With over 740,000 agricultural companies, 330,000 catering businesses, 70,000 food industries, and 4 million workers, the Italian agri-food market ranks as the 3rd largest in the European Union. In 2023, it generated more than 65 billion euros, equivalent to 3.8% of the total Italian economy.

It is therefore not surprising that many new entrepreneurial ventures are emerging, aiming to rejuvenate such a strategic sector for Italy. Currently, there are approximately 340 startups active in the Agri-Foodtech sector. In Italy, this market received investments totaling 167 million euros in 2023, compared to 152 million the previous year, reflecting a growth of 9.8%.

In this scenario, the first Italian Report on the state of Foodtech by Eatable Adventures was born, promoted by the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub, the first development hub of the Italian Agrifoodtech ecosystem supported by Fondazione Cariverona, UniCredit, Eatable Adventures, Municipality of Verona, Veronafiere, Confindustria Verona and University of Verona.

In the analysis, startups are the focal point of a survey that unveils the geographical and morphological distribution of startups and provides an updated overview of investments in the sector in 2023.

The identikit of Italian Foodtech startups: Northern Italy, agile teams, and pink quotas

The North undeniably dominates the landscape of startups in Italy: approximately a third (30.5%) are based in Lombardy, closely followed by Emilia-Romagna (11.1%), and then by Piedmont, Veneto, and Lazio, each contributing around 10%. Additionally, 50% of the total startups were established between 2022 (25.3%) and 2023 (22.8%). This trend initiated in 2018 (7.6%) and has experienced a notable surge since 2021 (19.1%), reaching its peak in 2022. This increase is not only attributed to the growing interest in utilizing innovation to address the significant challenges of the agri-food supply chain and shifts in consumption patterns but also to the emergence of ecosystem support initiatives and new investment tools for burgeoning companies.

Looking at the composition of the startups, compact teams of 1 to 5 employees account for approximately 69% of the sample, with up to a maximum of 6-10 employees for 13% of them. These companies boast an average age of 35.6 years, reflecting agility and a potential for further development over time. Notably, female talents play a fundamental role, with as many as 32% of the startups founded by one or more female founders. This statistic is particularly significant considering that the national average of female entrepreneurs is only around 10% of the total, while those with mixed teams do not exceed 16%. This observation not only underscores the presence of women in key roles within the food technology sector but also suggests that the industry holds a particular appeal and actively involves female quotas.

The must-haves of the sector: focus on production, food processing, brands, and patents

In their analysis of the Foodtech landscape in Italy, Eatable Adventures has classified startups into four distinct categories: Agritech (technologies applied to agriculture), Food Production & Transformation, Retail & Distribution (applied robotics, retail analysis platforms, new sales channels, etc.), and Restaurant Tech&Delivery (booking and management platforms; kitchen robots, etc.).

The startups in the Italian Foodtech sector are primarily concentrated in Food Production and Processing (36%), followed by Agritech (22.3%), Restaurant Tech & Delivery (22%), and Retail & Distribution (19.6%). Nearly half of the startups (43%) in Food Production and Processing focus on developing new products with innovative ingredients. Among Agritech startups, 33% have focused on creating new cultivation systems or crop automation systems (31.5%)

Another notable finding is that 66% of the sampled startups develop their technologies internally, without relying on collaboration with third parties. Only 12% of startups cooperated with universities, 2% with technological centers, and 13% with other external companies. This suggests that approximately 70% of startups demonstrate a high level of autonomous development, underscoring their strong technological maturity.

Among the most utilized technologies, artificial intelligence emerges as predominant, employed by 42.86% of the surveyed startups, closely followed by machine learning at a rate of 37.14%, and biotechnology at 32.38%.

To protect  the intellectual property of their innovations, a crucial factor in ensuring competitiveness in the market, over half of the startups (54.3%) incorporate trademark registration into their business model. Additionally, 40% own at least one patent, while 19% rely on trade secrecy.

Investments in Italy: the state of the art

On a global scale, investments in Foodtech experienced a significant decline in the second quarter of 2023, plummeting by approximately 61% compared to the previous year. This downturn can be attributed primarily to geopolitical conflicts and the widespread economic crisis impacting all sectors. However, amidst this challenging landscape, the Italian market stands out as one of the most dynamic and resilient, recording a remarkable 9% growth compared to 2022. In 2023, Italian startups managed to secure 167 million euros in funding, with 43% allocated to the seed phase and 32.3% to the pre-seed phase. This substantial investment underscores the confidence of both national and international investors in the growth potential of the Foodtech segment within Italy.

Furthermore, among the prominent investments in Italy, notable are the training programs backed by companies like CDP Venture Capital Sgr and Eatable Adventures, which launched Foodseed, the first national accelerator in the Italian foodtech sector. In 2023, Foodseed selected and accelerated seven emerging Made in Italy companies, providing an initial investment of 170 thousand euros to each participant, with the potential for further increments of up to 500 thousand euros for the top performers. This pioneering program garnered interest from key industry partners, including Amadori and Cattolica, the Business Unit of Generali Italia, who supported the initiative.

Additional resources that could facilitate the development of the startups, as reported by those interviewed, include attracting international investors, receiving support from the Italian food industry, participating in international events, gaining knowledge of best practices, and streamlining access to public assistance. 

“Italy is working increasingly hard to provide innovative responses to the pressures of climate change, the energy crisis, and the supply of raw materials. The objective is to improve the global competitiveness of the Bel Paese and maintain its primacy in food and wine excellence at a global level”, declares José Luis Cabañero CEO and founder of Eatable Adventures. “There are more and more initiatives involving food companies, startups, universities, and technology centers, supported by important investors. Italy aims to preserve and strengthen its competitiveness and is ready to embrace innovation with determination to shape a sustainable, efficient, and dynamic food future.”

Download the report here.

Eatable Adventures has presented the data from its annual study “The State of Foodtech in Spain 2023”. The Foodtech accelerator has presented the fourth edition of this report, which reflects the reality of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this area and the evolution of the investment received throughout 2023.

The challenges linked to problems related to climate change, the exponential growth of the world’s population, and the increase in costs associated with food production continue to drive the development of new disruptive technological proposals that seek effective solutions to these challenges. In a global panorama affected by a deep crisis, the Spanish Foodtech ecosystem is positioned as one of the most dynamic, maintaining a census similar to last year, with 420 startups in 2023.

The Foodtech sector in Spain exhibits a notable geographical distribution with a presence in all the Autonomous Communities. Despite this dispersion, clear patterns are observed in entrepreneurs’ preferences for launching their projects. Madrid leads with 34.2%, experiencing an increase of 6.6 percentage points compared to the previous year. Catalonia continues in second place with 30.3%, reflecting an increase of 4.6 points. On the other hand, Andalusia registers a slight decrease of 2% with a total of 9.1%.

Food production and processing leads the way over other categories

In 2023, Spanish startups experienced changes in the distribution of categories. Agritech, which makes up 21% of the startups surveyed, experienced a decrease of 3%. On the other hand, the Food Production and Processing category leads with 41%, representing an increase of 6 percentage points compared to the previous year, driven by the growing demand for innovations in food production. The Retail and Logistics field (13%) has experienced a decrease of almost 12 percentage points compared to 2022. This change could indicate a redirection or reclassification of startups traditionally associated with distribution and logistics towards Delivery. The Restaurant Tech and Delivery sector (25%) shows continuous growth in technology related to restaurants and deliveries, absorbing part of the startups that were previously classified in the Retail and Logistics category.

When breaking down into subsectors, in the field of Agritech, the three main categories experienced a reduction, favoring segments such as robotics and water management, which showed slight growth, however, crop automation systems continue to be the preeminent area. Regarding Food Production and Processing, there is an increase of 10.5 percentage points in the creation of new products with innovative ingredients, which suggests that startups are responding to the growing market demand for more innovative foods. In the retail sector, there is a growth of almost 8 percentage points in smart labels, while new sales channels decrease in favor of the increase in analytical platforms. Regarding the Restaurant Tech sector, management platforms maintain their leadership, closely followed by online marketplaces and startups specialized in delivery.

The startups have small teams, a prominent female representation, and preserve their technology with trade secrets

When analyzing the composition of startup teams, the study indicates that they are characterized by smaller teams compared to the national average, with 60% of surveyed startups having a team of 1 to 5 employees. As for female representation, it is noteworthy that 36% of surveyed startups have a woman as a partner, a very positive figure considering the national average, which is only 18%.

The technological development of a startup is undoubtedly one of the most relevant aspects for its success. According to the study, 28% of surveyed startupshave at least one patent, and 35% use trade secrets, representing a 5 percentage point increase from the previous year. Regarding the most used technologies, biotechnology stands out, experiencing significant growth since 2022.Regarding technological maturity (TRL), it is highlighted that the majority of startups demonstrate a considerably high level of development, indicating a strong position in technological terms. Despite this success, the challenge arises to maintain constant innovation to remain relevant in a competitive and ever-evolving environment.

Slowdown in global investment: Spain emerges as one of the most resilient ecosystems

The current geopolitical context and the economic crisis have had significant repercussions, in terms of investment at a global level, in all sectors. Regarding Foodtech, global investment reached approximately 27.4 billion euros in 2022. When comparing the second quarter of 2022 with the same period in 2023, a drop of 61% is evident, falling from 5.9 billion dollars to 2.3 billion dollars.

In the Spanish context, a more encouraging scenario is seen despite a slight reduction in total investment. Spanish Foodtech startups managed to secure a total of 226 million euros in 2023, representing a decrease of only 16% compared to the previous year. However, this slight drop, much more moderate than the global slowdown trend, points to the strength and resilience of the ecosystem at the national level.

Regarding the investment phase of startups, stability is observed in the pre-seed and seed rounds, indicating the continued attraction of the sector for national and international investors. In 2023, startups in the seed phase were the majority, representing approximately 38.9%, followed closely by pre-seed phases, which constituted around 29%.

Among the main national investors, Capsa Vida stands out, which has supported baïa, entomo agroindustrial, GrinGrin, and nucaps; BeHappy Investments, which has opted for Harbest Market and Hunty; and Clave Capital, which has invested in Deep Detection and Groots. Eatable Adventures has consolidated its position as a prominent investor in Spain, supporting Bio2Coat, mmmico, and Néboda, all of them accelerated in the Spain Foodtech program. On the other hand, the Spanish ecosystem also continues to attract the attention of prominent international investors, such as ProVeg Incubator, North South Ventures, Big Idea Ventures, and Bynd Venture Capital, among others.

When analyzing the most outstanding tools for growth, startups are aligned: learn from the best success stories, facilitate access to public aid, increase media visibility, establish “co-investment” agreements, and collaborate closely with the food industry.

 

“In the year 2023, the Spanish Foodtech ecosystem has overcome critical challenges, facing the repercussions of the global economic crisis. Despite the slight slowdown in total investment, this period has marked a crucial milestone for the sector. We have not only witnessed the resilience of our ecosystem but also the consolidation and market launch of disruptive technologies, as has been the case of the arrival to the Retail channel of the first 3D bio-printed vegetable bacon by Cocuus and Foody’s. This achievement highlights the technological robustness of Spain, reaffirming its prominent position in the international Foodtech field,” commented Mila Valcárcel, Managing Partner of Eatable Adventures. To continue consolidating Spain’s strategic role in the Foodtech panorama, however, a greater drive in investment and more strategic collaboration between all the key agents of the food system is needed “If we want to be truly competitive against the most developed international ecosystems We need to be more ambitious and have a vision of the future of this sector that is so strategic for Spain. It is essential to put greater effort into investment and collaboration with the industry, but also to have greater support at the institutional level and to have a strategy aligned between territorial and national initiatives.”

For more information, download the report here

 Seven Italian startups have been selected for the 1st edition of the FoodSeed Accelerator, a program focused on innovative food technologies, part of the CDP Venture Capital National Network. FoodSeed was launched in March 2023 to promote excellence and innovation in the Italian agri-food industry, with the support of promoting partners and co-investors such as Fondazione Cariverona, UniCredit and Eatable Adventures, among the main foodtech accelerators on a global scale, with the contribution of corporate partners Amadori, Cattolica Business Unit of Generali Italia, Axxelera, Veronafiere and the scientific partner University of Verona.

 

After screening over 250 applications, the 7 startups presented concrete solutions to the main challenges affecting the food industry, at a national and global scale. The projects, showcased on the Demoday on November 13th in Verona, are ready to bring to the market solutions with a strong positive impact on the Italian FoodTech and Agritech sectors: from “non-chocolate chocolate” to prevention systems against water stress, to advanced fermentation via sound waves and the creation of organic products capable of extending the shelf life of products.

 

Every startup received an initial investment of 170.000 euros – with the possibility of increasing up to 500.000 euros for the best performers – and benefited from a 6-month acceleration program to consolidate their business proposal.

 

Foodseed also offered a coaching and mentoring program that supports startups in building relationships and networking from an Open Innovation perspective. This aims to foster collaboration between these new enterprises and existing traditional entities, making it easier for them to find investors who believe in the importance of innovation to address crucial sustainability challenges in the food sector, the beating heart of the Italian economy.

 

  • 1. Foreverland: The chocolate of the future on Italian tables

Foreverland introduces a revolutionary, sustainable, and Made in Italy alternative to the market: chocolate without cocoa. In response to the challenges posed by deforestation, water stress, carbon emissions, CO2 consumption, and the exploitation of over 1.5 million children in the chocolate industry, Foreverland addresses this pressing issue with Freecao. This breakthrough in the confectionery sector uses carob, a legume typical of the Mediterranean region and one of Italy’s major producers. By leveraging reverse engineering, enzymatic treatments, and fermentation and roasting techniques, Freecao significantly reduces environmental and social impact, supporting our system, lessening the issues on cocoa cultivation, and aiding local businesses in the sector. Freecao achieves an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 90% decrease in water consumption compared to traditional cocoa production. This alternative is free from the top 9 allergens, including milk and tree nuts, it is gluten-free, caffeine-free, and avoids the usage of artificial ingredients. Furthermore, it contains 50% less sugar than traditional milk chocolate, making it a healthier choice for consumers.

 

  • 2. Enhancing pasture well-being: Regrowth and remote livestock monitoring

The lack of adequate tools for extensive livestock farming management and the inadequacy of available products have brought Regrowth to the forefront. Hailing directly from Teramo, Regrowth introduces a Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) tool for extensive production farms, allowing farmers to monitor their farms. Regrowth offers a system capable of reducing animal losses by approximately 60% through early disease identification. Concerned about pasture well-being? With specific protocols, Regrowth can detect overgrazing caused by poor herd and pasture management. Moreover, their protocols aim to stimulate increased soil biodiversity, CO2 sequestration, water retention, and much more. To facilitate communication about livestock management, Regrowth makes farm data transparent and protected by anti-tampering protocols. The Regrowth team is currently adapting its system for intensive farms to ensure optimized management and monitor animal well-being levels.

 

  • 3. Water stress and water waste: Soonapse to the rescue

Amidst climate change, water waste, and the lack of innovative means to help farmers understand soil health, the agricultural sector seeks assistance. Soonapse, a startup based in Rome, has developed the first Decision Support System (DSS) specifically designed for IoT. This Dual AI system interprets climate change and provides forecasts with 99% accuracy, enabling farmers to optimize water usage and more. By combining contextual information with events (data collected from sensors, drones, and satellites) and predictions, Soonapse can predict water conditions in any soil/crop for the next 5 days. This involves Smart or Precision Irrigation, a predictive model that considers all crops, offering advice on the best cultivation based on seasonality. Currently, no technology guarantees this level of precision. With experience in the wine sector, Soonapse is extending its technologies to serve oenologists, allowing them to improve production quality through agricultural process control.

 

By 2030, Italian (National Action Plan) and European (from Farm to Fork) regulations will reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50% and increase the agricultural area cultivated with biological tools by 60% compared to today. Unfortunately, the market lacks sufficient products capable of protecting plants and replicating common phytosanitary agents, both in terms of effectiveness and cost. The agricultural market, therefore, needs an alternative with the same efficacy and comparable costs. Directly from Udine, Agreen Biosolutions proposes a solution to aid the transition to more sustainable agriculture: ozonized oil with a variable concentration of ozone, to be applied in agricultural fields, ensuring a preventive and/or curative effect. This certified “tonic” oil, with biostimulant and phytosanitary effects, eliminates the use of chemical pesticides and provides significant cost savings for farmers. A uniquely valuable product capable of stimulating and protecting crops.

 

  • 5. From farm to fork: Trusty advocating Product traceability transparency

To ensure transparency in the food supply chain, Trusty offers industrial traceability services in environmental, social, and corporate governance domains. The Pescara-based startup has developed a blockchain-based platform with a customizable dashboard for each industry. The system can integrate information from authorities and issue traceability certifications. Trusty follows the entire life cycle of food products, from Farm to Fork, providing reliable and accurate information to stakeholders about the origin, quality, and safety of products. The startup’s services align with certain regulations, such as the European Deforestation Free and Smart Label standards. A traceability system like this can address various issues related to food safety and monitor emissions of pollutants during production. Starting with long and complex supply chains such as Cocoa, coffee, and other tropical products, the startup can genuinely contribute to building trust between consumers and producers for a more sustainable food system.

 

  • 6.  Extending product shelf life: AgreeNET

Addressing food waste, a major issue in the food chain, safeguarding our raw materials, and supporting Italian exports that significantly contribute to the national GDP, AgreeNET proposes an innovative, biologically based, and biodegradable material for food packaging. AgreeNET has conceived a POD to insert into product packaging. Emitting natural substances normally produced by plants to protect against pathogens, the POD can extend the shelf life of products by up to 20 days, helping food producers resolve or mitigate the issue of food waste.

 

  • 7. Hypesound: Advanced fermentation through sound waves

What if sound therapy could benefit the industrial sector? The idea comes directly from Perugia: Hypesound, the startup selected by the acceleration program, has developed So’Sweep, a device that reproduces sound waves for advanced fermentation. It can accelerate the growth of microorganisms, increasing production by up to 300%, thus reducing time and costs. Currently, Hypesound is focusing on optimizing algae production, especially Spirulina and Chlorella. Still, the technology’s applications extend to the entire biotechnology sector.

 

The acceleration program has also had a strong resonance in the rest of Europe, especially in those countries where the food sector already collaborates with industry innovation: 5% of the received applications come from Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Switzerland. This data not only is unsurprising but further validates the inclusive nature of FoodSeed and emphasizes the general interest in safeguarding Italy’s role as a gastronomic excellence worldwide. An acceleration program capable of attracting new talents that can bring a breath of innovation to a sector that, although excellent, remains deeply rooted in tradition.

 

FoodSeed will select, every year, for three consecutive years, up to 10 startups capable of building ecosystems and value synergies that bring innovation to the entire sector for a more sustainable Italy. The call for startups participating in the 2nd edition of FoodSeed will open in February 2024.

 

The concept of the circular economy stands at the forefront of sustainability, with a mission to curb waste and optimize the use of existing resources. It’s about “closing the loop” on various elements, like products, services, waste, materials, water, and energy. Unlike the linear economy, the circular economy introduces a nonlinear model that champions reuse, recycling, and regeneration. This innovative approach aims to slash waste generation and alleviate the strain on our natural resources. The circular economy isn’t just about bolstering environmental sustainability; it’s a catalyst for economic efficiency by sparking business opportunities around product revaluation and responsible resource management.

In the food sector, the circular economy translates into cutting down food waste across the entire chain, from production to consumption. It encourages repurposing byproducts and transforming waste into valuable resources, such as creating compost or harnessing energy. Local production models and regenerative agriculture take the spotlight to shrink our environmental footprint. Additionally, the sale of imperfect or soon-to-expire foods is promoted, combating premature disposal. In this paradigm, consumers become key players, making informed choices to minimize waste within their homes.

 

The Shift to Circularity – Why is the linear economy undergoing this transformation toward circularity?

The answer lies in the pressing environmental and economic challenges that have arisen from the linear model’s disregard for sustainability. The circular economy offers a promising solution, advocating for efficiency, longevity, and the preservation of vital resources. It is an acknowledgment that a thriving society hinges upon a holistic equilibrium with our planet.

 

Key Principles of Circularity

At the heart of the circular economy lie four guiding principles: reduce, reuse, recycle, and regenerate. These principles converge to challenge the traditional linear production-consumption paradigm and pave the way for a circular shift, where the value of products and materials is extended through sustained use.

  • Reduce: A conscious effort to use resources more judiciously, curtailing the excesses of production and consumption.
  • Reuse: The revival of objects for their original function or other purposes, essential to the circular economy’s mission of multiple lifecycles for products.
  • Recycle: A transformative process that turns waste, raw materials, and byproducts into fresh products, reintegrating them into the cycle of utility.
  • Regenerate: A commitment to rejuvenate natural resources and ecosystems, restoring balance by replenishing what has been utilized.

 

5 Startups: Pioneering Circular Practices and Innovations

MOA

MOA FOODTECH

MOA, is a Spanish forward-thinking startup, that embodies circularity by up-cycling food by-products through innovative methods. Functioning as a B2B platform, they leverage food by-product valorization using optimized fermentation, aided by their in-house artificial intelligence tool.  They use food production waste and by-products as essential resources for their fermentation process, introducing a novel protein source abundant in nutritional value while significantly minimizing resource consumption. Leveraging biotechnology, they craft sustainable ingredients that optimize the efficiency of protein generation, showcasing a commitment to eco-friendly production methods. This process not only curtails waste but also champions sustainable ingredients that substitute animal and plant-based proteins. By reintroducing these ingredients into the food chain, MOA reduces both resource extraction and the environmental repercussions of food industry waste. Their approach underscores their commitment to circular principles by repurposing materials, using cutting-edge technology, and contributing to a healthier planet.

 

Agrain

Agrain

Agrain is a Danish startup that embodies circularity through its innovative approach. The company uses untapped resources, specifically brewer’s spent grain, to create everyday products. This spent grain, which is a by-product of beer and whisky production, is collected from Danish organic microbreweries, thus reducing waste. The production process involves transforming the raw brewer’s spent grain into flour through a gentle and sustainable method that emits 36% less CO2 compared to traditional organic wheat flour production. By repurposing this grain that would otherwise go to waste, Agrain not only provides consumers with delicious and sustainable options but also addresses food waste and environmental concerns. This innovative circular model showcases the potential of turning a once-discarded resource into a valuable contributor to a more sustainable future.

 

orange fiber

Orange Fiber

Orange Fiber is an Italian startup championing circularity through its innovative approach to textiles. By using citrus fruit waste, known as “pastazzo,” which constitutes a significant portion of fresh fruit weight after juice extraction, the company transforms this waste into yarn and fabric. This circular process not only mitigates waste but also contributes to a more environmentally friendly future for the textile industry. The startup’s focus on a transparent supply chain, trademarked products, and a dedicated community of sustainable fashion enthusiasts further reinforces its commitment to circular principles. By creatively repurposing waste into valuable textile materials, this startup demonstrates how circularity and AI technology can harmonize to shape a more eco-conscious and sustainable textile industry.

simpliroute
SimpliRoute

SimpliRoute is a Chilean startup implementing circularity through the integration of AI technology to reshape logistics operations. By optimizing delivery routes and enhancing operational efficiency, the startup simplifies processes and enhances delivery outcomes for businesses globally. Their mission to democratize logistics intelligence aligns with circular principles by making sophisticated solutions accessible to companies worldwide, fostering a more streamlined and sustainable delivery ecosystem. With a strong commitment to innovation, SimpliRoute is not only transforming logistics but also contributing to the evolution of a smarter, more efficient, and globally connected industry

 

Aroundrs

Aroundrs

Aroundrs is an Italian startup driving circularity in the realm of food packaging by harnessing smart, reusable containers to combat the prevalent use-and-throw culture. Through its innovative app, Aroundrs offers a solution to the environmental impact caused by single-use food packaging. Their containers, which are suitable for various needs including take-out and delivery, are designed for up to 200 uses before recycling. This embodies the concept of circularity by extending the lifecycle of each container and drastically reducing waste. The startup envisions a future where waste is non-existent, and materials are endlessly reusable. By transitioning from the linear purchase-consume-pollute model, Aroundrs is pioneering a cultural shift towards a sustainable and circular food packaging approach. This transformation reduces the carbon footprint while ensuring convenience for both businesses and consumers, echoing the principles of a circular economy

 

In conclusion, the circular economy represents a paradigm shift that holds immense potential within the food industry. Departing from the linear approach, this transformative model emphasizes resource efficiency, waste reduction, and innovative reuse strategies. By redefining the trajectory of products and materials, the circular economy fosters a more sustainable and resilient food ecosystem.

Through the exploration of innovative startups, we’ve witnessed the tangible impact of this approach. From turning food waste into valuable resources to promoting local production and reimagining supply chains, these startups are redefining what’s possible within the circular food economy. By embracing the principles of the circular economy, they not only tackle pressing environmental challenges but also carve out new avenues for economic growth and societal progress.

 

The food industry has been seeing a significant shift in recent years with the rise of foodtech startups that are using robotics to revolutionize various aspects of the food industry. From automating farming processes such as planting and harvesting, to cooking and delivering food, these startups are leveraging the latest advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence to improve efficiency, food safety, and the overall customer experience.

Research indicates that the global food robotics market is expected to reach $4.97 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2020 to 2026. These numbers reflect the increasing adoption of robotics in various areas of the food industry such as agriculture, food processing, packaging, and food service.

Automation, with its capacity to relieve workers of tedious and repetitive tasks, enables them to channel their focus and time toward more crucial responsibilities that necessitate higher levels of critical thinking. For instance, in agriculture, automation can play a pivotal role by improving crop yields, enhancing efficiency, and mitigating labor costs.

Similarly, within food processing, robots emerge as valuable assets, capable of managing hefty loads, thriving in demanding environments, and executing tasks with impeccable precision. Moreover, the food service sector is witnessing a notable surge in the adoption of robots to tackle various duties, ranging from cooking and food preparation to the final stages of delivery.

 

 

CAFE X

CafeX

Cafex Technologies is a foodtech startup that uses robotics to improve the food service industry. They have developed an autonomous robot called “Cafex” a cutting-edge, fully automated robotic system that crafts delicious hot and cold beverages within an enclosed kiosk. The menu is extensive and includes a wide range of options, from classic coffee drinks to unique blends such as matcha, teas, and juices. It can take orders, serve food, and even clean up, which can greatly improve the customer experience and free up staff to focus on other tasks. 

Bear Robotics

Bear Robotics

Bear Robotics is a foodtech startup that utilizes robotics to improve the restaurant industry. They have developed a robot called “Penny” that can take orders, serve food and even clean up, which can greatly improve the customer experience and free up staff to focus on other tasks.  

They have distributed over 5,000 of its Servi food service robots, which transport food and beverages from the kitchen to tables using multiple trays, and have formed alliances with well-known companies in the industry such as Denny’s, Chili’s, and Pepsi.

Starship

Starship Technologies

Starship Technologies is using autonomous delivery robots to revolutionize local delivery. Delivering items such as groceries, food takeaways, and packages, Starship now operates in over 30 locations across the world.

Launched in 2014 by Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, they now have delivery robots completing tens of thousands of autonomous deliveries every day. Autonomous delivery is no longer a future concept – and they believe robots are vital in solving last-mile delivery challenges. In total, Starship delivery robots have completed over 5 million autonomous deliveries – the first and only robot delivery company to do so!

 

Savor Eat

SavorEat

SavorEat is a foodtech startup that creates meat alternative products using a combination of robotics, 3D printing technology, and non-GMO plant-based ingredients. The company’s chef robot creates and cooks meatless products according to customers’ preferences and uses proprietary 3D printing technology to create different textures that replicate meat. 

SavorEat aims to provide a plant-based alternative that has the same taste, texture, and experience as meat and is tailored to customers’ specific tastes, diets and lifestyles. The company’s innovative approach to meat alternatives promises to change the way people think about plant-based products and provide a healthier and sustainable alternative to traditional meat.

 

Small Robot Co

Small Robot Company

Small Robot Company is an ag-tech startup that aims to make food production sustainable through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence. They have developed a system of small robots that can plant, tend, and harvest crops with precision, which not only increases efficiency but also reduces the need for human labor.

They invented a new approach called “Per Plant Farming” which involves using autonomous robots to collect data on each individual plant and using that data to gain insights at a field scale. This approach can help farmers build a detailed picture of crop health. Their autonomous mapping and monitoring system is named “Tom”, digitizing the field, locating every single plant, and providing a robust farming machine that is lightweight and reduces soil compaction.

 

To sum up, the food industry is seeing a significant shift with the rise of foodtech startups that are using robotics to revolutionize various aspects of the industry. These startups are leveraging the latest advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence to improve efficiency, food safety, and the overall customer experience. These innovations have the potential to greatly improve the food industry and provide a sustainable and efficient solution for the future.

In today’s health-conscious world, companies are continuously developing new and innovative ways to meet the growing demand for better beverages. From energy-boosting drinks to those that promote relaxation, there are tons of options available. 

In this article, we will explore startups that are making beverages that are disrupting the bev-tech industry, each with its unique blend of natural ingredients and functional claims. Whether you are looking to boost your protein intake, unwind after a long day, or stay focused during a busy schedule, these drinks offer something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and learn more about them.

 

ful

FUL

FUL has introduced a sparkling blue drink made from spirulina, a superfood that offers a range of health benefits. Spirulina has proved to support immunity, provide energy, reduce inflammation, hydrate the body, and enhance brain function. The low-calorie drink is made from natural ingredients and contains no caffeine. It is packed with nutrients and is equivalent in nutrition to healthy foods such as apples, blueberries, broccoli, yogurt, coconut water, almonds, spinach, and carrots. FUL’s spirulina is a complete plant-based protein that includes key amino acids for strength and contributes to normal immune function, iron absorption, bone and digestive health, food-to-fuel conversion, and muscle and nerve function.

 

pepe mate

Pepe Mate

Pepe Mate is a soft energy drink that is healthy and sustainable. It offers a natural source of energy thanks to the use of yerba mate leaves, which naturally contain caffeine and release much more smooth and sustained energy without the highs and lows of other energy drinks. The drink is made from just three natural ingredients: mate, lemon juice, and stevia. It is also  100% ecological, containing zero sugars and zero calories, and provides 40mg of natural caffeine in each can. The production of Pepe Mate is local and artisanal, supporting the economy and offering quality products.

 

vetz

Vetz

Vetz is a captivating and authentic Italian bitters startup that takes inspiration from tradition and infuses it with exotic notes, all while using natural ingredients—no fakes here! With a careful selection of 22 botanicals, VETZ offers a rich aroma boasting Cedar, Gentian, Hibiscus, and Nutmeg. Delight your taste buds with a full-bodied blend of Camomile, Cassia, Elderflower, Orange, and Vanilla flavors. This delightful beverage, with its amber and golden tones, is both light and engaging. With 11% alcohol by volume, it’s the perfect way to wind down after a day’s work and embrace the Italian art of “aperitivo.”

 

goxoa

Goxoa

Goxoa is a startup producing hydrating beer for athletes: enriched with mineral salts, isotonic, and with 0% alcohol. It is the first beer to combine the flavor of craft beer with performance. This drink quenches thirst with 50% fewer calories than a classic beer and 10 times more electrolytes. Goxoa participated in the second Startup Day of Madrid Food Innovation Hub, the incubator of companies in the food sector of the Madrid City Council.

Miwi

MIWI

MIWI kombucha is a range of natural, unpasteurized drinks, created from a fermentation of green tea and organic cane sugar, which is wholly consumed in the fermentation process. This drink does not contain sugar, calories, or alcohol. The benefits of MIWI come from four fundamental points: living microorganisms, organic acids, antioxidant properties, and the absence of sugar.

relash
Relash 

.relash is a startup that launched a drink designed to help people relax, unwind and improve their mood. This beverage is made using all-natural ingredients such as lemon, green tea, ginseng, and vitamin C, which are carefully combined to achieve the perfect balance of relaxation, taste, and health benefits. Lemon balm helps create a sense of calm without causing drowsiness, while green tea contains L-theanine, which helps to relax the mind and body. Ginseng improves memory and mood, and vitamin C helps boost the immune system. The drink is low in sugar and can be consumed at any time, making it a perfect choice for anyone looking to unwind and disconnect, either alone or with friends. .relash’s mission is to contribute to creating a more balanced society with a better quality of life, helping people to be in a better mood and enjoy the present more.

 

every

Every Company 

Pulp Culture+ and The EVERY Co. have joined forces to create a “first of its kind” product: BUILD. This is the world’s first protein-boosted hard juice, designed to meet the growing demand for “better-than-ever” beverages with functional, digestive, and adaptogenic claims. BUILD is made with animal-free EVERY Protein, (a neutral-tasting and clear protein made with precision fermentation). BUILD offers premium, source-verified pineapple, coconut, vanilla, ashwagandha, and cordyceps. This hard juice is also sugar-free and contains protein and probiotics.  BUILD’s impressive lineup of benefits is set to disrupt the hard alternatives category and create new possibilities for beverage products of the future.

one more

One More 

One More is a company that produces functional drinks that are designed to support health, high performance, and fun. Their main product is a carbonated drink that is a source of nutrients, vitamins, and mineral salts. One More claims that their drink is ideal for people with busy routines who live every moment intensely and want to be ready for any challenge. The drink is said to promote more focus and concentration, help to recover the body, and provide a sense of well-being without causing agitation. It is also low in calories, containing less than 10 calories per serving, and made for daily consumption without any contraindications. Additionally, One More’s drink contains choline, which they claim is the new caffeine, and is designed to provide a disposition without agitation.

 

To sum up, the beverage industry is continuously evolving, with startups introducing new and unique drinks that cater to consumers’ growing demand for functional and healthier options. From FUL’s superfood-based sparkling blue drink to Pepe Mate’s natural energy drink, .relash’s mood-improving beverage, BUILD’s protein-boosted hard juice, and One More’s functional carbonated drink, these startups offer a range of natural and functional ingredients that provide health benefits and taste great. With a focus on sustainability, health, and unique blends of natural ingredients, these innovative drinks are changing the industry and providing consumers with new and exciting options.

Check out our article about our interview with Victor Guimil of One More, Co-Founder and COO to get to know better the industry. 

Throughout the agri-food value chain, various participants play key roles. Each participant shares critical information about the product, which is stored on their local servers. Unfortunately, this information remains inaccessible to other participants, leading to increased possibilities of food fraud within the system.

Here’s where blockchain steps in to address this issue. It provides a secure environment in which every participant in the blockchain network has access to all the data. Once the data is input and verified, it becomes immutable and cannot be altered after that. For example, if a farmer provides a certificate of organic food, verified by an authorized agency, that certificate cannot be tampered with later on.

In the food industry, blockchain technology is revolutionizing traceability by creating a digital record of a food product’s journey from farm to table. This record may include crucial details like ingredient origins, harvest dates, transportation, and storage conditions. Such information can be easily accessed by customers and stakeholders through smartphone apps or QR codes, offering greater transparency and assurance about the food they consume.

In this article, we will explore how some disruptive startups are using blockchain to revolutionize the industry.

 

ripe

Ripe.io 

Ripe.io 🇺🇸 uses blockchain technology to improve the transparency and traceability of food. It allows consumers to trace the origin of their food and provides reliable information about the product’s journey from farm to table. 

They created a digital record of each product and have a mobile app where consumers can access and view information about the product’s origin, environmental impact, and nutritional value. The platform allows producers and suppliers to easily share information with customers and regulators, making it easier for them to guarantee safety regulations and build trust between consumers and producers, leading to a more sustainable food system.

 

trusty

Trusty

Trusty 🇮🇹 is an innovative traceability platform that leverages blockchain technology to provide end-to-end transparency in the agrifood industry. The platform enables businesses to track and monitor their food products from farm to fork, ensuring quality, safety, and sustainability. 

With a strong focus on the cacao and coffee sectors, Trusty has successfully onboarded clients in Colombia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Sao Tome, establishing traceability and promoting ethical sourcing practices. Trusty empowers producers, strengthens consumer trust, and fosters sustainable supply chains in the agrifood sector

 

tefood

TE-Food 

Following their mission ”You have the right to know what you are eating” TE-FOOD 🇩🇪 uses blockchain technology to improve traceability and enhance food safety. It has developed a blockchain-based traceability solution that tracks the movement of food products from farm to consumer and stores the information. They allow the monitoring of food making it easier to identify and prevent food fraud and reduce food waste. 

The platform has been adopted by more than 6,000 businesses and organizations, tracking over 400,000 transactions daily, it can be used by household farmers, and global brands with different food categories such as meat, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

provenance

Provenance 

Provenance 🇬🇧 aims to increase transparency and trust in the food supply chain. The company creates a digital record for each food product on the blockchain, which includes information about its origin, production process, and ingredients, making it easily verifiable and accessible to customers. 

The platform also offers a certification program for products that meet certain sustainability standards and enables food producers and suppliers to share product information with customers and regulators. Provenance has tracked over 1 million products.

 

agrichain

Agri-Chain

Agrichain 🇦🇺 aims to improve transparency and efficiency supply chain. It uses blockchain technology to create a digital record of each agricultural product that includes information such as the location of growth, farmers’ information, and farming methods.

 The platform also enables real-time tracking and traceability of agricultural products, making it easier to identify and prevent fraud and optimize the supply chain. Agrichain’s solution can be used by various actors in the agricultural industry and it covers a wide variety of products such as grains, fruits, and vegetables.

 

ucropit

ucrop.it 

Ucrop.it 🇦🇷 offers a digital platform, which is free and confidential,  where producers record and verify agronomic events to trace the history of their crops (Crop Story™). The process is very simple and assisted by field agronomists at no cost. All the information entered is under the control of the producer, crypto-verified (using blockchain technology). Each producer owns their crop history, and as such, they decide which companies to share it with in exchange for benefits.

 

To sum up, blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the food industry by improving transparency, traceability, and sustainability. By providing consumers with detailed information about the origin, environmental impact, and nutritional value of food, and by making it easier for food producers and suppliers to comply with food safety regulations, blockchain technology can help to build trust between consumers and food producers. With the increasing demand for transparency and sustainability in the food industry, blockchain technology plays a significant role in shaping the future of the food industry.

Alberto Barbari joins Eatable Adventures as Programme Director

Eatable Adventures, one of the world’s leading agrifood accelerators,  – the Foodtech Accelerator of the National Network of CDP Venture Capital SGR. Foodseed is a pioneering program aimed at promoting innovation and excellence in the Italian agrifood industry. The program counts on the support of renowned partners and co-investors such as Fondazione Cariverona, UniCredit, and Eatable Adventures, as well as corporate partners including Amadori, Cattolica Assicurazioni, Axxelera, Veronafiere, and scientific partner the University of Verona.

 

Barbari, a seasoned Open Innovation expert, will collaborate with Riccardo Fisogni, the Vice President and General Manager of Eatable Adventures Italia. Together, they will undertake a strategic search for the most innovative startups operating in the FoodTech and AgriTech sectors, capable of addressing the evolving needs of the Italian food supply chain.

Alberto Barbari holds a degree in Management Engineering and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering of the Food Industry. He has gained extensive experience in the FMCG sector, particularly in product development, Design Thinking, and Open Innovation. As the newly appointed Program Director of the Foodseed Accelerator, Barbari will leverage his wealth of expertise to drive the Italian project forward. Over the next three years, Foodseed will actively seek out the most innovative startups operating in the FoodTech and AgriTech industries, with the ultimate goal of creating new business models and fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem that promotes sustainability, technology, and ethics. All of these elements will work in synergy to drive the growth and development of the food supply chain.

 

With 5 years of experience in the Barilla Group, specifically in the Innovation division, Barbari has gained valuable expertise in Open Innovation. He has collaborated on projects that have revolutionized the food industry, anticipating the benefits that a smart utilization of technology can bring to the agri-food system of the future. His experience at the Italian multinational has sharpened his ability to identify forward-thinking and innovative initiatives within Barilla’s Global Innovation Platform Unit. This has been achieved by exploring, implementing, and testing cutting-edge technologies, disruptive business models, and new food products and services.

 

As the Program Director of Foodseed, Alberto Barbari will oversee all aspects of the acceleration program, from designing and managing the training curriculum to planning the roadmap for participating startups, including recruitment, selection, evaluation, and investment roadshows. He will also be responsible for identifying mentors and ensuring that the program provides maximum benefits to the startups.

“I am delighted to be in my new position at Eatable Adventures. Having worked with the Italian food industry for a long time, I am aware of the challenges and potential of this sector. I look forward to discovering the new projects that will be part of Foodseed and guiding them towards a path where innovation complements the tradition of Made in Italy. In the years to come, the Italian supply chain will undergo significant changes, and the ethical use of technology will play a crucial role in the production and sales process. Despite these challenges, Italy is ready to make a comeback on the international stage, reaffirming its excellence in food and wine. The synergy between technology and sustainability will inject new energy into our country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” commented Alberto.

 

Barbari’s arrival is just one of many steps that the Accelerator has taken in its expansion, resulting in a 25% increase in staff in recent months to support growth both nationally and internationally. The Accelerator’s commitment to this expansion has been further strengthened by the recent addition of Julia Espeso as Ecosystem Director, who brings significant experience from Harvard University’s ‘Food&Science’ research group. The Accelerator has also opened new offices in Verona, Barcelona, and Bilbao in recent months, demonstrating its dedication to promoting the adoption of new technologies in the food sector. Offering 40 annual programs to companies and governments in Europe and Latin America, as well as 10 acceleration and incubation programs and an extensive network of over 25,000 entrepreneurs, the Accelerator continues to expand its reach and impact.

Eatable Adventures une fuerzas con el Gobierno Alemán para impulsar la innovación del sector agroalimentario en el noroeste de Camboya

The Foodtech accelerator has been selected by the German Agency for International Cooperation to increase agri-food productivity and promote sustainable practices in the region.

 

ICONE, a project of GIZ (the German Agency for International Cooperation), which promotes sustainable and innovative business practices in Cambodia, has selected Eatable Adventures to drive innovation in the agri-food sector in the northwest of the country. This partnership seeks to integrate sustainable practices and develop innovative solutions to increase the agri-food productivity of local businesses, contributing to the country’s economic progress.

Agriculture stands as one of the foremost economic pillars of the country, contributing around 22% to its gross domestic product (GDP) and encompassing 30% of the nation’s total employment. Alas, a mere 10% to 13% of agricultural produce is subject to processing, resulting in the majority of exported items being in their raw form. It is noteworthy that a significant portion of these products undergoes value-added products in Thailand and Vietnam before being exported back to Cambodia (1). Therefore, there is a need for the country to focus on developing its processing and value-addition capabilities in the agricultural sector to improve its economic growth and competitiveness in the global market.

With this partnership, ICONE and Eatable Adventures will launch a two-year program that aims to analyze the current state of the agri-food industry in the northwest region of Cambodia, encourage investment in the sector’s businesses, and identify the best proposals through innovation challenges and incubation programs.
This initiative is crucial to boosting the agri-food industry on a global scale and responding to some of the sector’s most pressing challenges in terms of sustainability, efficiency, and food security. With the world’s population set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the need for sustainable and innovative food solutions is more pressing than ever.
“We are excited to partner with Eatable Adventures to promote innovation in the agri-food sector,” said Dr. Stefan Hanselmann, ICONE Program Director. “Our goal is to identify and support the most promising innovations, embed innovative practices in companies, and help drive investment in this strategic sector.”

Eatable Adventures is recognized for its innovative approach applied to the sustainable transition of the global agri-food sector. “We are committed to building the food system of the future by promoting more innovative, sustainable, and efficient business models. This partnership with ICONE is a key milestone for us, as it is fully aligned with our mission to develop and democratize technologies in the agri-food sector, thus contributing to global food security,” said Paula Giser, Director of Corporate Programs at Eatable Adventures. With this same objective in mind, Eatable Adventures has already forged several strategic alliances with governments and international institutions in Colombia, Spain, and Italy.

Over the next two years, the two entities will work together with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the northwest region of Cambodia to identify and promote the most promising innovations in the agri-food industry, offering a unique growth opportunity for companies seeking to address these pressing challenges and meet the growing demand for food in a responsible and ethical manner.

 

1. Fuente: FAO, 2021 & World Development Indicators 2021 (WDI) by the World Bank

Verona-Agrifood-Innovation-hub

The Hub will integrate the activity of FoodSeed, the accelerator Foodtech programme of CDP Venture Capital Sgr’s national network, recently launched in partnership with Eatable Adventures.

 

Stimulate a culture of innovation in the agri-food sector and establish a strong, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem” is the purpose of the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub, whose memorandum of understanding was presented and signed on Saturday, March 18th at Veronafiere Congress Centre. This groundbreaking initiative is poised to become the strategic hub for the development of agrifood in Italy, serving as a critical meeting point for entrepreneurs, experts, and researchers to exchange ideas and collaborate on the latest advances in the industry.

At the heart of the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub is a commitment to promote and disseminate knowledge of the most advanced solutions in the agri-food sector. With a focus on creating strategic connections between all industry players, the Hub is dedicated to relaunching sustainable growth in the sector while upholding ethical principles and enhancing the excellence of the Italian supply chain. This is essential in light of the unprecedented challenges posed by the current international context and the climate crisis.

Today’s achievement represents a significant milestone for the Verona ecosystem, the development of venture capital, and for its role as an enabler in the technological innovation of production chains,” commented Economy and Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti in the message sent to the event – “Start-ups are key drivers for transformation and modernization processes within mature economies like Italy’s”.

The initiative is supported by a broad partnership of public and private players – Fondazione Cariverona, UniCredit, the Municipality of Verona, Veronafiere, Confindustria Verona, the University of Verona, Cattolica Assicurazioni and Eatable Adventures (which will operationally manage the structure) – and strategically complements the activities of FoodSeed, the start-up accelerator of the National Accelerators Network CDP Venture Capital Sgr financed with over 15 million euros, promoting the growth of young companies specializing in high-potential markets.

The Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub aims to foster entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector, creating high-quality employment opportunities and driving sustainable, long-term growth. The development catalyzed by this new structure is expected to have positive effects on the entire system, both locally and nationally, and will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of the Italian industry.

According to Minister Giorgetti, “the strength of the agro-food sector is a source of pride, but it is important to always look for ways to take a step forward, and this is where the propulsive effect of new companies and innovations can add value: Verona, one of the leading industrial areas in Europe, can serve as a model to be emulated, thanks to an ecosystem that is poised to embrace the opportunities that are being built”. 

To achieve its objectives, the Verona Agrifood Innovation Hub will pursue four lines of action. Firstly, it will establish an ecosystem that brings together and collaborates with enterprises, SMEs, research centers, universities, and citizens with shared food-related interests. Secondly, it will publish periodic reports containing relevant information on the agrifood market to stimulate the emergence of new startups and encourage technology adoption. Thirdly, networking events and collaborative activities involving all stakeholders will be organized to find original solutions to major challenges facing the sector. Lastly, educational projects will be launched to foster tech entrepreneurship, especially among the younger generation. The hub will offer a wide range of activities, all of which will be accessible to startups free of charge.

The latest figures confirm that Italy is poised to take the lead in technological innovation in the agri-food sector, not just locally but also globally. According to the Smart AgriFood Observatory, the Crop 4.0 market was worth approximately EUR 2.1 billion in 2022, representing a remarkable growth of 31% over the previous year. Investments that aim to accelerate the technological transition are also substantial: according to the Venture Capital Monitor of the Liuc Business School, deals closed by venture capital funds in the in agrifoodtech approached 270 million euros over the two-year period of 2020-2021, while last year, the sector ranked among the top in terms of the amount of resources invested.