COMONEXT AND ITS FOOD STARTUPS: THE REVOLUTION GOES THROUGH THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL LAKE’S SHORES

COMONEXT AND ITS FOOD STARTUPS: THE REVOLUTION GOES THROUGH THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL LAKE’S SHORES

Como Lake: The most beautiful lake in the world as per Huffington Post ranking.

Its three different branches, Como, Lecco and Colico, shaping the characteristics inverted Y, converge in Bellagio, which inspired U.S. Tycoon Kirk Kerkorian in creating the Las Vegas Resort & Casino carrying the same name of this small town located exactly in the middle of the lake.

So much earlier than George Clooney chose it as his mansion, the “Lario’s” peaceful and romantic shores inspired great writers such as Stendhal and Manzoni, who published on the XIX Century his masterpiece “The Betrothed” (I Promessi Sposi) pictured on Lecco’s branch.

Como, on the Swiss border, is the city where I was born, and I always had the base camp during my world tour, and back into the fold, where I actually live.

One of the hills dominating the town is the seat of the small village called Camnago Volta, which in 1745 proudly gave birth to one of the greatest scientists in history, Alessandro Volta, pioneer of electricity and inventor of the electrical battery. To the genius and the inventions of one of its most prominent son, the City of Como dedicated one museum, Il Museo Voltiano, standing in the garden on lake’s shores.



With such great and rich history in the field of breakthrough, the town of Como has always been watching into the future and was destined to become one of the most important hubs of innovation, that became a reality thanks to ComoNext.

The Como cutting-edge technology park, founded in 2010 to boost the local economy and support the creation of new business, can actually rely on solid partnerships with the most important business and education players such as banks, institutions, industry associations and prestigious universities; it lies on a total surface of 22’000mq which hosts 125 innovative businesses, between companies and start-ups, with 60 co-worker stations.



ComoNext mission counts 3 main targets: act as a "technology beacon" to attract innovative companies, transfer the innovation to the area and support the creation of new businesses through its incubator. The latter can undoubtedly be considered as the ComoNext jewel in the crown: with its 650 knowledge workers, it is able to provide highly skilled consulting in promoting and supporting new ideas and driving them to become profitable businesses.

ComoNext is located on the Swiss Border, but still in Italy, where food matters are taken really serious, and it’s a State-of-the-art technopark, so might it miss one foodtech startup based on blockchain? The answer is NO, it can't.

Among the several start-ups located in the park, the Como hub is the seat of FoodChain SpA, a challenging and disruptive foodtech start-up based on blockchain technology, founded by Marco Vitale, who was driven by his passion for food and the willingness to create more transparency and liability in the food industry.

This topic was already widely discussed in this article: food frauds are part of men’s life since the biblical times. Such EC schemes as PDO (protected designation of origin), PGI (protected geographical indications) and TSG (traditional specialities guaranteed), or the different Biological certifications and associations like Slow Food are powerful ways to control what arrives on our tables and enforce consumer confidence but, because of their own nature, they need precisely that to be efficient: the trust. Obviously, nobody, me at first, can doubt about EC liability or the various certification boards, but the only way to dispel any doubt is just one: the technology and precisely the blockchain.

For better understanding the impact FoodChain may have on our lives, the pictures below may help to sell the fact.




In a traditional or even excellence supply chain, the pieces of information are sent/received by all the players through phone, email, fax and are stored in servers or on traditional databases with the obvious risk of error, hacking or tampering.



With blockchain technology, more than the negotiations among the parts performed through smart contracts (see this article) all the informations related to crops, harvest, logistics, storage and every other sensible data related to raw materials and products are automatically registered by sensors and markers placed along the whole chain and then stored in the different safe blocks with any possibility of error, tampering and/or theft. All the stored information can be tracked in real-time, accessed and viewed by the consumers by simply scanning the product labels with an app installed on their smartphone. The potential applications for this technology are infinite; think for a while the impact it might have on organic fruit and veggies market, meat, fish, gluten-free food or food manufacturing.

Now, figure out for a while when FoodChain technology will be widespread by all food industry players: you will scan your favorite spaghetti pack knowing almost in real time the location of the wheat crop, the harvest date, when the wheat was grounded, sent to the factory and being processed and so on, until the date the pack was placed on the rack. You will buy safely your beloved piece of cheese being able to know even where the cow grazed. While chatting with your buddies you will scan your organic chicken breast to know if the broiler was really raised on a farm rather than in a battery cage.



Does it sound like a dream? Soon it will be true thanks to FoodChain.

The start-up has already successfully performed one great pilot project, applying their technology to the long and fragmented coffee supply chain and now it’s ready to conquer new market shares.

As I love to repeat, if you are driven by a strong sense of WHY, you can rule the world and it looks like these guys do it.

But the food innovation that started in Como doesn’t stop with FoodChain.

ComoNext hosts also Choose srl, one food tech start-up, still under incubation but already with its own patented technology. The idea of the two founders, Nicola Ostinelli and Stefano Neri, is to bring a refreshing new tone to Italian breakfast. How? Stuffing the typical Italian breakfast food, the croissant, right "at the time" through an innovative machine loaded with eco-friendly cartridges filled with high-quality creams or jams. The creators are now elaborating the recipes both for the different gourmet stuffing and for the brioches and are engineering the first machine prototype. The challenge of the customized breakfast is launched, are you ready to accept it? Let’s look forward.

Whether you prefer having toast with honey at breakfast rather than the brioche, you might find really interesting the 3Bee Hive-Tech, one more awesome start-up incubated at ComoNext. For sure, you will agree the bees’ mortality is undoubtedly one of the actual environmental plagues, and 3Bees hive-tech can help in solving this tremendous issue. As stated in the name, 3Bees guys developed a "Technology hive" which allows the continuous monitoring of the life of bees. Consider that a healthy bee is synonymous with a healthy environment so, besides to maximize the honey productivity, this technology is able to give feedback on environmental quality, through deep analysis of the polm catched by the bees, sending immediate alerts in case of harmful substances, allowing the application of appropriate corrective actions.



One more interesting and awesome feature offered by 3Bees is the possibility to “adopt” a hive, watch the life of the bees in real time on your smartphone and then receive the honey glasses direct at home. Honey that will be local and organic, so will be eating clean and supporting the local economy, what else?

The digital beekeepers era is started!

Either you choose to fill your brioche or spread honey on your toast for breakfast, surely in both cases you would “pair” the chosen food with a glass of milk, better if organic. The global dairy colossus, Arla Food, chose Como and its TechnoPark as their Italian branch. The Swedish milk beneath can rely on 12'700 farmers located in 7 countries producing 14 million milk tons per year, this fact ranks Alma Food as the first organic milk producers in the world. Being conceived and operating as an association of farmers, Arla Food operates with full social and environmental engagement, totally committed to sustainability. Definitely what the world actually needs.



Switching from milk to wine, MyWineTour, an exciting mobile app, obviously incubated at ComoNext, will surely enthrall all wine lovers and Eno-tourists.

Once installed and set up on your smartphone, Mywinetour will elaborate a customized "wine track" indicating the best canteens and the more appropriate wines to match your tastes. Bacchus would have been proud of it.

Will the food revolution start in Milan, Zurich or New York? No, it's rising on the shores of the most beautiful lake in the world.

If you liked this article and you think these start-ups might contribute to food revolution, feel free to share it with your network.