All posts by Bram van Beek

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

Rabobank-StartLife Extend Partnership May 2020

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

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

First European platform for startups and investors

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

Agrifood startup nursery

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

Added value to startups

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

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

Royal Cosun Opens Doors For Innovative Agtech Startups With StartLife

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

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

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

Sharing R&D facilities and coaching

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

Making a difference together

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

About Royal Cosun

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – April 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members

1) NGS Secures Convertible Loan Of 250k euro From LIOF

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

NGS plus 500 euro biljetten

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

2) Epinutra Collects 150k euro Subordinated Loan From Rabobank

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

Epinutra plus euro biljetten

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

 

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

StartLife StartLife Pre-seed Fund

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

 

4) GreenFood: breakthrough fractionation technology for quinoa

StartLife community member since 2014

Greenfood50 quinoa
(c) GreenFood50

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

Read the full press release.

 

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

 

Klasmann-Deilmann Extends Corporate Partnership with StartLife

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

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

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

Innovation community

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

Finding horticultural talents

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

Stirred, not shaken

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

 

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

 

StartLife Becomes Partner Of EIT Food

Logos of Partners EIT Food and StartLife

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

Building bridges

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

Shared agenda

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

About EIT FOOD

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

Logo EIT FOOD with EU flag

 

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

 

Wageningen University & Research Joins International Foodshot Global Network

Foodshot Global

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

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

Ecosystem approach

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

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

Foodshot Global Competitions

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Next Heroes in FoodTech 2020

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

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

Next Heroes in AgTech 2020

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

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

Impact of the Coronavirus on the agrifood industry

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

Join F&A Next Live Webinar for free

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

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

 

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

100 Million Euro Bridge Financing for Dutch Startups

Emergency fund piggy euro coins

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

Emergency fund for acute financial aid

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

The company

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

Broader support package

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

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

Corona startup support portal

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

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

Dutch Largest Impact Investment Fund for Early Startups Is Launched

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

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

Impact investment fund for early stage startups and scale-ups

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

Close cooperation with technical universities, TNO and RVO 

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

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

Smart money

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

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

Successful investments

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

Reliable address for early phase financing

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

9 New Agrifood Startups Prepare To Tackle Global Challenges

Logo-sheet StartLife Spring 2020 Cohort

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

Meet the StartLife Spring 2020 cohort

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

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

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

Record number of applicants

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

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

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

StartLife Alumni Updates: March 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members

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

StartLife alumni / community member
Cholesterol

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

2) Mylium opens laboratory on Agro Business Parc

StartLife community member
Mylium Team and Leather Wallet

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

3) Finalists AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant (AIEG)

Finalists of AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Award AIEG 2020

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

 

Catalyze and StartLife Partner Up to Maximize Funding for Agri-food Startups

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

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

The right mix

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

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

Moving mountains

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

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

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

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

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

Natural egg white replacers at lower costs

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

Turning research into a game changing business

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

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

Ready to hit the market

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

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates: January 2020

Greats news about alumni and community members of StartLife.

1) PreMal Introduces New Mosquito Trap Model

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

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

2) Zero FoodWaste Launches Finished Food Waste Monitor

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

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

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

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

StartLife community member since 2014

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

 

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

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

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

Make a true impact on the future of Food and Agriculture

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

16 most promising startups

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

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

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

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

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

 

StartLife and BDO continue collaboration to support Food & Agri startups in the Foodvalley

Rachel Dibbets of DBO and Jan Meiling signing partnership agreement

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

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

Gateway to partners

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

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

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

Growing number of ambitious companies requires more intensive cooperation

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

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – December 2019

Greats news about alumni and community members of StartLife,

1) Zero FoodWaste First to Raise Revenue-based Capital

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 cohort


Photo: Non-Dilutive Capital

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

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

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

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

3) FUMI Ingredients Reaches Innovation Award Hattrick

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

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

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

member of StartLife community since 2019

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

 

StartLife Presents Seven New AgriFood Challengers

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

Pressure Cooker

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

‘Farm to Fork’ network

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

Graduation Day

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

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

Open call to next agri-food challengers

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

Graduation Day - StartLife Accelerate Fall 2019

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

 

Limagrain Enters into Partnership With StartLife

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

Fulfilling global food needs

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

Innovation and scouting partner

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

Opening doors for startups

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

About Limagrain

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

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

Unilever Opens Global Foods Innovation Center Next Door To StartLife

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

The Hive

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

Next door neighbor

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

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

Enriching regional entrepreneurial spirit

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

Free Research Capacity: Wageningen Student Projects

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

Product Quality Literature Research (4 weeks)

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

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

Practical information

The course is given from February 17th to March 15th. For commissioners, participation in the course is free. Due to the participation of international students, the project will be executed in English. The commissioner is expected to have contact with the students during a kick-off meeting, and throughout the project to give feedback and expertise.
Interested? Please contact Jelle van Leeuwen by December 13th 2019 at the latest. (See contact information at the bottom of this page.)

Interdisciplinary Consultancy Team (8 weeks)

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

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

Practical information

The ACT course is organized five times a year (Sept. – Oct., Nov.-Dec., Jan. – Mar., Mar-Apr, May – July). Due to the participation of international students, the project will be executed in English. An administrative fee of 50 euros applies. In addition, you are to reimburse expenses such as travel expenses, printing costs, etc. of the students. If you are interested to learn more about this opportunity, please contact Jelle van Leeuwen. (See contact information at the bottom of this page.)

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

Contact Education Project Service

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

Jelle van Leeuwen
Project Leader Education Project Service at Wageningen University & Research
jelle.vanleeuwen@wur.nl
T: + 31 317 485 314
www.wur.nl/onderwijsloket

 

Personalized Nutrition Planning Platform Verdify Has Launched

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

Effortless nutrition planning

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

Verdify: a smart, personalized nutrition planning platform

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

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

Scaling up fast

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

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