Tag Archives: Alumni

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

Fish farming has become an increasingly important part of the food supply – but there are major flaws with the range of treatments available for aquatic pests and diseases. Now, a team of biotech entrepreneurs is taking a radical new approach to solve one of industry’s biggest problems. Sundew is an early-stage biotech company that aims to provide safe alternatives to treat waterborne pests and diseases, especially those that affect aquaculture.

The company was founded about two years ago, after its chair and co-founder Neil Goldsmith came across an intriguing biological technology to control the common fish parasite ich – also known as white spot disease – on the Danish IP Fair website. A few months later, he and three other high-profile biotech entrepreneurs formed Sundew, and gained a worldwide exclusive licence to commercialize the technology.

Sundew - Company Visual

“There’s nothing fundamentally novel about treating diseases in water, but we are finding a different way of doing it,” said co-founder Andy Gardiner. “That is the huge unmet need – doing it better.”

Indeed, there is an enormous need for chemical-free solutions, and Sundew claims its technology provides just that: a natural compound that eliminates risk for industry and consumers alike.

With more than 20 years’ experience in launching biotech startups, Gardiner comes from a financial and commercial background, rather than a life sciences one. In early 2018, he and Goldsmith had set up a company called Double Bio. Goldsmith had recently stepped down after 13 years as CEO of the specialty health and nutrition biotech firm Evolva, and they were looking for a biotechnology venture they could help bring to market. This was it.

The technology platform is a naturally occurring bacterium produced via fermentation to control ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) in freshwater fish. Developed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), it needed some business savvy and a significant cash injection to introduce on an industrial scale.

“We had already talked about setting up a business that could deal with environmental diseases,” Gardiner said. “This gave us a focus.”

The problem

Aquaculture has been growing at about 6-7% a year for the past 30-40 years, according to FAO figures, far outpacing growth in other food production sectors. The value of world trade in fish and fish products has grown from $8 billion in 1976 to $143 billion in 2016. However, there are challenges that come with such rapid growth, and safe, effective disease control is one of them.

“The solutions that are currently on the market are not ideal in many ways,” Gardiner said. Some treatments for controlling ich on food fish, such as malachite green, are only approved for use with ornamental fish as they pose risks to human health. At the moment, Formalin (made with formaldehyde) is one of the only widely approved treatments, but it is hazardous to handle and not easy to apply.

“It’s technically banned in Denmark , but the industry still has a special licence to keep using it because there’s no other option,” said Gardiner.

In May 2019, Gardiner attended the F&A Next event in Wageningen where he spoke with StartLife’s Program Director Loet Rammelsberg. Rammelsberg encouraged him to apply for the StartLife Accelerate program, and in September, Sundew was selected. So far it has secured €35,000 under the scheme, with a further €50,000 in the pipeline. In addition, it was awarded a grant of €780,000, under the Danish government’s Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP).

Scaling up

For now, Sundew is far from commercial scale, still working at petri dish level, but it is working to bring production up to at least kilogram-scale so it can provide quantities suitable for industry testing.

“We need to get to tonne-scale before getting this on the market,” said Gardiner. “There is a very high degree of confidence that we can get the product up to where we need it to be over the next three years.”

But controlling this one parasite is only the very beginning.

“We have a single molecule at the moment that we know works on more than one disease,” he said. “Our first thing is to screen that molecule against other similar parasites and see where else we might have an effect. Apart from that, there are a whole lot of other, smaller molecules that could treat things in a similar way.”

Further down the line, the team intends to tackle some of the problems that affect conventional agriculture, and even human health, also using biological approaches.

“Beyond aquaculture, in terms of diseases carried in water, there’s human diseases like cholera and malaria, nematodes, which are a problem for cattle, and red tides [algal blooms that release harmful toxins].

“There’s currently no good solution for that, and possibly we could find things that work.”

For any application, the product will need to be environmentally benign, scalable and reasonably cheap.

Asian aspirations

Apart from the company’s four co-founders, and a researcher who was hired using funds from the Danish grant, a freelancer is working to building a network for Sundew in China.

“Ideally, we will find a good partner in China in the long term, at least for distribution,” he said.

The Chinese market is a major target. It has by far the world’s largest aquaculture production , and freshwater fish like carp, eel and catfish dominate its seafood market.

“Because of the structure of the aquaculture market for freshwater fish, Asia is particularly important to us,” Gardiner said. “Major animal health companies see this as their primary need in China…All freshwater fish farms will have ich as a risk. You can imagine a very well-run farm where they can keep this out, but anything that’s drawing water from natural sources is likely to be affected by it from time to time.”

When it comes to regulation, the company is looking at global routes to market for treating food fish, as well as ornamental fish, for which the regulatory path may be faster.

“We are at the start of a long road,” Gardiner said. “We have no real doubts that it’s likely to take us three or four years to get through the regulation that will allow us to sell this really broadly to the aquaculture market.”

Despite the challenges ahead, he is optimistic about the company’s potential.

“We are never going to be short of waterborne diseases and needing solutions that work well,” he said. “Being the company that deals with aquatic diseases, that’s our long-term vision.”

 

Hello Sundew

In the 40-seconds video below Andy Gardiner gives a brief introduction to Sundew and explains why he joined the StartLife Accelerate Fall 2019 program.

 

 

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.

 

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).