimize Plant Breeding With CRISPR


Hudson River Biotechnology (HRB), a Wageningen-based agricultural biotechnology company, and Computomics, a Tübingen-based bioinformatics company, announced to start offering an end-to-end solution using CRISPR-based gene editing for novel plant trait development.

This partnership combines Computomics’ expertise in accurate and precise machine learning-based identification of novel gene editing targets without off-target effects, and Hudson River Biotechnology’s CRISPR gene editing workflow, which is foreign-DNA-free. The collaboration between Computomics and Hudson River Biotechnology allows for a smooth handover from identification of disruptive gene editing targets to a precision gene editing workflow to deliver new plants to market rapidly.

Develering new crop varieties with desired traits

The joint solution, AccelATrait™, uses tailormade machine learning and CRISPR gene editing technologies to deliver new crop varieties with desired traits. Accel-A-Trait™ covers the entire workflow from experimental design to plant regeneration. It helps plant breeders develop new business based on novel traits and decreases time to market by 3-4 times.

In this partnership, Computomics is responsible for detecting, locating, and identifying novel causal targets using the latest machine learning technology. Hudson River Biotechnology performs the targeted editing using their rapid and validated CRISPR workflow. This workflow allows HRB to address recalcitrant species and offers benefits through transgene-free editing and single cell regeneration.

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

Perfect symbiosis

Computomics and Hudson River Biotechnology complement each other perfectly in this partnership,” says Dr. Sebastian J Schultheiss, Managing Director of Computomics. “We are working together to help plant breeders develop new varieties with improved characteristics in a shorter time and with less costs.”

Rudi Ariaans, CEO of Hudson River Biotechnology, adds: “We see a clear benefit to this partnership, as many of our clients would like to access both the best in class bioinformatics capabilities and the best in transgene free CRISPR protocols to decrease the time to market for new crop varieties. AccelATrait brings these two together, allowing us to really accelerate molecular breeding for our clients. We look forward to being challenged to apply AccelATrait to previously unfeasible breeding projects, such as targeting polyploids and disruptive traits that can make a real difference.”


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

Online Graduation of StartLife’s Fall 2021 Cohort

On December 9th, nine early-stage agrifoodtech startups will conclude the StartLife Accelerate Fall 2021 program with an online presentation to a wide and global audience of investors, corporates, partners and other agrifood enthusiasts. It is an open event. Sign up to get a glimpse, and possibly even become involved, in the future of food!

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

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

Live virtual pitching event on 9 December

Join us on 9 December, from 3 to 4.30 PM (CET), to learn all about these startups and explore partnership and investment opportunities. It’s an interactive webinar, so you can ask questions via the chat. You can sign up via the form below or use the following link.

powered by Crowdcast

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

Bioventure Sundew Acquires MicroSynbiotiX And Completes €1.4M Funding


Sundew, a Dutch-Danish biotech startup focused on combating aquatic pests, diseases and invasive species, announced today the acquisition of MicroSynbiotiX in an all-share transaction. The addition of the algal RNA platform and pipeline accelerates Sundew’s commercialization. In parallel, Sundew raised 1.4 million euro in equity and convertible loan funding from The Yield Lab Europe and The Danish Growth Fund (Vaekstfonden).

In 2019, Sundew licensed technology from the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW, Wageningen) and the University of Copenhagen to provide safe alternatives to treat waterborne pests and diseases, especially those that affect aquaculture. In the fall of 2020, Sundew took part in the StartLife Accelerate program and raised 1.4 million euro seed funding. Together with The Yield Lab Europe, one of StartLife’s investor partners, and Danish Growth Fund, the biotech company now takes a big step forward in commercialization with the acquisition of the Irish biotech startup MicroSynbiotiX.

Microalgae as a natural drug delivery platform

One of the greatest challenges for the growing aquaculture industry is managing disease. As one example, the viral white-spot disease is devastating for shrimp farms as it causes more than USD$1 billion in annual losses. Currently, one of the most commonly used method for combating fish disease is vaccination by hand-held injection, which is labor intensive, expensive and often also very impractical. MicroSynbiotiX (MSX) genetically engineers microalgae, a natural part of fish diet, to transport or vaccines to animals as needed to safely achieve the desired therapeutic effect.

The microalgal oral vaccines can be mixed with fishmeal and fed to the fish, mimicking the natural feeding process. The natural digestion process of the fish unlocks the vaccine and triggers an immune response. In addition, because the vaccine is inside the microalgae chloroplast, it is protected by a rigid cell wall and is stable in harsh environmental conditions, extending the product’s shelf life. Such an approach is sustainable, user-friendly for fish farmers, and cost-effective.

Complementary technologies

MSX’s products complement Sundew’s current product pipeline which includes Biokos, a natural and environmentally friendly product for parasitic white-spot disease, a major disease of freshwater fish (a completely different disease from viral white-spot).

The two technology platforms have multiple synergies, including development (e.g. strain improvement), production (fermentation and DSP), regulatory frameworks and marketing. The acquisition also brings MicroSynbiotiX’s intellectual property portfolio into the Sundew pipeline. This IP includes a granted patent for producing and delivering therapeutic silencing RNAs to shrimp using micro-algal fermentation and chloroplast engineering.

Giovanni Salerno, Sundew’s CEO, said, ‘we are delighted to bring MicroSynbiotiX on board. This exciting technology and the additional funding strengthen Sundew’s long-term strategy. Sundew is building a portfolio of effective, affordable and environmentally benign biological products, delivering innovative solutions that meet major needs in important aquatic markets.’

Founder Story Sundew | targeting ‘huge unmet need’ for aquaculture

Driving sustainability in aquaculture

MSX co-founders Simon Porphy and Antonio Lamb will continue to support Sundew as scientific and technical advisors. ‘We are very excited to be part of Sundew,’ Simon said. ‘The team’s strong track record in building ventures will allow us to fully realize the potential of our technology.’ Antonio added: ‘Sundew has a great scientific team and a solid pipeline for new therapeutic products. We are very happy to be part of their vision to create environmentally benign products for the aquatic animal health industry.’

Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner at The Yield Lab Europe, said, ‘We see a unique opportunity to drive sustainability in the aquaculture industry by the combination of these two biotech companies. We look forward to the journey ahead.’

Though Sundew now raised €1.4M, we understand that there is still some room for additional funding to that. Please contact the company directly if you’re interested.


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

Biotech startup Scope Biosciences Attracts €1M Funding For CRISPR-diagnostic Platform

Biotech startup Scope Biosciences Partners Up With GenDx

Scope Biosciences, a Wageningen University & Research spin-off and a StartLife portfolio company, announced to have raised an investment of €1M. The funding is provided by GenDx,  a global leader in molecular diagnostic laboratory solutions. The proceeds will be used to speed up the development of its proprietary ScopeDx CRISPR-diagnostic platform and expand its partnerships.

Niek Savelkoul, CEO of Scope Biosciences, commented: “Our proprietary ScopeDx CRISPR-diagnostic platform has shown its incredible potential in various applications in the last three years of its development. With this investment we can bring the first ScopeDx products to the market.

Building on groundbreaking science

Scope Biosciences builds on the research of John van der Oost, professor of Microbiology at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), who is internationally regarded as one of the founders of the pioneering CRISPR-Cas technique, and assistant professor dr. Raymond Staals.

CRISPR-Cas is considered to be one of the most revolutionizing discoveries in the biotech sector. It’s most valuable characteristic is its native ability to precisely detect and cut specific sequences of genetic material for use in genetic engineering.

Fundamental discoveries made by Van der Oost’s research group have revealed how the CRISPR-Cas system contributes to the bacterial anti-viral defense mechanism. He identified various enzymes and molecular signaling pathways that make this defense possible. These discoveries play a fundamental role in the extensive application of CRISPR-Cas today.

Revolutionizing diagnostics with CRISPR-Cas

Developments in recent years have also shown the merits of CRISPR-Cas technology in the use of molecular diagnostics. Scope Biosciences applies CRISPR-Cas’ inherent specificity and ease of use to actually develop such a molecular diagnostic platform. This will revolutionize the field of diagnostics as the simplicity of the assay promises to bring highly accurate molecular diagnostics outside the research laboratory like clinical bedside applications.

Scope Biosciences was founded in 2020 by Jurre Steens, Niek Savelkoul, Bart Scholten and Stijn Prinsen. The idea to set up Scope Biosciences originated in close collaboration with the Laboratory of Microbiology, at the department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences at WUR. The ScopeDx technology was co-developed with WUR, which is exclusively licensed to Scope Biosciences.

The founders received support from seasoned entrepreneurs Math Kohnen and Wil Hazenberg and StartLife. Van der Oost and Staals both act as co-founders and will continue as Scientific advisors to support Scope Biosciences.

Smart Money

The investment capital is provided by GenDx, which specializes in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) products for transplant diagnostics and in molecular diagnostics. The Dutch company focuses on the development, production and sales of assays and analysis software for transplantation and companion diagnostics. The collaboration with GenDx is mutually beneficial, as it will entail a co-development trajectory to develop ScopeDx applications for transplant diagnostics.

Scope Biosciences will benefit from GenDx’ experience to speed up developing and marketing the ScopeDx platform. Furthermore, Scope Biosciences plans to use the funding to grow its research and development team, and expand on the running partnerships in the development of rapid diagnostics for infectious diseases in healthcare, veterinary and agrifood applications.

Dr. Wietse Mulder, CEO of GenDx, commented: “We are excited to collaborate with such a motivated and energetic team of Scope Biosciences that is supported by WUR, renowned scientists and seasoned businessmen. We truly believe that together with them, both Scope Biosciences and GenDx will be able to deliver meaningful products to the field of diagnostics based on CRISPR-Cas technology.”


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

These Foodtech Startups Successfully Recruited Their Seasoned Mentors


It’s widely known that startups benefit from advice and guidance by experienced entrepreneurs and professionals. Sometimes the spark between a mentor and his mentee light up to such extent that the mentor ends up being recruited by the startup. It happened to foodtech startups Cano-ela and Greencovery. When interviewing them about the change of roles, we noticed an interesting overlap.

Cano-ela spurs growth with Benjamin Maclean as Chief Commercial Officer


In the Spring of 2021, StartLife welcomed dr. Juliana Romero Guzmán and dr. Alberto Masetti Niccolai into the sixth edition of StartLife Accelerate with their one-year old startup Cano-ela; a Wageningen-based foodtech startup that developed a patented tailor-made process to extract innovative food ingredients from oil-rich seeds, focusing on Canola.

Though Canola, a variant of rapeseed, is a relatively new crop (1978), it has already become one of the world’s most important oilseed crops. In fact, with a market size of 69 million metric tonnes rapeseed in 2020, it’s the third biggest seed in the world, after palm and soy! But canola is so far only used for its oil. The full-usage of these crops represents a huge market that offers great opportunities for ambitious and sustainable entrepreneurs.

And as it happens to be, Juliana and Alberto are ambitious and sustainable entrepreneurs. By disrupting the traditional oil seed industry, they have set sail to become a game changer worldwide and remove refined ingredients from the food supply chain entirely. With such high ambitions, Juliana and Alberto welcome all the support they can get.

StartLife connected the founders of Cano-ela with two startup mentors. One of them is Benjamin Maclean, a strategic business development specialist within the food science sector (FrieslandCampina) with a proven track record of launching new products and building new dairy ingredients factories.

Before connecting with Cano-ela, Benjamin had mentored various startups already. “I really love startups. The entrepreneurial spirit and drive of startup founders is very energizing and ‘contagious’. And the vibes between Juliana, Alberto and myself have been exceptional good from the get go,” said Benjamin.

“Last summer we had a BBQ at my house, with self made plant-based burgers. This was a final confirmation of our joint passion for food innovation. It also was the moment that Juliana and Alberto asked me to join the team to accelerate Cano-ela’s growth.”

Benjamin MacleanJuliana: “As our startup mentor, Benjamin has provided us valuable strategic advice in combination with a big doses of enthusiasm for Cano-ela. He is a very enthusiastic person who is prepared to go the extra mile. After conversations about actions we should undertake, he immediately picks up his phone and starts organizing and getting things done.”

“Any business, but in particular startups, need people which such entrepreneurial aptitude. And, in addition to his professional input, we also have lots of fun together. It feels like the perfect basis to execute all our ideas.”

“Benjamin has all the expertise and connections to help make this dream come true!”

In the coming two years, Cano-ela is focused on upscaling its technology. In the meantime they will explore the possibility of building their own factory.

Juliana: “We understand this is a huge undertaking, which will also takes it time. But Benjamin has all the expertise and connections to help make this dream come true. And also his business development skills and ability to connect with people are very valuable to us. So it’s my greatest pleasure to announce here and now that Benjamin has accepted to becoming our Chief Commercial Officer!

Benjamin commented: “Finally, the word is out and I can start sharing this wonderful news with everybody. I am so proud and excited to join the Cano-ela team. Soon will also finish my Global Executive MBA at Copenhagen Business School, which will give me a lot more time on my hands.”

“I look forward to helping Cano-ela grow and fulfilling our shared ambitions to remove refined ingredients from the food supply chain! It feels great to be working on sustainable food solutions and contribute to the plant based protein transition!”

Greencovery powers up with Petra Vossenberg as Market Innovation Lead


In 2018, dr. Carlos Cabrera was following a postdoctoral study at Wageningen University & Research when he decided to start his own foodtech company: Greencovery. With this company he helps food manufacturers to upcycle their food side-streams to new high quality ingredients with the use of proprietary technology.

“Our technology allows food producers to unlock new value from their food side-streams whilst diminishing food waste, carbon dioxide and water consumption at the same time,” Carlos explains. How great is that!

In the fall of 2018, Carlos joined the first edition of StartLife Accelerate, which helped him get his company on track. Fast forward, in October 2020, StartLife introduced Carlos to one of its new startup mentors: Petra Vossenberg, a Wageningen University alumna and former Global Open Innovation Manager at FrieslandCampina who had just become a freelance innovation consultant. It turned out to be a match made in heaven, sort of speak.

Greencovery Team in Laboratory

Carlos was really happy to connect with Petra as his startup mentor. “Petra has been active in the food industry for quite some time already. She knows the industry really well and also how players in the market operate. She has a keen sense on finding new business opportunities and with her excellent people skills building partnerships is pretty much second nature to her. Thanks to her technical background she fully understands all the important processes and requirements involved in our upcycling business. That is so much more than I had bargained for.”

“We appreciated all the advice Petra gave us as startup mentor, but we also needed more hands-on support.”

After the three month initial startup mentorship ended, Carlos did not ask Petra to continue as his mentor but to truly join the Greencovery team and to take on the the role of Market Innovation Lead.

“We appreciated all the advice Petra gave us as startup mentor, but we also needed more hands-on support. Thanks to the mentorship, I knew that Petra had all the competencies needed to find food producers that are interested in upcycling their side-streams and also to find new applications to the upcycled ingredients. And, also, that she is a great person to work with. I would have been crazy not to try and get her become more involved,” said Carlos.

Rather than hiring Petra as an external consultant, Carlos wanted Petra to really become part of the team. “If Petra would be a hired consultant, our working relationship would have been project oriented and, as such, more detached. I want her to be involved for the long term and also create a setting in which we are more flexible further developing her role of market innovation lead.”

It’s not the first time that Carlos attracts corporate talent into his startup. Two years earlier, Carlos convinced Juan Cajiao, former Head of Growth at Twill-Maersk, to become co-founder and Commercial Director of Greencovery.

Petra VossenbergPetra is not surprised. “Carlos is an ambitious entrepreneur with a clear drive to make things happen. He has a lot of technical knowledge and his ability to generate new ideas is truly inspiring. Carlos is also pleasant to work with. He is open to thoughts and ideas, shares responsibility and gives a true sense of co-ownership.”

What does the future have in store for Greencovery? Carlos: “Thanks to Petra, we are now in advanced stages of conversation with a good pool of potential customers that are interested in our latest project which involves natural umami extracts. We have also set a clear dot on the horizon, which involves bringing our own first on-site implementations.”

And what about Petra? “It’s really rewarding to actively contribute to the valuation of side-streams and building a more sustainable food system. And I really like being part of the Greencovery team. We are in fact already talking about doubling my involvement,” Petra admits. Carlos shows a big, happy smile.

Magical formula?

It doesn’t happen every day that startup mentors become a staff member at the company of their previous mentees. It’s not something that StartLife strives for. Neither do we discourage it. What happens, happens. And if it helps accelerate the business of the startups, why not?

When writing this article, we did notice some rather interesting overlap between the two stories however. Two Latin-American entrepreneurs (Juliana and Carlos), who both studied at Wageningen University and have a Phd degree, successfully recruited their startup mentors, who both worked at FrieslandCampina, which has it’s R&D centre on Wageningen Campus. A coincidence or a magical formula? Who knows.

Want to know more about startup mentoring by StartLife? Check StartLife’s mentor program.

Note: Photos of Greencovery by Nils van Houts, edits by StartLife. Photos of Cano-ela by Mohammed Gharyeb.


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

Microalgae Milk Pioneer Sophie’s Bionutrients Sets Ground in Wageningen


Singapore-based Sophie’s Bionutrients introduced the world’s first milk alternative made from protein-rich microalgae earlier this year. With the support of StartLife, CEO and co-founder Eugene Wang now aims to shift the business to the Netherlands to tap into its plant-based protein ecosystem.

Algae-based ingredients have piqued food industry interest in recent years as a sustainable, animal-free source of protein, lipids and micronutrients. Traditionally grown in open ponds, they are extremely fast-growing and require few inputs – but Wang sees an even better way to grow microalgae for food, based on fermentation using various food industry waste as feedstock.

“Since I am trying to make it into foods, all I care about is the protein,” he explained. “I don’t care about the lipid. Since I am just caring about protein I can then use fermentation to increase production efficiency a lot, lot more. That’s how I stumbled on this technology.”

Exploring alternatives

With an MBA from Colombia University, Wang initially set out to become an investment banker, but soon realized it was not the lifestyle for him. Raised in Taiwan, in a family with a long-standing food business, he found inspiration from his daughter Sophie who was allergic to shellfish. In 2013, Wang started to investigate how he could tap into algae to develop seafood alternatives – and then discovered algae’s far broader potential. Sophie’s Bionutrients was officially launched in 2019, and the company introduced its milk alternative made from 100% microalgae in May this year.

“The more I researched it, the more I realized that this did not have be limited to plant-based seafood, this could be opened up to all kinds of applications,” he said. “I could make it into milk. I could make it into meat. I could even make it into a type of bakery protein flour.”

Wang says the microalgae milk alternative is just the beginning, and the company plans to expand into products like alternatives to yoghurt and cheese, as well as plant-based meat. He is already in talks with some major European dairy firms, and the company is looking for partners to help scale up production.

“There are going to be a lot of different kinds of protein flours we are going to develop,” he said. “For each functionality you’re talking about a different kind of protein isolation process, sometimes even a different kind of algae strain,” he said. “That’s why we need R&D collaborators.”

Following that, the company is also looking for commercial and manufacturing partners to expand from lab-scale to pilot-scale volumes.

European ambition

Wang’s business was given an early boost by Enterprise Singapore, which later connected him with the FoodValley NL ecosystem, based in Wageningen in the Netherlands. He then joined – and won – the MassChallenge Switzerland Sustainable Food Systems Challenge in spring 2021.

“Through this pitching competition I came to realize that most potential customers, partners and talented future employees for Sophie’s Bionutrients are in fact situated in Europe, rather than Asia or the USA,” he said.

“Europeans are more receptive to the environmental and health benefits of plant-based foods and are also willing to pay a higher price for novel and healthy food. No wonder that many relevant businesses and investors are situated in Europe as well.”

Food Valley: the heart of plant-based innovation

Eugene Wang of Sophies Bionutrients in his new office on Wageningen Campus.

Indeed, the Netherlands already boasts over 250 plant-based protein companies and it is a European research hotspot for alternative proteins and microbial fermentation for food production. Many of those companies are located in the Food Valley region, home to Wageningen University & Research, which has its own plant-based meat research lab and an algae production and research centre, AlgaeParc. Industry leaders like Unilever, Upfield and Vivera Foodgroup have made major investments in plant-based innovation in the region. NIZO, a research centre with the largest food-grade pilot plant in Europe, is also located in Food Valley.

“In all aspects, Food Valley is the plant-based industrial heart of Europe,” said Wang.

With this in mind, he applied for a place with the accelerator programme at StartLife, the Wageningen-based agrifoodtech accelerator.

“We were immediately impressed with Eugene and his technology,” said Laura Thissen, Operations Director at StartLife. “Sophie’s Bionutrients fits our agrifoodtech community perfectly. Alternative protein and algae-oriented startups are numerous here in Food Valley, including StartLife alumni like Phycom, Fumi Ingredients, and Time-Traveling Milkman. In fact, Eugene met us through one of our alumni, Willem Sodderland, founder of food startup Seamore, with whom he has partnered up.”

StartLife offered tailored support instead of a place in the all-inclusive 12-week acceleration programme.

Thissen said, “It’s not uncommon for us to provide fully tailored support. We can help him settle his business in the Netherlands and connect to valuable partners and interested investors.”

“StartLife quickly demonstrated to be well-connected in the agrifood space,” said Wang “They already introduced me to valuable industry connections in the region.” He added that together with Kadans Science Partner, StartLife also invited him to open an office in its incubator space on Wageningen Campus.

“After all I had learned about the region, and the many great connections made in this area in such a short period of time, this was an offer that I wholeheartedly accepted,” he said.

Open call for partnerships

Looking ahead, the company aims to establish itself as a Dutch entity, and to start manufacturing its microalgae-based products in the Netherlands. In the meantime, Wang is looking for partners to support the scale-up process, including those in research, regulation and manufacture.

“This is an open call to all parties in the Netherlands that might be interested, from fellow startups to corporates and investors,” Wang added. “I am looking forward to building the future of food together.”

About Sophies Bionutrients

Sophie’s Bionutrients, a B2B food technology company, is on a mission to unleash the limitless possibilities of nature, restore our planet and eliminate food allergies. It aims to achieve this by creating plant-based, protein-rich alternatives to meat and seafood using microalgae, the mother of all animal and plant life. In 2021 the company announced to be world’s first food tech company to use microalgae to develop 100% plant-based and sustainable alternative protein with the core vision that microalgae is the superfood of the future.

Header photo: Rik Creemers (Kadans Science Partner) and Laura Thissen (StartLife) hand over office keys to Eugene Wang (Sophie’s Bionutrients)

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

Muddy Machines Demonstrates Green Asparagus Harvesting Robot

Muddy Machines - Green Asparagus Harvesting Robot

Today, Muddy Machines, a UK agtech startup, announced that they have successfully developed a prototype robotic harvester for green asparagus, which they’ve named “Sprout”. Working closely with Cobrey Farms, the largest asparagus grower in the UK, Muddy Machines company has spent the last year developing and testing their machine on-farm.

Farms require a high volume of seasonal workers for a variety of tasks, primarily for weeding and harvesting. Asparagus is one of the most labor intensive crops as the harvesting occurs daily throughout the 12 week season. Picking asparagus is among the hardest and most backache-causing activities in farming, make it also hard to find workers to do the harvesting. Although green asparagus is a relatively small volume crop, Muddy Machines believes that it is most suited for robotic harvesting and is an excellent starting point before developing harvesters for more challenging crops.

Intelligent harvesting robot

That Sprout is a smart robot shows from the moment it leaves the farmer’s shed. The robot finds its way to the asparagus fields fully autonomously. Once arrived at the harvest field, it uses the latest in deep learning technology to detect and delicately pick asparagus spears according to grower’s specifications. The robot only picks mature spears, works in weeds and can even detect and harvest spears that are crooked, curved or malformed. The robot is lightweight and fully electric, avoiding damaging soil compaction and enabling a green, sustainable and resilient future for agriculture. To top it all off, the robot doesn’t experience any back pains.

Seeking additional funding


Muddy Machines was founded by Florian Richter (left) and Christopher Chavasse (right) amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the urgent request from growers to find a solution to their labor supply challenges. The company is backed by various venture funds, business angels and has won several Innovate UK grants. The startup is now seeking additional funding to bring an initial batch of robots to market in 2022.

Florian and Christopher currently take part in the fall 2021 edition of StartLife Accelerate. If you like to view Muddy Machines’ live pitch, you can register for StartLife’s (virtual) Graduation Day, on 9 December 2022.

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



Plant-E Receives €2.5M EU Grant for Development of Plant-powered Sensors


Wageningen-based company Plant-e was awarded a €2.5 million grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC). The grant was awarded for the further development of sensor applications that are powered by living plants. The EIC grant is the last push towards commercialization and scalability of its sensor applications.

The Plant-e team reacts enthusiastically. Marjolein Helder, CEO of Plant-e: “The grant enables us to speed up the development of the products and the team at the same time. Development of innovative technology in a changing market is challenging and it’s really helpful if someone tells you once in a while that you’re doing a good job. The competition for an EIC grant is high, less then 1 in 10 applications is granted. So receiving one is very rewarding, especially when the feedback you get is as positive as this.”

Plant-e Team 2021


Living plants as a sustainable power source

Plant-e was founded in 2009 as a spin-off company of the department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University & Research and received early support from StartLife. Plant-e develops technology in which living plants generate electricity.  Plant-e delivered several ambient lighting systems powered by plants since 2014. Since 2019 focus has shifted towards powering IoT solutions.

In 2019 Plant-e started developing sensor applications that are powered by living plants. This method enables monitoring of both urban and remote greenery. First focus is on soil-moisture and ground water level monitoring. By using living plants as a power source the use of batteries can be avoided, which improves sustainability as well as reliability of the sensor system. Batteries need (bi-)annual replacement and contribute highly to a growing amount of waste. Moreover, regular replacement of batteries is both capital and labor intensive. Plant-e can provide a sustainable and low-maintenance alternative through plant power.

Advanced technology of the future

Plant-e-Plant-based energy

The EIC jury praises Plant-e in their evaluation report: “The jury was impressed with the tenacity, durability and innovation of the company and its management team.” Plant-e’s technology was regarded highly as well. One of the evaluators of the proposal mentioned: “The generation of energy from plants is an advanced technology of the future. At the same time this method/product is even able to save CO2 while working, that’s a real novelty.”

The EIC-grant enables Plant-e to further integrate the supply chain and fully dedicate the plant-power source to sensor-applications. Next to that Plant-e will work on atomization and scale-up of production to reduce delivery time and production costs.


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

Orbisk Secures €2.4M In European Grant Funding


Today, food waste fighter Orbisk announced to be have received €2.4 million from the European Commission’s European Innovation Council (EIC). The company will use the funding for scaling up their business internationally and further enhancing the technology.

Orbisk is one of 65 companies that have been awarded a grant from the EIC Accelerator today. The ECI accelerator provides grant funding and investments to young companies to accelerate their development and scale up their cutting-edge innovations. Only top-class game-changers in the tech space are considered for the program. The EIC grant follows shortly after a recent 1 million euro seed funding round by Orbisk.

“It fulfills our dream of saving food at the scale of millions of kilos per year!”

Olaf van der Veen - CEO and Founder of Orbisk

Olaf van der Veen, CEO and founder of Orbisk, commented on the EIC grant: “All of us are honored to be acknowledged for our proprietary fundamental work. I’m beyond proud of the team for their effort and persistence, and our early stage clients for their trust in bringing the product to where it is today. In particular through the hardships all of us dealt with in COVID times. The support is pushing our company into the next stage where our technology can truly effectuate its impact at scale, fulfilling our dream of saving food at the scale of millions of kilos per year!”

Saving 100+ million kilogram food waste annually

Founded in 2019 with the support of StartLife, Orbisk is a startup that provides professional kitchens the ability to reduce their food waste stream by up to 70% with its fully automated food waste monitoring service. With the collected data, customers can adapt and optimize their entire food process, save thousands of kilos per year (worth tens of thousands of euros), and realize a net operating margin increase of 2-5% and over.

By making life easier, more sustainable, and more profitable for customers, Orbisk will be fighting food waste at scale, saving over 100M kilograms of food waste annually in professional kitchens by 2025.


Orbisk has won the EIC Accelerator pitch with a proposal under the acronym ‘Binspector’. Within the project, Orbisk will invest in the international scalability of operations and dynamic AI models for further increased accuracy and rapid adaptation in international cuisines. Also, further research and deployment of consumption prospecting algorithms will be put in place, creating a truly smart assistant that predicts the amount of food that needs to be purchased, alleviating the time-consuming and tedious daily task of purchase planning.

Meet Orbisk in Las Vegas or Amsterdam

Orbisk will be exhibiting at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas on 5-8 January 2022 as part of the Dutch trade mission that was also presented today; as well as at the Horecava in Amsterdam on 10-13 January 2022. If you’re there, make sure to pay them a visit. Of course you can also visit their website and set up an appointment.


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

StartLife’s New Neighbors: Fuji Oil Global Innovation Center Europe 


StartLife welcomes Fuji Oil Global Innovation Center Europe to Plus Ultra II, the multi-tenant complex and incubator on Wageningen Campus. It’s Fuji Oil’s first research center to open in Europe and will promote open innovation.

The Fuji Oil’s Global Innovation Center Europe (GICE) will support and enhance innovation within Fuji Oil Group, with a focus on plant-based foods and sustainable processing. This knowledge is combined with expertise in specialty oils and fats to innovate plant-based food solutions. The Fuji Oil Group operates worldwide and has multiple regional R&D teams. The center in Wageningen will be headed by Dr Liz Kamei, and the core team of experts will work on a range of collaborative projects. Using open innovation and external partnering to access innovative technologies complementary to their business.

In the heart of cutting-edge plant-based R&D

Fuji Oil chose to base their first Group-wide outside of Asia in Wageningen because of its thriving ecosystem of food innovation and research. They see Wageningen Campus and the surrounding Food Valley region as the perfect location for building a network of collaborators in the industry and academia to support their initiatives for innovation and growth. Dr. Liz Kamei says: ““The Dutch Food Valley region and Wageningen University are at the leading edge of technology developments in mild, sustainable processing and plant-based foods, which will be the main focus of GICE. ”

“Mild, sustainable processing and plant-based foods will be the main focus of GICE.”

Experts at the center will work with partners from academia and industry in consortia or one-to-one projects to identify, evaluate and speed up the deployment of new technologies that align with the Group’s ambitions to contribute to resolving social issues through the provision of sustainable, nutritious and delicious plant-based food solutions, a term that actually encompasses the entire business of the Fuji Oil Group, including the well-established vegetable fats and industrial chocolate businesses.

Plus Ultra II: Agrifoodtech community

Rik Cremers (Kadans) hands over office keys to Liz Kamei and Naoya Ikenaga (Fuji Oil)

Plus Ultra II, operated by Kadans Science Partner, offers office and lab spaces to startups, scale-ups and established companies and organizations that want to contribute to a vibrant community concerning agri & food and a healthy environment. On Wageningen Campus, knowledge institutions, the business sector and startups connect and exchange experiences. Any member of the Plus Ultra II community of can also benefit from the international network of the science parks and campuses of Kadans.

About Fuji Oil 

FUJI OIL Group is a global food ingredient manufacturer engaged in four key businesses: specialty oils & fats, industrial chocolate, emulsified & fermented ingredients and plant-based food solutions, which ranges from soy protein products to soy-based processed food products. With Headquarters in Japan, the Group has companies in 14 countries and employs nearly 6,000 talented people.  Ever since its founding in 1950, Fuji Oil has adhered to the conviction that its path to survival and advancement lies in cultivating new fields through application of its originality, without following the lead of other companies. It generated sales of 364.8 billion yen in FY2020.

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

InsectSense Wins Topsector Horticulture Innovation Prize 2021


Last week, Aria Samimi and his InsectSense team won the Topsector Horticulture Innovation Prize 2021. InsectSense received the award for its biosensor that integrates the smelling abilities of bees to detect plant diseases. 

The jury said:  “InsectSense harnesses the incredible sense of smell by real bees for the early detection of plant diseases. The method is fast, accurate, cost-effective and non-invasive. It can really help prevent significant economic losses in the agricultural and horticultural sector. Their solution is truly game changing and also very sustainable. It uses nature’s power to grow food optimally and sustainably: the help of nature to improve nature. For all those reasons, we like to support the further development of Beesense.”

€25.000 and a wild card

InsectSense received the award from Marije Beens, director-general Agro at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.  In addition to the prestige of the award, the company receives a knowledge voucher of €25,000. The voucher allows the company to further develop the concept and solve bottlenecks with the support of professors and students of Wageningen University & Research. InsectSense also receives personal support from a T&U innovation broker and is given a wild card to StartLife’s acceleration program.

Public vote winner: Thermeleon

With a record number of votes from the public, Startup Thermeleon received the audience award. This startup makes greenhouses more energy efficient by strategically re-using the excess heat during the day-and-night cycle, reducing CO2 emissions and energy costs for growers.  Thermeleon won a cash prize of €1,500 and a 6-month HortiTech Startup Membership with access to the network, knowledge and facilities of HortiHeroes and World Horti Center.


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

StartLife Joins FoodTech 500 By Forward Fooding


StartLife proudly supports the 2021 edition of FoodTech 500, the ‘Fortune 500’ of the FoodTech sector, an initiative by Forward Fooding. Together we will uncover the most promising and positive FoodTech disruptors of 2021. AgriFoodtech companies around the world can apply till 15 November to be considered for the coveted ranking.

CEO of Forward Fooding, Alessio D’Antino stated: “We created the FoodTech 500 to shine a light on the leading global innovators across AgriFoodTech, those who are creating powerful solutions to heal and transform our food system. We are thrilled to launch the 2021 edition of The FoodTech 500 to reveal the companies that will become global mainstays. And we are delighted to have StartLife on our side as partner.”

FoodTech 500 winners gain access to a global network of industry stakeholders including Fortune 500 F&B companies, investors and advisors. “In addition to the prestige granted from the ranking,  applying for FoodTech 500 is a relatively easy way for startups to find out how their business scores against other startups in the food & agriculture industry,” says Bram van Beek, StartLife’s Marketing Manager.

Most innovative AgriFoodTech players globally

Applications are subject to a rigorous review. Company are ranked based on a scoring system devised to capture the true pioneers within the sector, which includes the following three scoring elements:

  1. business size,
  2. digital footprint and
  3. sustainable practices

The 2020 edition of the FoodTech 500 (download report) attracted some of the most innovative AgriFoodTech players globally including Plenty (USA), which has raised over $500 million in venture funds – Too Good To Go (UK), which engaged 6 million people in their food waste efforts and NotCo (Chile), which has surpassed a $1.5B valuation with its last round. The list obviously also contains a long list of innovative agrifoodtech startups, including StartLife Accelerate alumni Orbisk (SLA F18), Evja (SLA F19) and Sphera Encapsulation (SLA F20) to name but a few.

Why apply for FoodTech 500?

✓ Applying takes less than 10 minutes and is completely free.

✓ Companies that rank in the FoodTech 500 gain access to a global network of industry leaders including Fortune 500 F&B companies, Food Tech VCs, business angels, and other institutional investors.

✓ The FoodTech 500 provides a platform for engagement, networking and global visibility.

✓ It’s a great opportunity to become part of a vast community of FoodTech industry stakeholders and get powerful press coverage by renowned media including Food Navigator, Sifted and AgFunder.

Apply before 15 November 2021

Startups can apply now for a chance to rank amongst the top 500 FoodTech companies in the world! Application deadline is 15 November 2021, subject to early closing once 2,000 applications are received.

The full list of winners will be announced in March 2022.

Apply for FoodTech 500 ’21 Edition

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

NIZO And StartLife Join Forces: Innovating Together For Better Food And Health

Partnership Nizo-StartLife logos

Today, NIZO, a Contract Research Organization in Food and Health, and StartLife announced that they have entered into a strategic and operational partnership to support food and agtech startups shaping a sustainable food system. Thanks to a blend of accelerator expertise and facilities, the strategic partnership can help startups with both individual challenges and longer-term plans.

A food revolution

People are increasingly looking for food choices with demonstrable health benefits that don’t unduly harm our planet. For many, that means turning more to plant-based foods – the so-called protein transition. Yet fast-paced modern lifestyles mean that they still want food to be quick, simple and convenient. Both for startups as well as existing manufacturers, there is growing commercial pressure to show they are minimizing their environmental footprint by reducing energy consumption, water usage and (packaging) waste. But amid all this change, one fact of food production remains constant. If it doesn’t have the right look, (mouth)feel and, above all, taste – it won’t sell.

This is where the partnership between StartLife and NIZO comes in. Together, they provide startups with promising solutions, and the facilities and services needed to get their products market-ready.

Leading innovation from laboratory to large scale production

Loet Rammelsberg, Program Director StartLife: “StartLife believes that startups are a very important force behind the agrifoodtech innovations required to meet global food demand in the future. But bringing an innovative food product from a small lab scale to large scale production is not an easy feat. Once a technology proves successful on a small scale, the technical feasibility and economic viability of large-scale production also need to be verified . And if it is, what is the best way to do it? Together with NIZO, we can help startups find answers to these critical questions.”

“Bringing an innovative food product from small lab scale to large scale production is not an easy feat.” 

NIZO helps food and health startups innovate to meet changing consumer demands in food and health. Their multidisciplinary development and pilot production plant enables their customers to quickly and successfully bring new food products to market.

NIZO and StartLife: end-to-end support

In the past ten years, StartLife has provided business development support and funding to more than 400 early-stage startups, propelling breakthrough technologies in the domains of food and agriculture. “With the largest pilot plant in Europe for third-party use and suitable for food-grade processes at close distance to StartLife, we are really pleased to have entered into a strategic partnership with NIZO,” says Rammelsberg.

“Our combined expertise ensures startup have all the know-how available to save time and money in food innovation.”

Ben van der Deen, Business Development Manager NIZO feels the same way. “A holistic view is something that we at NIZO specialize in. We have the expertise to support startups throughout the entire process of bringing a new food products to market. The combination of StartLife’s business development support and NIZO’s expertise in getting from R&D to market introduction ensures that startups have all the know-how available to save time and money in food innovation. This ensures that all levels of innovation are science-based and fully verified to meet fast market introduction.”

Proof of the pudding

Corjan van den Berg, CEO and co-founder of FUMI Ingredients, a young  Wageningen University of Research spin-off company, already benefits from this new partnership. He explains: “In previous years, we successfully developed a proof-of-concept technology that allows animal-based ingredients to be replaced with a high-quality alternative made from brewery yeast residuals.” With animal-based proteins currently being the most important ingredient in food products, this plant-based technology may replace the need for a large amount of animals, reduce food waste and lower carbon dioxide emissions by 95 percent. “StartLife helped us build a strong business case. And now, with the support of NIZO, we are further developing and upscaling the technology to a large-scale pilot. And the results are looking really promising.”

Van der Deen: “It is a pleasure working with Corjan and his team. We believe that their solution has huge potential and are fully committed to helping them succeed. Together with StartLife, we look forward to supporting more such promising startups and helping make a difference.”

About Nizo

NIZO’s wide-ranging expertise as a Contract Research Organization helps customers successfully address their food and health challenges: from managing the protein transition or delivering real health benefits to maintaining food safety and scaling up to industrial production. Through multidisciplinary teams and a unique pilot production plant, we bring all the expertise together to deliver cost and time-to-market savings.  And we can provide support through the entire innovation process; from R&D to (pilot) production. For additional information, please visit:


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

StartLife Picks 9 Startups Building Toward Sustainable Agriculture

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

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

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

Smart and novel agrifood technologies

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

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

Identifying all-star startup teams

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

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

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

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

Live virtual pitching event on 9 December

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

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

StartLife Welcomes FUMI Ingredients To Startup Office

Founding Team of FUMI Ingredients

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

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

Agrifood ecosystem

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

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

Plus Ultra II

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

On Wageningen Campus, knowledge institutions, the business sector and startups connect and exchange experiences. Additionally, any member of the community of Plus Ultra II can also benefit from the international network of science parks and campuses of Kadans.


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

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


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

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

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

Supporting entrepreneurial ingenuity

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

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

Smart agrifood technologies

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

About Future Food Fund

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


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

Food Waste Monitor Orbisk Raises €1.05M Seed Funding

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

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

2.1 billion tons food waste

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

Investors double down their stakes

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

*Source: Catalyze Group


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

WUR Remains Best Agricultural University Worldwide

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

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

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

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

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

How to connect your startup with WUR?

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

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


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

Vacancy: Program Coordinator at StartLife

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

About the position

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

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

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

What we ask from you

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

What we offer you

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

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

About StartLife

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


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

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


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

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

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

Highly scalable nanotechnology

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

Unique delivery

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

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

Founder Story: Hudson River Biotechnology


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


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

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

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

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

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

Next generation B2B fat ingredient provider

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

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

Accelerating protein transition

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

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

Support by Food Valley ecosystem

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

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

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

How To Build And Recognize An All-Star Startup Team

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

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

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

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

Let’s briefly examine these elements one by one.

1. Complementary: be more than a collection of people

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

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

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

2. Complete: all pieces of the puzzle fit together

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

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

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

3. Compatible: one soul, one mind

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

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

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

4. Cooperative: teamwork makes the dream work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vitamin C for your agrifood startup team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Of Food Texture Challenge Program

The experience for the startups will be as follows:

  • Stage One – Pitch

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

  • Stage Two – Pilot Program

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

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

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

Each startup will:

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

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

Eligibility Criteria

Givaudan is looking for foodtech startups with the following profile:

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

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

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

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

Call For Startups That Accelerate Sustainable Innovations In Horticulture

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Awards ceremony

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

About IMPACT2025

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight on innovators

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

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

Fund partners

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

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

StartLife Links Agrifirm To Innovative Agrifoodtech Startups

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

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

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

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

Test, enhance and scale

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

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

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

About Royal Agrifirm Group

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

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

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

Discover Why These Agrifoodtech Startups Will Change The Future Of Food

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

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

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

Impact-driven agrifood startups

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

Meet the startups

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Yili Innovation Center Europe: gateway to Asia

StartLife and Yili team members

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

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

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

Calling innovative agrifoodtech startups

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

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

About Yili

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Agrifood Startups

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

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

Sustainable food systems

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

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

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

Impact investing

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

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

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

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

Shaping the collaboration

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

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

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

Yield Lab Europe Expands Agrifood Fund And Partners Up With StartLife

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

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

Decarbonizing agriculture and food

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

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

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

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

In the heart of Food valley

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

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

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

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

About Yield Lab Europe

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


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


Surfix’s Biophotonic Diagnostic Platform Attracts €8.5M Investment

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Free Research Capacity: Wageningen Student Projects

Wageningen Students working on Consulting project

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

Interdisciplinary Consultancy Team (8 weeks)

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

Student backgrounds:

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

Practical information

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

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


Product Quality Literature Research (4 weeks)

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

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

Practical information

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

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

Contact Education Project Service

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

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


Döhler Ventures and StartLife Boosting Healthy Nutrition Innovation

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

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

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

Going above and beyond

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

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

In for the long run

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

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

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

About Döhler Ventures

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


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

StartLife Welcomes Time-travelling Milkman And Innogusto In Startup Offices

Plus Ultra II on Wageningen Campus

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

Time-travelling Milkman: sustainable fat ingredients

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

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

Innogusto: plant-based protein

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

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

Plus Ultra II: vibrant agrifood community

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

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

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

StartLife Partners With Leading Agricultural Manufacturer, Kubota


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

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

Collaboration: overcoming present and future challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding an ecosystem of expertise

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

Global Partnerships Manager at StartLife, Caroline Bijkerk, comments:

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

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

About Kubota

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


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