Spain FoodTech accelerator helps scale 3D printed plant-based steak, fermented protein & mycelium burgers
28 Jun 2021 --- Food-tech accelerator Eatable Adventures recently inaugurated the first cohort of Spain FoodTech, its main start-up program. Showcased at the corresponding investors’ demo day event were realistic 3D printed plant-based steak, protein creation through fermentation and mycelium-based burgers.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, José Luis Cabañero founder and CEO at Eatable Adventures, shares his insights on how each of the top five start-ups were able to rapidly scale after six-months of a high-performance acceleration program.
“Spain is coming out as one of the leading countries in food-tech in Europe and even on a global level; the market has developed significantly in the past few years and is having enormous momentum,” he remarks.
“Corporations are getting on the agri-food-tech wandbagon with innovative programs to support a symbiotic relationship with the most promising start-ups.”
Abunda mycoprotein through fermentation.Indeed, start-up-driven food-tech has long presented an attractive business proposition to industry’s heavyweights. Unilever, for instance, recently partnered with food-tech company Enough (formerly 3F BIO) to produce
“The early success of talented entrepreneurs developing new products and disrupting technologies that are already competing internationally – like Heura, Nova Meat, Biotech Foods and Cubiq Foods – is attracting new entrepreneurs that are willing to join in this ecosystem,” Cabañero continues.
Role of big businesses in scaling food systems
The agri-food sector plays a strategic role in the Spanish economy, accounting for 9.2 percent of GDP and 11.9 percent of employment, while experiencing a revolution in the application of technology with more than 400 active food-tech start-ups.
“The collaboration model between start-ups and corporations is the fastest way for both to reach the market in the shortest period of time,” comments Cabañero. “It’s a win-win relationship in which the start-ups learn how to commercialize the product and the corporation is betting on a new generation of products.”
Food-tech start-ups are exploring the direct-to-consumer market as an initial commercial channel, because it fosters the closeness to the brand without the need for intermediaries. “It’s a great way to test products and cut out all the middlemen of the traditional distribution,” notes Cabañero.
“But the traditional retail model is still required to scale businesses. In the case of ingredient start-ups with a B2B business model, they have no choice as their clients are big food companies.”
Eatable Adventure’s Spain FoodTech Startups Program is supported by the National Center for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA) and ICEX, Spain’s government arm for export and investment.
Attracting more than 200 start-ups
At a recent investors’ demo day for the first cohort, five start-ups showcased their progress after a six-months high-performance acceleration program.
More than 200 start-ups applied for the first edition of Spain Foodtech, including foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish their headquarters in Spain from other countries.
The five selected start-ups – Cocuus, H2hydroponics, Innomy, Moa foodtech and Proppos – have received a personalized acceleration plan with access to the technological support of CNTA, focused on achieving technological development and consolidation.
During this period, these five companies’ business models were reinforced and evaluated. In addition, their technological applications were reformulated and tested. They also received assistance in setting up a proper go-to-market plan and were supported in their search for funding.
All these efforts have resulted in a boost for the start-ups valuation, which has been multiplied by more than six times, with an average valuation of €7.5 million (US$9 million), which is reflected in the resulting funding rounds.
Distinguished concepts within the cohort
Hyper realistic 3D printed plant-based steak, protein creations thought fermentation, mycelium based burgers, check out technologies and hydroponic vertical and indoor farming are the five disruptive technologies highlighted by the program.
“The first two things that we evaluate are market potential and uniqueness of the value proposition,” says Cabañero.
“Several of the Spain Foodtech start-ups are disruptive at a global level, they are already getting solid traction with leading international investors and corporations,” he continues. “They have managed to generate amazing intellectual property which is having a strong social impact.
“It is a quantitative and qualitative success, and the value of the start-ups has multiplied by 6.3 during the program.”
The top five start-ups within the cohort are:
- Cocuus: Created its MimETHICA platform, designed for large-scale bio-printing of plant-based products analogous to recreate animal protein, from steaks to salmon sashimi.
- Proppos AI: Applies artificial intelligence and computer vision to offer an unattended Point of Sale solution for foodservice.
- Innomy: Specializes in a range of animal protein substitute products based on the cultivation of mushroom mycelium.
- H2hydroponics: Designed and operates hydroponic vertical farming and indoor farming facilities in the most extreme climates. It has launched Atlantic Farms, a concept of local and technological production, which will “revolutionize the fourth range salad sector” by implementing a sustainable production model in the same communities where it is consumed.
- MOA Foodtech: Combines biotechnology and artificial intelligence to convert waste and by-products from the agri-food industry into a 100 percent sustainable next-generation protein’ with a high nutritional value.
Growing the food-tech ecosystem
The Spain Foodtech program is run annually. Applications for the next cohort are currently open for the 2022 edition.
Eatable Adventures is one of the three main global food-tech accelerators, with more than 20 corporate programs launched, a deal flow of 1,400 global food-tech start-ups each year and operations in three continents.
It has built a global network of partnerships with incubators, accelerators, foodtech and agritech events, academia, investors and governments.
Among recent developments, Eatable Adventures lent its support to Spanish dairy specialist Pascual to launch what is positioned as the first global incubation program for cellular agriculture technologies in the dairy industry.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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