Health Food Wall is the winner of the 5th Top Sector T&U Innovation Prize, co-powered by StartLife, with smart refrigerators that offer healthy, sustainable takeaway meals. Power of Plants won the audience award. According to the jury, the winners succeeded in developing an innovation/solution that demonstrably contributes to healthier eating and living. The award ceremony took place during the T&U Innovation Day in Wageningen.

Health Food Wall‘s smart refrigerators for public spaces make it easy to choose better ready-to-eat plant-based options 24/7: healthier, fresh, and sustainable. The contents of the vending machine are based on data from sales. According to the jury, the wall’s smart technology makes healthy choices not only tasty, but also faster and easier: you open the door with your debit card, grab whatever you’re in the mood for and automatically pay the right amount. A digital process then starts up in the background: not only to ensure new supply, but also to intervene to prevent food waste by discounting meals.

Health and wellness

According to jury chairman Harrij Schmeitz of Topsector Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen (T&U), it was difficult for the jury to decide because all the nominees had a special, non-comparable innovation.

“For this edition, we chose a theme that focused on the opportunities for the Horticulture & Starting Materials sector at the interface with health and wellness. The startups and TUx pitchers showed that there are plenty of opportunities. As Top Sector T&U, we need to pay even more attention to this.”

Harrij Schmeitz of Topsector Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen

Health Food Wall will receive a knowledge voucher worth €25,000 to further develop the innovative solution together with Wageningen University & Research and solve any bottlenecks. They will also receive tailored guidance from a T&U innovation broker and get a wildcard for our StartLife à la Carte program, a tailored support program for AgriFoodTech startups.

Power of plants

The audience award was for Power of Plants, an initiative in which horticultural companies and research institutes work together to select plants with medicinal properties, ultimately making extracts from them that can be used as medicines or antibiotics. The public prize consists of guidance from a T&U innovation broker and participation in the HortiHeroes Startup Program with access to network, knowledge and facilities through HortiHeroes and the World Horti Center.

Japanese knotweed

This year, for the first time, a prize was also awarded for new ideas still in the mind: the TUx pitches. There, Witte van Cappellen walked away with the prize. He pitched an idea for alternative use of Japanese knotweed to prevent chronic Lyme. He wins tailored guidance from a T&U innovation broker and an innovation workshop to further develop his idea with companies.

“The Top Sector T&U Innovation Prize gives starting entrepreneurs a stage to present themselves to the sector and thus to potential customers/partners. Thanks to coaching and mentoring beforehand and guidance by an innovation broker afterwards, the winners can realize their ambitions much faster.”

Michiel Roelse, Operational Director of TKI TU

Inspirational Visits and Talks

In addition to the award ceremonies, the Innovation Day allowed visitors to taste innovation during visits to the Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Centre (NPEC) and Unilever’s Foods Innovation Centre (HIVE). There were also inspiring talks by Cathy van Beek, president of the GroentenFruit Huis, on food horticulture and health and by Marc van Rosmalen, director of the Association of Horticulturists (VHG), on the opportunities of trees in working landscapes and business parks of the future.

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