Last year, at this time, I was writing about the launch of the first edition of FoodTech Accelerator powered in Milan, managed by Officine Innovazione, the Deloitte spin-off leading the Italian innovation for the professional services network behemoth.
Such initiative can be truly considered as the first Italian accelerator in the field of foodtech, able to gather some high profile Italian agri-food companies such as Amadori, Cereal Docks, Finiper, Birra Peroni and Italia Zuccheri as corporate partners and a skilled and motley team of mentors, who joining forces to work together with a reliable group of interesting international foodtech startups, carefully selected by the young and dynamic team of Officine Innovazione, managing and supervising all the operations. Definitively, FoodTech Accelerator can be considered beyond any doubt as a project of excellence for the Italian agri-food industry, that’s beginning now to embrace innovation.
“Open innovation in Italy - says Marco Perrone, Head of Open innovation initiatives di Officine Innovazione, is taking an even more strategic role, allowing market players to gain competitiveness. Through FoodTech Accelerator, Officine Innovazione takes the role of catalizator, promoter, and activator of technological and business collaborations with all the players involved.”
The first edition was great, but the second one, launched at the end of January aims to be even better. Definitively, the accelerator chose to raise the bar, reaching what could be defined as the “second level”, as demonstrated by the 9 startups selected for this second edition. Looking at them, what grabs immediately the attention is their maturity level, as shown by the 35 million dollars in funding raised until now by the 9 startups.
“The first edition - says Giulia Silenzi General Manager di FoodTech Accelerator, built us a solid reputation allowing to attract high-quality startups with a good maturity level and by another side, it lets earn experience both to us and our partners. Definitively, it makes us realize that this year we were ready to raise at the second level. We are aware there’s always room for improvement.”
THE 9 STARTUPS
From Hong-Kong to Canada via Israel with destination Italy and the incipit of Deloitte Press release about the 9 startups selected, confirmed the great international exposure of FoodTech Accelerator
“The selection process is a fundamental step - says Davide Piacentini, Scouting Manager of FoodTech Accelerator, to evaluate the possibility to build solid collaboration through the launch of pilot projects. During the selection we take into consideration different topics, both qualitative and quantitative, struggling to maintain a broad vision on the market and competitive environment.”
Antonio Iannone and Davide Piacentini
Here are the 9 startups, listed taking a food supply chain perspective, from upstream to downstream:
EQUINOM - THE SMARTER SEEDS FROM ISRAEL
Equinom developed a revolutionary patented technology able to enhance plant and seeds to obtain the desired content or protein, oil, and starch, adjust color, savour, and so on.
CYTOPHAGE - THE CANADIAN SOLUTION FOR INFECTION AND DISEASE
Fight bacteria with synthetic bacteriophages. It could be synthesized in this way the focus of Cytophage. The patent-pending technology will have a wide application in food safety and livestock health.
SOOS TECHNOLOGY: PRODUCTION OPTIMIZATION FOR THE POULTRY INDUSTRY MADE IN ISRAEL
The visionary technology developed by Soos can reverse sex of poultry embryos and turn male into a functional female, thus avoiding the sad extermination of 7.5 billion male chicks that have no use for the egg industry.
AGRITASK - THE ISRAELI TOOL FOR THE AGRONOMIC OPERATIONS
The platform developed by Agritask can collect and analyze agronomic data by multiple sources than turn them into powerful tools and decision support systems for agriculture.
INNOVO-PRO - THE FIRST COMPANY TO LAUNCH CHICKPEA PRTOEIN CONCETRATE 70%
InnovoPro developed a proprietary extraction process for a 70% chickpea protein concentrate. It’s allergen-free, non-GMO, functional and nutritious protein, is produced using a green process, has a low environmental footprint and enables the creation of clean label products.
ZERO EGG: PLANT BASED EGG FROM ISRAEL
The product developed by Zero Egg has the taste, texture an functionality of a traditional egg. Zero Egg product is very versatile and can replace whole egg in multiple products, from omletes and scrambled eggs to baking products and all the way to sauces.
HEALLO: THE ITALIAN SOLUTION TO REDUCE CARBS ABSORPTION
Thanks to a patented process, Heallo can extract a soluble fiber from brewer’s spent grain allowing to regulate the glycemic peak and with a powerful prebiotic effect.
IXON: TECH VACUUM SEALED PACKAGING MADE IN HONG KONG
The Advanced Sous-vide Aseptic Packaging (ASAP) of Ixon sterilizes the food at moderate temperature (60-80 Celsius), making it transportable at room temperature and storable up to 2 years.
KTCHN LAB: AN ITALIAN GHOST KITCHEN WITH LOT OF VIRTUAL BRANDS
In its dark kitchens, KTCHN LAB, studies, invents, develops, builds, launches, prepares, and delivers plenty of new “Hyperlocal” virtual food brands.
REACTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS
“Considering the great results achieved with the first edition – says Matteo Demartini, Senior Consultant in Officine Innovazione – the second batch of FTA has more ambitious goals. We want to make concrete the collaborations and the synergy between our corporates and the high profile startups selected. In accordance with our partners, we chose international startups with a high technological content, that are surely pretty complex and challenging and could drive to define innovative business models. Definitively, we are fully satisfied about what aims this second edition and aware of the challenges we will have to accept with the different projects that could have a positive impact on the business of our partners.
Andrea Beretta - Business Innovation Advisor at Officine Innovazione: The foodtech environment is in constant motion and rapid growth This year we have been truly impressed by the number of startup in the field of sustainability, innovative packaging, alternative ingredients and biotech and the project we selected show how FTA is surfing this wave.For this edition we surely have more challenging goals, starting by the partners, willing to collaborate with startups more mature then the first edition. As stated above, the 9 startups have raised in total 35 millions $ in funding, as one (Equinom) has just raised a Round B of 10m Furthermore the pilot projects of this second edition will need technical support and vertical skills on genetis, chemistry and advanced industrial processing besides project management, planning, go-to-market and business development. Definitively, this second edition shows the willingness by the partner to accelerate the development of their open innovation strategy, with the coordination of Officine Innovazione"
"The program – says Itay Dana, Vice President Marketing at Equinom - helps to establish a direct dialogue between seed-breeding companies, such as Equinom, and the food industry. By balancing agronomic needs and food industry requirements we can design a solution that fits all."
“We are excited to take part of this program – says Guy Manor, Vice President Business Development at Innovopro - collaborating with our new partners and FTA colleagues to create new business opportunities that based on Innovopro’s products and expertise coupled with our partners capabilities to further develop our joint offering to the plant based protein market.
Felix Cheung, Founder and Ceo of Ixon – affirmed “We are thrilled to have the support of Amadori and Sealed Air as meat and food packaging suppliers for the next 15 weeks. Our collaboration is set to mark a new chapter in the history of food innovations.”
“We are very proud to partner with FTA – says Alon Gozlan, Vice President Business Development at Soos Technology - and its local sponsors to test our technology in real-life situation. We expect this pilot to successfully produce more functional females, and allow our Italian partners poultry operations to benefit from the access to our technology.”
Michael Graham, CFO of Cytophage: "Through the Foodtech Accelerator, we have met a number of potential collaborators/partners and are in the process of coordinating a study with a major industry partner. We expect that the study will prove to establish our ability to address our partner's challanges and lead to a process whereby we can enter the Italian/European market. Without the Accelerator we would likely not try to address the European market for quite some time."
“Heallo means health, science, circular economy” says Francesca Varvello, CEO of Heallo “Our project aims to ensure a correct way of eating, inherent to well-being, even with potentially curative properties. It is important to reflect on how lifestyle and nutrition are important for our physical and mental balance, as well as for preserving our immune system. Projects like ours are extremely topical in modern human challenges. We are very proud to be part of the Deloitte Food Tech Accelerator, thanks to which we are developing two important projects with Italia Zuccheri and Peroni”.