EIT Food Innovation Prize supports agrifood start-ups

EIT Food Innovation Prize start-ups

The Competition supports start-up with funding, mentors and pitch training. 

Identifying and supporting the agrifood start-ups of the future

EIT Food’s Innovation Prize Competition 2019 is a pan-European start-up competition with an EUR 15 000 prize fund that supports early-stage agrifood start-ups disrupting the agrifood system to make it healthier, more sustainable and more trusted.

In this article three winners of the 2018 Innovation Prize Competition, Bio-F Solutions, Biokind, and ORBEM share, how each of their businesses has grown since the six months from receiving the awards.

Improving food together with the 2018 start-up competition winners

Laura de Arroyo Garcia and Marine Valton from Bio-F Solutions are developing sustainable biofertilisers, based on algae for agriculture. Max Swinscow-Hall is a microbiologist and Director of BioKind, a start-up that turns crop waste into a natural and sustainable protein for aquaculture, livestock and pets. Pedro Gómez is the Co-founder of ORBEM, an AI-powered business whose non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology is aiming to prevent the unnecessary killing of billions of one-day-old male chicks in the poultry industry.

The three reasons to get involved with EIT Food’s start-up and entrepreneurship activities: 

  • Being part of a community with a shared mission.

We wanted to apply as our aim, to create sustainable proteins, was also fully aligned with EIT Food’s mission to transform the food system. 

Max Swinscow-Hall, BioKind

  • Exposure and connections to an influential food network.

The EIT Food team is very knowledgeable in the food entrepreneurship space, so being part of the Innovation Prize event gave us ‘insider’ knowledge as well as connected us to key industry players. This has really helped us to focus our efforts as a business.

Marine Valton, Bio-F Solutions

  • Valuable early-stage funding.

ORBEM is still self-financed so winning the competition was a great way to keep developing our technology and moving forward without having to resort to Venture Capital (VC) funding, which we weren’t looking for at that stage of our development.

Pedro Gómez, ORBEM

How to invest start-up funding to accelerate business growth

Whilst the 2018 winners have invested their cash prizes differently, all start-ups have seen rapid change since winning the Innovation Prize Competition.

BioKind this has been about employing the services of a patent attorney to confirm that they were not infringing on any global copyrights, as well as investing in R&D in order to get more data and unlock private investment. BioKind is currently looking to attract seed-funding to allow them to scale-up their technology to a pilot production plant and bring them closer to providing sustainable sources of protein for aquaculture feed.

Bio-F Solutions had immediately earmarked their prize money for a specific period of growth. Since the EIT Food Prize competition, Bio-F Solutions have gone on to win runners-up position at WE Innovate, Imperial College London’s flagship female entrepreneurship competition and have started to scale-up production for in-house trials. They are currently looking for funding to build a pilot plant and unlock field trials in partnership with farmers.

Taking a radical approach, Pedro Gómez had set a truly audacious goal for ORBEM’s prize fund:

We wanted to turn EUR 10 000 into EUR 1 million! By investing the money from EIT Food we were able to conduct a large-scale study, which led to us being selected to compete in the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE and finally to us receiving a seven-digit grant from the EXIST Transfer of Research fund. This money has allowed us to make great progress towards building our first prototype, so with EIT Food’s support our dream to create a sustainable future is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Pedro Gómez, Co-Founder of ORBEM

ORBEM and BioKind have also graduated to EIT Food’s Accelerator Network (FAN), a pan-European programme to help develop high-impact agrifood start-ups and maximise both their societal and financial success. The EIT FAN is just one of many ways that we are helping entrepreneurs and start-ups on their journey to transforming the future of food.

Five reasons to join the EIT Food Start-up Community

  1. Access to an unparalleled network: access to, and collaboration with, our expert network of industrial and academic Partners, as well as potential customers and distribution channels. 
  2. Enhanced European reach: we have a presence in every country in Europe and beyond, helping your business reach new markets and develop internationally. 
  3. Backing from a powerful brand: as the designated EU body to transform Europe’s food system, you will benefit from our powerful brand, making your business more attractive to investors and customers. 
  4. Increased visibility: access to best-in-class agrifood and entrepreneurship events, both in Europe and globally. 
  5. Long term support: support and training in innovation, investments and business development for as long as you need it.

Meet ‘The Future Ones to Watch’ at the EIT Food Innovation Prize Competition 2019

If you’d like to meet EIT Food's next cohort of start-up hopefuls and discover the latest start-up agrifood innovations, then come along to the next Innovation Prize pitch day on 6 September in Aarhus, Denmark, during the Aarhus Food festival (DK Food Week)