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Three startups storm to victory at FoodBytes! by Rabobank in London

November 8, 2019

Remember, Remember! The 7th of November!

That fateful night saw 15 agri-food tech startups set the room aflame and astir with quick-fire pitches to FoodBytes! by Rabobank in London.

These were they:

As AFN reported in the build up, only three could waltz away with a prize. And facing them, the daunting stares and frosty questions of industry players, investors, and executives.

To triumph, these fifteen start-ups – selected via these criteria – had just 3 minutes to make their case. Their stone-faced judges were Solveiga Pakstaite of Mimica, who is a former winner; Adam Anders of Anterra Capital; Kirsty Macdonald of JamJar Investments; Great British Chefs Founder Ollie Lloyd; and Nick Fereday, Executive Director of Food & Consumer Trends at Rabobank.

So, who won?

For those not avidly watching in the audience or via the livestream, the big picture insights to glean from this would be how plant-based proteins and personalised nutrition were both presented as leading trends — all in response to more consumers now looking into healthier options and eating a more sustainable diet. With a critical need to eliminate single-use plastics and remove unnecessary packaging, a number of startups proposed next-generation, sustainable packaging solutions; others said they were finding ways to address the world’s food waste issues and make use of materials already in circulation. Accelerating agricultural development, the agtech startups addressed everything from increasing crop yield to improving supply chain efficiency with smart technology and AI, bringing to light the real future of farming.

Judge’s Choice: Zero Waste Biotech

Zero Waste Biotech won the Judge’s Choice Award for the development of their Aero-D machine which is able to convert food waste into clean, renewable energy, enabling a circular economy. Speaking to AFN with a glowing smile during a reception of lotus seeds, shrimp burgers and borrago non-alcoholic cocktails, the CEO and founder of Zero Waste Biotech Stephen Beck outlined his company’s next steps from here, including trials at fast food restaurant chains, and potentially even disaster zones and refugee camps. “We know it works because we’ve tested it religiously,” said Beck. “We would love to be able to work with humanitarian organisations; as a thought experiment, we know it would work,” he said, describing his technology as a “magic box.”

People’s Choice: Redefine Meat

Redefine Meat won the People’s Choice Award for their animal-free meat created via 3D printing technology. The start-up was hailed for their ability to retain a similar appearance, texture and flavour to animal meat, while using sustainable and natural plant-based ingredients.

When one attendee asked if they had any tasters, Redefine Meat co-founder Adam Lahav replied that “it’s not like candy,” explaining that preparation and serving it was still an intricate process. It has been served in Switzerland, Germany and Israel, he said, but no tasters so far in the UK.

“You will really be sure you’re eating meat when you eat it,” he assured the attendee.

“Highly Commended: Lleaf 

Lleaf won the Highly Commended Award for their luminescent light emitting agriculture films that optimises the sunlight in greenhouses to increase crop yield. LLeaf CEO and co-founder Dr. Alexander Soeriyadi, picked up the prize, telling AFN that he has company has just done trials with “a beneficial result; we got increased yields of up to 40 percent.”

“Plants need different light for different times,” he said, explaining how greenhouse farming can gain from finetuning sunlight to fit with specific moments in a plant’s  life cycle.

“The solutions we have seen here at FoodBytes! today really adhere to our long term vision to feed the world sustainably with game changing ideas.” said Rabobank Europe CEO Tamira Treffers-Herrera.

“FoodBytes! really caters to the need for startups and corporates to connect in the food and agriculture industry. By merging the two, there is significant scope to innovate with cross-collaboration and bring the inspiring and original ideas from entrepreneurs to the next level.”

Since launching in 2015, 280 startups have pitched on the FoodBytes! stage, more than 1900 startups have applied from 70+ countries and more than 5,000 people have attended events in Europe, North America and Australia.

This latest FoodBytes! London 2019 was supported by official sponsors Compass Group, Saputo Dairy UK (formerly Dairy Crest) and Coca- Cola European Partners Ventures, along with supporting sponsors Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), DLL, Berry M&H and Watson Farley & Williams LLP.

This batch of winners will get to pitch and network at Rabobank’s European Advisory Board Meeting in France in April 2020; they will receive 8 hours of tailor-made mentor sessions with Rabobank specialists.

In addition, they will get business consultation services from FoodBytes! sponsors, including branding and legal consultation and go-to-market advice.

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