All posts by rabobank

F&A Next 2018 presents; Wageningen University & Research Insights

This year, during F&A Next, Wageningen University & Research will be showcasing its cutting edge academic research. The themes are Robotics and Protein Transition. Two renowned experts from Wageningen University, the global leader in AgriFood will present the most recent developments in their ground-breaking research on Robotics and Protein Transition. After a 10-minute presentation, the two scientific experts, together with an investor, a corporate, and a startup which are active in the field, will discuss how the industry will look like in 10 years from now. What will be the critical factors that will determine the specific technology that will win and accomplish the necessary change desperately needed by society.

Protein Transition

Agro Food Robotics

Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge’s Top 3 start ups will pitch at F&A Next!

As a global leader in animal nutrition and aquafeed, Nutreco is all about bringing new ideas and technologies to the farmer. Faster. Its advanced nutritional solutions are at the origin of food for millions of consumers worldwide. The Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge is Nutreco’s ‘greenhouse & pressure cooker’ environment. It´s a place to identify and enrich promising new solutions in a pilot phase. This is where Nutreco is putting the spotlight on new interesting technologies that deserve to be validated and taken to a next phase. Is your start-up all set for the challenge? Is your concept ready to be put to the test – and to be scrutinised by experts from Nutreco, by specialists in its international academic network and by other contestants? If so, then participate in the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge! You could win a full scientific validation of your innovation, including an extensive evaluation report. The challenge question is: what is your breakthrough innovation in Feeding the Future – that CANNOT wait? Do you have a breakthrough solution on ‘Nutrition against Antimicrobial Resistance’, ‘Feed-to-Farm Efficiency’ or ‘Young Animal Nutrition’? Join the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge. Take your innovation to the next level!
What’s in it for you?
As a start-up with a breakthrough idea, getting your concept funded is probably not your first need – its validation, or proof that it works. This is what the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge has to offer to you.
Why this Challenge?
Nutreco is always looking for the best ideas from the brightest minds. The Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge is a great new way to meet those minds and learn about the breakthroughs they are working on. It’s important to work together towards a sustainable world that can produce more food with less resources, to feed a growing global population.
  • Anyone can participate, as long as you have an innovative feed tech product, concept or service;
  • The Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge platform offers a new way of sharing ideas and concepts. If you enter the challenge, Nutreco experts and scientists will enrich and strengthen your innovation;
  • Nutreco experts will choose the ten finalists that will be invited to the Netherlands to receive extensive guidance and training during the two-day Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge Event on 28-29 May 2018;
  • An esteemed jury will select the top 3 that will pitch at F&A Next on 30 May, where the winner will be announced;
  • The winner gets a unique prize: a scientific on-farm validation trial, including extensive validation report. This is the ultimate test of your innovation and will belong to you. The 10 finalists will get free tickets to F&A Next (30 -31 May in the Netherlands).
The Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge is open until 2 April 2018.

F&A Next 2018: All about robotics

Robotics and corporate innovation are the central focus of F&A Next 2018, the event for innovation in the food and agri sector. F&A Next brings together large corporates wanting to innovate and startups that need financing, advice, and clients.

The third F&A Next takes place at Wageningen University on 30 and 31 May. Start-ups, investors, and corporate decision-makers will gather at the event. The program features knowledge exchange, discussions, and showcases by the most innovative start-ups. Jeroen Leffelaar, responsible for F&A innovation at Rabobank, is one of the organizers.
What are the most promising aspects of robotics for F&A?
“Robotics are going to play an important role in the sustainable increase of agricultural production and in waste reduction. Robotic farming is set to take off, with robots now able to operate and measure data at plant level. That means they can replace manual workers during the harvest. In fact, advanced robots can use data to sow seeds, control the spread of weeds, and harvest crops.”
Are robots already being deployed?
“Milking robots are almost commonplace in Western countries, and a range of measuring systems and climate control devices are used in horticulture. Farmers also already deploy robots for weed control and for harvesting fruit. To be used in other countries, these technologies may need to be adjusted to local climate and market conditions. Crop simulation models and improvements in greenhouse climate models are just some of the technologies that could be of use in developing countries. In addition, the knowledge and skills of the local growers need to be developed further.”
Should farmers themselves be innovating then?
“For the best results, farmers should not only acquire new knowledge, but also share knowledge with each other. Suppose one farmer is more productive than the other, then it’s interesting to find out how their approach differs. Data (from satellites, for example) is increasingly available to monitor the growth of crops, the quality of the soil, and the weather. This agricultural data will be used more and more in the coming years, not only in the production process, but also as a basis for financing. “To improve farmers’ access to this information on a global scale, Rabobank established the platform. Farmers have taken a cautious attitude towards the use of data so far, and they may be reluctant to share information. That’s a pity because while they can’t do anything with each other’s land, they can certainly do something with each other’s knowledge.”
What does innovation mean for large corporates?
“Food & Agri corporates must innovate to remain relevant: it’s no longer enough for them to just continue developing existing products. But disruptive innovation hardly ever comes from these corporates. In this respect you can see start-ups and venture capital as a kind of external R&D department for large companies. Corporates are increasingly embracing this model. It can take on various forms: takeover of start-ups, collaboration, or corporate venturing where the company itself takes a minority stake. Rabobank can be the liaison in these scenarios. Just take a look at”
What’s in it for Rabobank?
“We are a financial institution, and we are specialized in food & agri. But there’s more to it than that. As a bank we are eager to contribute to a solution to the world’s food problem: our motto, after all, is growing a better world together. Innovation is crucial, and that’s why we make our knowledge and our network available. Innovation also requires capital, and that’s why we finance the entire value chain: from the small farmer all the way up to Nestlé.”

NutriLeads: catalyzing nutrition & health innovations

NutriLeads develops supportive nutritional ingredients for application in dietary supplements, medical food and functional food products intended for specific target populations seeking to support their immune function. The current Series A financing will be used to support the further development of NutriLeads’ main ingredient, a novel Immune Modulating Plant Polysaccharide (IMPP). During the next phase, production will be scaled up and two human clinical trials to substantiate the immune supportive effect in different target populations will be performed. “The current investment supports the fast track development of our lead ingredient for application in dietary supplements, medical foods and functional foods. We are confident that this will help us realize our ambition to partner with ingredient suppliers and food companies to bring the benefits of our health ingredients to patients and consumers” indicates Ruud Albers, PhD, CEO of NutriLeads. Corporate involvement in disruptive innovation is one of the main topics at F&A Next 2017. As a former Nutrition and Health R&D director at Unilever, consultant to several multinational ingredient suppliers, food and pharma companies, and now as CEO of a small innovative company he is more than qualified to share his thought on the subject. ‘Embracing the startup culture has become something in between a buzzword and a mantra for many corporates over the past few years. I have seen companies employ a number of different strategies in working with startups. The approaches include growing startups inside the company or partnering with existing ones, running acceleration programs or investing in early-stage projects, etc. From a startup point of view it’s probably fair to say that engaging with corporates in any way can be beneficial for a startup provided both parties know what they want from the partnership”. Ruud continues “I am very pleased that following the successful closure of the seed investment in October 2015 we embarked on a collaboration with DSM Nutritional Products to help scale up production of our lead ingredient from pilot plant to commercial scale production. In addition the coop with DSM Nutritional Products brings credibility and impact.” Dr Rob Beudeker, VP Innovation Human Nutrition and Health at DSM: “We welcome this collaboration with NutriLeads. They own some interesting technology and we would like to help them bringing this to commercial fruition. Immunity benefits are very relevant for families all over the world.” Wilco Schoonderbeek, senior investment manager of PPM Oost: “The increasing emphasis on the health dimension of food is very interesting from an investor point of view. There is a clear need and we need innovations and technology to address these needs. Immune support and resistance to infections is a major health concern of consumers and patients alike. Corporates understand they need to facilitate a startup mentality to be able to get access to innovations and technology.”

‘Think big, and far too!’ says ShakeUpFactory’s Kevin Camphuis

As one of the FoodBytes! judges, ShakeUpFactory’s co-founder Kevin Camphuis will help identify food and ag’s Next Big Thing. Kevin brings 20 years of experience in strategy and breakthrough innovation management to the table. We asked him to share some of his wisdom. F&A Next: could you introduce yourself and your role in the food and agri innovation landscape? Kevin: We [ShakeUpFactory] are a team of professionals with many years of experience in the food industry and retail. In our view the sector is experiencing a revolution never seen before. The many entrepreneurs and technologies that are emerging, will rejuvenate, reinvent or even disrupt the sector. Our mission is to help startups and companies develop the solutions to tomorrow’s food demand, today. We do so by providing them with our knowledge, advisory and expertise in managing collaborative business and innovation. F&A Next: Can you name some of the business models that have accelerated via ShakeUpFactory? Kevin: We currently support the development of 15 international startups, from farm to fork, both early and much later stage, B2B or B2C, each of them with a tech or digital aspect. It can either be a food traceability confidence platform with blockchain, a food subscription service with 4 years of expertise or Wynd, a SAAS omnichannel order management system, which is to date the most funded foodtech startup in France. F&A Next: What trends do you see in the food and agri landscape? Kevin: It’s not too much to say that the food and agri sector is under profound reboot. This due to the maturation of many new technologies, from IA to robotics, GPS, datascience, etc. Technologies that most traditional actors do not master. Added to this, the typology of customers will deeply change. In the US, Generation X and Millennials represent some 70% of the food purchase power. And these consumer groups express radically different expectations, that most traditional actors cannot meet. Finally, the exponential use of mobile phones is pushing the explosion of food delivery and e-commerce, which is said to multiply by 10 in the coming 5 years. It results in the development of new ingredients, propositions and businesses, for the sake of customers who will eat safer, lighter and more savoury products, delivered on demand and adapted to their taste or pathologies. They are developed by skilled entrepreneurs who come as new entrants and with ambitions to shakeup the system, putting food brands and retailers under strong pressure. And these startups have the support of hundreds of private investors and VC, who have poured close to $40B in the past 4 years to help them grow. All of this results in the emergence of what we could name as a new food economy. F&A Next: How is innovation in food and agri developing in different parts of the world? Kevin: In terms of maturity, US is clearly leading the new food innovation trend, with its gravity center in the Silicon Valley but a growing number of new comers in every state. Israel is strong in terms of projects and funding for ag tech and science. To date, Europe is more a follower, but with multiple signs of a bright future; the number of projects, skilled professionals and students turning into foodtech entrepreneurs is increasing. China and greater Asia is also a vivid follower, with a large number of projects seizing the opportunities of food delivery and e-commerce and all the money needed to make them grow fast. F&A Next: What do you think needs to change for innovation in food and agri to come to fruition? Keving: Having analysed the international environment for many years, it seems to me that what is lacking the most is openness. The changes needed to improve our food system, to compensate the projected decrease in the number of farmers and the strategic issue for Europe to regain its leadership require that traditional actors open their doors, labs and shelves to newcomers and accelerate mutually benefiting collaborations with their products or technologies. It’s a radical change that is at stake in terms of instilling new innovation processes. And coming back from a one week tour in San Francisco, I cannot help thinking that we have most elements required to take our place in this revolution, i.e. skills, savoir-faire, expertise and also global food leaders, but not enough money for projects to survive the crucial initial phases of their development. F&A Next: What would be your key advice for start-ups in food and agri? Kevin: Think big, and far too!

Waterly introduces fruity water at F&A Next 2017

Bart Verweijen, founder of Waterly will be present at F&A Next. Bart aspired to make drinking-water more attractive and stimulate a healthy lifestyle for people at the office. StartLife helped him to introduce “fruity water”; a natural and healthy alternative for coffee and sweetened beverages. Now, Bart’s water is slowly entering the market. A few years ago Bart planned a journey through Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan is one of the driest places on earth. Bart saw people suffering from the drought on a daily-basis. Then, he realized that Dutch people take clean drinking-water for granted. In the Netherlands there is plenty of fresh and healthy water available but, we hardly ever choose to drink it. We grab a coffee or sweetened beverages, but hardly plain water. After his journey, Bart started to work for Dopper, well-known for its trendy water bottles. Dopper strives to reduce plastic waste and increase the availability of drinking-water worldwide. As managing director, Bart began to understand why and when Europeans drink water. After two successful years, Bart struck out on his own and founded Waterly. His mission was to stimulate a healthy lifestyle in developed countries whilst making clean drinking-water available in developing countries. Of course, Bart understood how difficult this mission was going to be, because he didn’t want to invent another artificial flavoured water. They already flooded the market. So he combined water with fresh fruit and herb juices. Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to transport his water and keep it fresh. Water with juice stays fresh for only a few hours! Finally, Bart found a solution. In collaboration with a food appliance manufacturer and a product designer he developed a dispenser that gives out fresh fruity water at any time. The machine keeps the water fresh for two weeks. Now, a prototype of the dispenser will be tested at Papendal, the National Sports Center of the Netherlands. ‘I wish all pitch candidates a lot of success. By participating in pitching events, for example at F&A Next, you will quickly learn how to present the right information to get the funding you need’.

‘Don’t sell promises but facts and numbers!’ says StartupFarmers’ Romain Sautrau

StartupFarmers’ co-founder, Romain Sautrau, is one of the seed funds fueling the dialogue in the interactive session on ‘where to go for seed capital?’. In advance of that session, we have picked his brain for a bit. F&A Next: Could you introduce yourself and elaborate on your role in the food and agri innovation landscape? StartupFarmers: StartupFarmers is an accelerator fund based in Paris, dedicated to AgriTech startups in Western Europe and Israel. Our ambition is to support entrepreneurs building great businesses that bring disruptive technologies and fresh ideas towards sustainable agriculture and food production: better yields, less environmental impact. The accelerator fund will be focused on four different areas: sustainable inputs, digital farming, circular economy, food & distribution. We are currently fund raising ourselves and target a first close by the end of the year. F&A Next: How do you work with startups in the F&A industry? StartupFarmers: We support early-stage startups through capital investment, strategic coaching and a go-to-market through our connections with leading players in the agri-food sectors in France. We believe this is the winning recipe to build successful startups, especially in agriculture. This is indeed a very specific industry that is not easy to break through for entrepreneurs that come from other sectors. We basically help them understand the dynamics between the different actors playing in the industry, prioritize markets and adjust their business model for a successful deployment of their innovative solutions. F&A Next: What trends do you see in the F&A landscape? StartupFarmers: Greater awareness on innovation! We now see much greater awareness from farmers and agribusiness companies about the disruptive potential of innovation from farm to fork. Greater awareness also from entrepreneurs that developed amazing digital solutions in other industries and now see F&A as a promising market for their products. This is very encouraging! F&A Next: How is innovation in F&A developing? Which regions seem to be leading the pack and why? StartupFarmers: F&A innovation is developing steadily! R&D is indeed a significant and growing topic in the agri-food sector. Globally, annual R&D expenditure in food and agriculture represents USD 72bn and grows at a rate of 5% per year according to OECD. This is to be compared to USD 110bn of R&D in healthcare, the world leading industry in terms of R&D effort. In terms of regional dynamics, Europe clearly appears as a leader in agri-food innovation with R&D expenditure of USD 13bn (vs. USD 8.6bn in the US). I believe this is due to the size and the diversity of the agri-food industry on the continent. A number of giants of the food & drinks, agri-equipment or agri-chemical industries have indeed headquarters or at least innovation centers in Europe. F&A Next: What do you think needs to change for innovation in food an agri to come to fruition? StartupFarmers: Building up on my previous answer: Europe is a leader in F&A innovation but lacks dedicated venture funds to support F&A startups with the relevant expertise and connections in the industry. Funds focusing on agritech represent a “strike force” of USD 1bn in the US, more than USD 500m in Israel but only USD 230m in Europe (and mostly in the Netherlands!). This situation will have to change to support F&A innovation across Europe… And StartupFarmers is working on it! F&A Next: What would be your key advice for start-ups in food and agri? StartupFarmers: Don’t sell promises but facts and numbers! In others words: focus on use case. We see too many startups that struggle to properly quantify the benefits of their products and end up with solutions that look promising on paper but are not economically viable in the field. For instance on precision Ag tools or biocontrol solutions, it is very important to be able to communicate on potential yield gains and/ or cost savings for a successful go-to-market.

Startup Envoy, Prince Constantijn to take the stage at F&A Next

We are honored and thrilled to have Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands with us at F&A Next 2017! In his role as Startup Envoy, Prince Constantijn will take the stage, share his views on innovation in food and agri and announce the winning startups of FoodBytes! @F&A Next. ‘Global challenges – like the food security challenge – demand transformative, sustainable and technical solutions. Startups can play a major and potentially decisive role in solving these challenges. But to do so startups, scale ups, investors, scientists and corporates must collaborate,’ says Startup Envoy and StartupFest co-founder Prince Constantijn ‘And not just within their own sector or technology. Groundbreaking innovations happen at the intersections of verticals and by applying existing and new technologies in other domains.’ Innovation is the leitmotiv in Prince Constantijn’s career. Constantijn van Oranje leads StartupDelta, a public-private partnership that boosts the startup ecosystem of The Netherlands. He advises multinational companies and the European Commission on their digital innovation strategy and holds a number of positions in both the public and private sector e.g. StartupDelta Special Envoy, a position aimed at making The Netherlands the European epicenter of innovation, Director Digital Technology & Macro Strategy at Macro Advisory Partners in London and New York, member of the EU High Level Group on Innovation and advisor to Andrus Ansip, the current Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market. An impressive résumé and a true asset to the F&A Next programme that is aimed stimulating innovation in food en agri to help warrant a food secure future.

GreenFood50 wins the Rabobank Startup of the Year Award 2017

On March 27, GreenFood50 won the Rabobank Startup of the Year Award 2017 during the Business Event Wageningen. Marc Arts, managing director GreenFood50:  ‘We are very happy with this Rabobank startup award. Besides the recognition this will help us to scale up our business in the coming years. It’s also a great opportunity to bring our innovative quinoa ingredients to the attention of food industry’. GreenFood50 based at Wageningen Campus develops, produces & sells innovative quinoa ingredients for tasty, sustainable & healthy food for a growing world population. These quinoa ingredients are applied in bakery products, salads, pastas, sauces, beverages, sports nutrition, healthy bars, snacks, vegetarian and gluten free products. During F&A Next a quinoa burger produced with GreenFood50 ingredients will be on the menu! ‘Our close co-operation with Wageningen University & Research and other leading international research organizations, ensure that the latest technologies and know-how are applied’. Ingredients of GreenFood50 are used on a daily base by the Dutch Top sport restaurant in Papendal where 370 athletes prepare themselves for the Olympics in PyeongChang and Tokyo. Marc: ‘GreenFood50 is built on our passion to provide tasty, sustainable and healthy food for a growing world population’. The GreenFood50 team has a diverse and international background with over 30 years of experience in the global food and agriculture industry. The team has the capabilities to translate customer needs into innovative products. GreenFood50 is supported by StartLife,   Wageningen University & Research and other partners.

Q&A with Fabio Ziemssen; Head of Food Tech and Food Innovation at METRO GROUP

Last month StartLife and METRO GROUP Wholesale & Food specialist, an internationally leading specialist in wholesale and food retail based in Germany signed a partner agreement in order to develop innovative FoodTech solutions. With this collaboration, METRO is also officially partnering with F&A Next. We had a chat with Fabio Ziemssen, Head of Food Tech and Food Innovation at METRO and learned more about his perspectives on innovation. F&A Next: Could you introduce yourself and METRO? Fabio: My name is Fabio Ziemssen and I am the head of Food Tech and Food Innovation at METRO GROUP Wholesale & Food Specialist. That means I am responsible for food innovations that have the ability to bring in disruptive, creative ideas into the existing food system, be it products or technologies like for example vertical farming or meat substitutes. F&A Next: Could you elaborate on your role in the food and agri innovation landscape? Fabio: My task is to identify partners with whom we can start new pilots, discover the future business model or retail model define the role of big retailers in a future where challenges like urbanization, growing population or the climate change are facing us. It is critical to have the right partners, the right solutions and new ideas to face these big challenges. F&A Next: What are the most prominent trends according to you? Fabio: The most prominent trends are also the most challenging ones. For example, one of them is alternative protein sources. Today we have 1.1 billion pigs, 280 million cows, and around 17 billion chicken on this planet. According to independent assessments current ways of meat production cause around 18% of global CO2 emission. This urges the industry to drive sustainable development and to search for new sources of protein. Thus everything that is a substitute product for meat and fish is a big trend. On the other hand, the big topic of vertical farming is emerging and with it all kind of solutions that speed up or target circular economy for the future. We are talking about everything that reuses biomass and decreases food waste and food loss. This includes traceability or transparency solutions as well as logistics solutions. The final big trend is everything that enables the consumer to become a producing consumer or prosumer. This trend ranges from small growing cubes for home use to 3D printing. It revolves around the customer evolving into the core element of the supply chain of tomorrow. We are not talking about a horizontal supply chain anymore, we are talking about circular economy and therefore the customer could be the one who is in the middle in data, production and supply chain infrastructure. F&A Next: METRO GROUP is a global company; can you shed some light on how food innovation is developing in Europe compared to regions like the US? Fabio: In Europe, I would say it’s very decentralized because we have hotspots in Holland (Wageningen), Italy (Milan) and Germany (Berlin). So if you want to compare EU to US, based on different cultural differences, many food startup places and startups hubs are emerging and this is something that is really interesting. F&A Next: What would your advice be for aspiring food start-ups? Fabio: Find the right people because the team is the key success factor for food startups. In addition, don’t be influenced by others, telling you what the right metrics are. In the food business the metrics are very different from a pure digital business. The ability to scale up is affected by many other factors and this is something that food start-ups should keep in mind. Last but not least, start-ups have to find the right partner network, not only with retailers but also with the right supplier, packaging company etc. They need to keep their supply chain very close, this is key in bringing the right product in the market.

Q&A with food lawyer Karin Verzijden on the convergence of nutrition and health

For all those innovators out there looking to ride the wave of the convergence of nutrition and health; this is not to be taken too lightly! What is ‘healthy food’? How can health benefits of food be communicated within the current legal framework? What other type of legal issues come into play considering future personalized food? We had a Q&A with Karin Verzijden; food lawyer at AXON Lawyers with a focus on agri-food and biotech and moderator of the discussion on the convergence of food & healthKarin assists plant breeders, food business operators and biotech companies bringing innovative products to the market.  F&A Next: What is “healthy food” and to what extent food can contribute to health? Karin: Although there is no such thing as a definition of healthy food, there are numerous guidelines on healthy diets. At the end of 2015, the WHO published a report that shocked food business operators (“FBO’s”), especially those involved in the meat industry. One of the WHO recommendations was to eat less processed meat, as the consumption of 50 g processed meat per day would increase the chance to develop colon cancer with 18 %. In line therewith, the Dutch dietary guidelines 2015 (“Richtlijnen Goede Voeding”) published by The Health Council propagate that a shift in the direction of a more plant-based and less animal-based dietary pattern improves health. In general it can be stated that according to various different health organisations, the consumption of certain foods or refraining therefrom can certainly contribute to health. F&A Next: How do specific groups benefit from e.g. personalized food? Karin: Specific groups of people may require specific types of food. For instance, it is known that elderly people recovering from surgery in the hospital lose a lot of muscle mass. They could benefit from so-called food for special medical purposes rich in protein. Anticipating that such food will enhance their recovery, this may in the end reduce hospitalization time and thereby costs. For the time being, this is as close as its gets to personalized food, but this may be different in future. F&A Next: How “personal” is food likely to become and what type of legal issues may come into play? Karin: In the future, it is conceivable that food will be delivered through the use of 3D-printing, both in a care setting and at home. In a care setting, one could imagine that very fragile patients having swallow problems could benefit from smooth printed food delivered on their plate in a very attractive way. When a hospital nutritionist would like to add extra vitamins or minerals, it is very likely that the upper limits laid down in the legislation on fortified foods needs to be taken into account. Furthermore, both in a home and care setting, interesting questions as to food safety may occur. For instance, when safety of 3D-printed food is compromised, who would be responsible for that? The manufacturer of the 3-D printing machine, the supplier of the raw materials or the user of the 3D-printing device, who in fact has promoted from a consumer into a “prosumer”? Finally, when 3D-printed foods hit the market as end products, they may be covered by the Novel Food legislation on new production methods. This would imply that such product would require a market authorization prior to marketing. F&A Next: How can FBO’s communicate on potential health benefits of food without incurring the risk that they advertise a medicinal product or a medical device? Karin: In the EU, there is a well-defined framework for nutrition and health claims to advertise health benefits of food products. A nutrition claim implies that a food product has certain beneficial properties in terms of nutrients and energy (“What’s in the product?”). Health claims state there is a relationship between food and health (“What does the product do?”) As long as the FBO sticks to the authorized claims (of the allowed variations) and they satisfy their conditions of use, there is no problem to be expected. FBO’s should however stay away from claiming that their food product can prevent or cure certain diseases, as they then clearly enter in to the medical arena. Based on criteria laid down medicinal products legislation, food and health authorities are authorized to take enforcement measures regarding food products that are advertised as having such medicinal properties. This can result into serious fines of six digits. F&A Next: What actions are required from FBO’s to substantiate the health effects of their food products? Karin: This depends on the type of claim made. For instance if the FBO claims his product is high in protein, he has to be able to justify upon request that the 20 % of the energy value of the product is provided by protein. When a FBO claims regarding a barley product that barley beta-glucans may reduce blood cholesterol, whereas high cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease, he should meet very specific criteria on the level of barley beta-glucan (3 g per day). Finally, when a FBO wants to obtain a so-called proprietary claim, he should initiate clinical trials in order to identify the relationship of cause and effect between a particular nutrient and its alleged health effect. The above and many other topics related to the convergence of nutrition and health will be addressed during a panel discussion moderated by Karin during the Thursday afternoon programme of F&A Next. Join in on the debate!

Calling all pioneering start-ups in food and agri

F&A Next is Europe’s premiere summit about innovation in food and agriculture. Fuelled by last year’s success, ‘F&A Next aims to be a permanent platform connecting food and agriculture start-ups to investors, serving as a springboard to greater innovation and a better deal for all,’ says Startlife’s Jan Meiling. ‘In 2016 F&A Next gathered some 150 start-ups, over 110 investors and 70 corporates from all over the world. In 2017 we aim to top that! By focusing on the high relevancy, high impact spearheads of F&A innovation. And by bringing the San Francisco originated pitching concept FoodBytes! to Europe.’ Since FoodBytes! launched in February 2015, more than 750 companies from 19 countries have applied to pitch to over 1,000 event attendees. Why pitch?
  • F&A Next will offer the opportunity to pitch to a unique field of investors and corporates.
  • We will support you optimizing your pitch.
  • We will use our communications’ infrastructure to spread the word about your business model.
  • F&A Next will offer ample opportunity to network.
What does pitching entail?
  • Pitch for 3.5 minutes to a large audience of investors, industry leaders, media and entrepreneurs.
  • Ten runner-up companies will be selected to give 60-second pitches.
  • Have dedicated display space to showcase your product or service.
  • Be in the running to win the People’s Choice, Judges’ Choice or Highly Commended Award.
  • Take part in an invite-only session of networking and mentorship with industry experts and the FoodBytes! judges and mentors the day before the event.
What are the application criteria?
  • Business model/scalability: you address your revenue model, competitors, how to scale, customer acquisition and cost base. You know your margins and how they can improve as it scales. High growth market opportunity.
  • Product/technology: your product/service has a competitive advantage and high barriers to entry.
  • Customers/traction: your team is on track and is building something that consumers or the industry needs / wants. You understand your consumer or users’ needs. You have done research to evaluate competitive landscape and has validated a need.
  • Sustainability/social good: concept is focused on the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet.
  • Innovation & impact: your concept is a game-changing approach to solving a problem or gap in the market that could have major impact at scale.
To conclude with the words of one of last year’s winners: ‘where are you going to find 150-200 investors together in one place, ready to listen to your story and give you face to face feedback? It saves time, money and energy. So start pitching!’

Program update: focusing on smart farming and food & health

F&A Next 2017’s program focuses two of food and agri most significant innovative spearheads: the shift towards smart farming and the convergence of food and health. Rabobank’s Jeroen Leffelaar explains why. Smart Farming ‘I think we are all aware of the necessity to farm “smarter” in order to improve yields and to meet changing consumer demand in the various parts of the world whilst reducing the ecological footprint. Probably less of us are aware of the complexity; it differs per crop, geography, local farming conditions, etc. And whilst there is no single solution, we do feel the impact of a global declining farming acreage per capita land and a changing climate. At F&A Next we will address the gradual shift to smart farming from all angles, including farmers who will elaborate on their challenges and are keen to debate solutions with the audience. The convergence of food and health ‘The convergence of food and health is fuelled by changing consumer behaviour as a consequence of increasing purchasing power, urbanisation and westernisation of food consumption(s). This is collectively impacting human health. The facts are clear: some 2 billion people around the world are overweight, 30% of these 2 billion people is obese; the impact on the cost of healthcare, labour productivity and overall vitality is massive. The food industry can play an important role in improvement of our wellbeing by offering healthier nutrition, tailored to our individual requirements. There are many innovations in food for the prevention or early treatment of diseases especially those related to aging. We will debate such innovations, receptivity by consumers and the various challenges related to the convergence of healthcare and mainstream food.’ The F&A Next 2017 program in a nutshell (speakers will be confirmed and announced soon!) On Wednesday afternoon, F&A Next will address the relevance of corporate involvement in disruptive innovation and the needs of (early stage) start-ups. F&A Next will also host the first European edition of FoodBytes! for ground-breaking pitches.
  • Interactive discussion: Where to go for seed capital, 4 early stage investors        are challenged on their propositions
  • Keynote: Changing consumer behaviour and the urge for (disruptive) innovation
  • Interactive discussion: Corporate involvement in disruptive innovation, 4 corporates will elaborate on their different approaches to corporate innovation
  • FoodBytes!: 10 x 60 second pitches
  • FoodBytes!: 10 x 3.5 minute pitches plus audience Q & A
  • FoodBytes!: announcement of the people’s choice- & the judge’s choice-award
  • Networking: Drinks & Bytes
For Thursday we have programmed food and agri themes relevant for investors, start-ups, corporates ánd farmers. This year we will debate the gradual shift to smart farming from all relevant angles as last year’s edition provided the insight that investors and start-ups have a limited understanding of what farmers really require. In addressing the convergence of food and health, the other key theme, we will look beyond the trends by discussing the hype versus the facts, the impact of personalized food and the various challenges related to communicating health claims. In F&A Next style many start-ups will be involved in panel discussions, enabling them to motivate their solutions or innovations.  Morning
  • Introduction to the gradual shift to smart farming
  • A global farmer’s view on innovation in farming
  • From intuitive to data intensive farming
  • Interactive discussion: innovations for better agronomic decisions
  • The impact of climate change on farming practises
  • The growing need for crop innovation
Lunchbreak Afternoon
  • Food&health – facts versus fairy tales
  • Food as healthcare
  • Personalized nutrition, just for You
  • Catalysing food & health innovations
  • Interactive discussion: convergence of food & health
  • Drinks & Bites

F&A Next brings Foodbytes! to Europe

In 2017 F&A Next hosts FoodBytes! F&A Next will increase your insight in the full depth and breadth of the food and agriculture innovation landscape with a programme brimful with key note speakers, academic experts, industry leaders addressing the latest developments, trends and research results. With FoodBytes! F&A Next provides aspiring start-ups and scale-ups ready to reach for the sky with an international pitching platform aiming to bring new ideas + capital to the plate. Pairing creativity with capital FoodBytes!, as a pitching format a start-up itself, has seen a boom in development since its inception early 2015. Originating from innovation hotbed San Francisco, FoodBytes! has one simple mission in mind – to find the most innovative and ground-breaking concepts in food and agriculture, and pair that creativity with the capital needed to bring it to market. After the first two events in San Francisco, Foodbytes! expanded into other regions within the US; Boulder in Colorado and Brooklyn, New York, offering over a hundred food and ag startups access to knowledge, networks and potentially finance. Late last year Foodbytes! ventured beyond the US borders for the first time. The pitching format was an integral part of the international Farm to Fork Summit in Sydney, Australia. And this May for the first time in Europe; Foodbytes! will be hosted by F&A Next offering start-ups in food and agriculture an international stage for their innovative business models.    

Start-up Stories: N-Chroma & Phenospex

N-Chroma, a start-up producing natural colours for use in food, textile and cosmetics using biotechnological methods, won F&A Next’s early-stage start-up pitching competition. Pitching at F&A Next provided N-Chroma with a lot of impetus to drive their business forward.  Since F&A Next, N-Chroma initiated a project at Wageningen University and Research to optimize their technology, being a student at Wageningen University and Research, N-Chroma’s CEO Constantinos Patinios managed to increase guidance by the university’s supervisors and the company entered G-BiB, a biotech competition. ‘With a team of one professor, one post-doc, one PhD and 4 master students, we have high hopes of winning,’ says Constantinos. With its sensors and analysis software to assess and analyse plant performance for agriculture, Phenospex emerged as winner of the scale-up pitching competition. Phenospex aims high; the company aspires to become a world leader in plant analysis and automated processes related to plant screening and agriculture. Winning at F&A Next ‘provided us with good feedback from investors,’ says Grégoire Hummel. ‘We worked hard on our business plans. After both pitches (at F&A Next and FoodBytes! in Boulder, Colorado [editorial note]) we had a list of 10 investors that we approached and went on with four venture capitalists into more detailed discussions. We hope to close our deal by the end of Q1 in 2017.’ ‘Boulder or Bust!’ Winning at F&A Next earned both companies a ticket to FoodBytes! in Boulder, Colorado in the US. FoodBytes! is a pitching format solely dedicated to promoting and stimulating innovation in food and agriculture. ‘The vibe at Boulder was excellent,’ says Grégoire. ‘The start-up scene in the US still does have another vibe than the European one and in some regards seems more respected. For Constantinos pitching for a US audience was ‘great experience’, that taught him to focus on the customer rather than on great technology. Since then, Constantinos has re-directed his focus on ‘easier accessible markets that require less legislation for my product and that will give fast returns on investment.’ ‘Start Pitching!’ & ‘Be Persistent!’ Grégroire has learned to ‘always keep an open mind for different scenarios of funding, constellations of investors or even the amount of money you raise. Know who you talk to and what they are looking for themselves.’ Other than that Grégoires advises aspiring start-ups to ‘be persistent,’ there are no sure shots in the innovation arena. Constantinos reflects on the unique potential of summits like F&A Next: ‘where are you going to find 150-200 investors together in one place, ready to listen to your story and give you face to face feedback? It saves time, money and energy. So start pitching!’    

Looking back & ahead

As one of Startup Fest Europe’s flagship events, F&A Next with some 450 participants from all over the world including 150 start-ups, over 110 investors and 70 corporates, was off to a flying start in 2016. ‘Thanks to the great support by connected investors and enthusiastic start-ups, we managed to develop an inspiring and well attended event, exceeding expectations of many including mine,’ says Rabobank’s Jeroen Leffelaar. Startlife’s Jan Meiling was overwhelmed with the positive feedback, which gave him ‘confidence that the 2017 edition will again fulfil a real need amongst the community of food & agtech innovators.’ F&A Next 2016 made visible and tangible the interdependency between large corporates increasingly seeking to involve start-ups in their innovation strategies and start-ups needing a corporate partner at some stage of their development cycle. ‘This interdependency creates a mutual interest which is really giving a boost to innovation in the food and agriculture landscape,’ says Jan. F&A Next did indeed trigger a broad interest in food & agtech according to Jeroen: ‘from both Dutch and international investors, startups from all corners of the world and from corporates which were pretty lukewarm initially.’ F&A Next progressing to a permanent platform F&A Next’s success in 2016 provided all the motivation and inspiration to start preparing for the 2017 edition. Continued and increased support by Wageningen University & Research and Rabobank fuel the ambition to transform F&A Next into a permanent, ongoing platform for innovation in food and agriculture. The commitment to F&A Next comes natural for both organizations. ‘A food secure future is at the nucleus of our Banking for Food strategy,’ Jeroen explains. ‘We will need to produce more food, with less ecological impact, less water, less chemicals, less arable land per capita. Innovation is key to that challenge. Our contribution as a food and agri business bank, goes beyond “just” providing finance. We aim to open our networks and share our knowledge as well.’ Initiated by among others Wageningen University & Research, ‘Startlife has been incubating Food & Agtech start-ups exclusively for 12 years now,’ says Jan. ‘Having Wageningen University Campus as a venue for F&A Next, is truly inspiring. It’s a manifestation of the commitment of one of the global leaders to innovation in food and agriculture. Many disruptive technological innovations emerge from this campus, even more liaise with it to find their ideal research and business partners.’ Above and beyond the 2016 edition How exactly? Jan: ‘F&A Next 2017 will showcase even more cutting edge business opportunities and we expect participating start-ups and corporates from more than 30 countries. F&A Next is determined to service the F&A innovators community with a premium menu.’ ‘In the 2017 edition of F&A Next, we will host FoodBytes!, a successful pitching platform developed by my Rabobank colleagues in San Francisco,’ Jeroen adds. ‘This will provide international start-ups with a solid pitching platform. On the second day of F&A Next we will address food & agtech themes relevant for investors, start-ups, corporates ánd farmers. Last time we noted that investors and start-ups have limited understanding of what farmers really need. Are the innovations matching their requirements? So we will address the gradual shift to smart farming from various angles. Convergence of food and health are also key themes. We will look beyond the trends by discussing the hype versus the facts, health claims and related legislation. In F&A Next style we will involve many start-ups in the panel discussions, enabling them to motivate their solutions or innovations.’ Apart from being the most relevant annual event in its category, F&A Next is looking into the development of a digital, inspirational, informational & matchmaking platform as well as an adjacent acceleration program for best-in-class advanced new businesses. To be continued!