Foodtech start-ups attending the summit on 11-12 March reflect on the challenges in the food ecosystem and reveal the strides made to nourish people and the planet sustainably
The Future Food-Tech flagship summit on 11-12 March will unlock new partnerships and spotlight new technologies that offer moonshot solutions for a food system under stress.
Ahead of the summit, the event’s team asked 22 innovators what drives them to achieve their ambitious and complex goals? Find their answers below, and join the Future Food-Tech summit to continue the conversation.
“This idea stemmed from my hunt for good quality milk to satisfy my cheese making hobby. What was once just an idea, has now become a global business with our team working on cell-based milk production and the development of bioactive components found in human milk.
“We want to protect and nourish our people and planet in the most sustainable way possible,” said Fengru Lin, founder and chief executive.
“We started with our mission to create a kinder, greener tomorrow by developing new ways to make the foods you love today — starting in the dairy aisle. That drives our work every day, and also moves us towards our long-term vision of building a more equitable, resilient, and diverse food system for all of us,” said Tim Geistlinger, chief scientific officer.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it, that it’s someone else’s responsibility. But it is mine. It’s yours. It’s all of ours.
“Our efforts to solve this are accretive, and our progress is compounding. There is a better future that exists only because we didn’t give up now – a future-us who are grateful we believed in this dream,” said Phaedra Randolph, founder and chief executive.
“Animals are slaughtered for applications that can barely be traced back to the respective animal, meaning that their compounds are purely used for taste and texture, such as egg proteins and dairy proteins,” said Tony Maartens, co-founder.
He added: “By developing a technology that enables us to produce compounds that can mitigate the reliance on animals for flavour and texture, and is harmless to the environment as well, we hope to be able to provide food security and food access to the future generations.”
Ranjani Varadan, vice president R&D, said: “It is crucial to the survival of our species that we take a science-based approach to building a sustainable global food system – one that can scale to feed the growing population.
“Our goal is to foster and lift up a generation of thought leaders that are working to solve the greatest threats facing our planet: climate change and biodiversity loss.”
“A scalable means of creating scalable start-ups that collectively steer large-scale change is possible, said Logan Sullivan and Huw Thomas, chief executive and president.
“Attempts thus far in the food system are lacking, alternative protein presents an unprecedentedly high-leverage opportunity to change that, and the climate clock is ticking. We can’t imagine spending our waking hours on something more urgent and vital for humans, animals and earth than exactly what we’re working on at Counterfactual Ventures.”
“In a world where a third or more of the food we grow goes to waste, even as one-in-nine people goes hungry, a radical rethinking of that calculus could fill the gap without asking more of an overtaxed earth,” said James Rogers, founder and chief executive. “We see that reality, and hear the call to meet the twin challenges of climate change and a future that has to eat.
“We’re driven to pioneer a more participatory, sustainable food system that can feed more people, and help its stakeholders – from farmers to grocers – do better by wasting less.
Working with nature, Apeel enables transformations across the fresh food supply chain, while significantly reducing the food waste that taxes the climate and wastes precious resources. While tackling that waste to create more abundance, we’re also helping reduce the need for single-use plastic and refrigeration, and ultimately increasing access to nutrition and markets in a way that is good for people and the planet.”
Jim Laird, founder and chief executive said: “Addressing the need for sustainable protein at scale without the reliance on animal sources addresses many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, amongst these, we are most motivated by #2 – Zero Hunger and #13- Climate Action.
“We make food with proven market acceptance, and our B2B model accelerates the transformation in the protein food system to have impact at scale.”
Thomas Jonas, chief executive, said: “The greatest challenge for humanity is how we feed everyone, especially in the face of climate change.
“By choosing optimism, we can find a way to do more with less — managing our shrinking resources, while feeding a growing population. Technologies like our liquid-air interface fermentation innovation, enable us to feed the world using just a fraction of the land, water and energy of traditional agriculture.”
Those Vegan Cowboys
Chief executive Jaap Korteweg said: “We’re on track to produce classic, grass-fed cheese without the cow. Just the real thing, including the casein that makes cheese taste so good. Because of the direct use of grass, our technology has moonshot potential.
“Grass is the most sustainable and natural crop in the world. It grows everywhere, and there is no need for chemicals or fertilisers.”
“The overall driver is knowing we need to drastically improve the way we produce food,” said Matt Gibson,co-founder and chief executive. “If we look at how we mass-produce food today and the colossal negative impacts this brings to animals, the environment, and ultimately us as humans, it provides a huge ambition for New Culture to take part in the solution.
“I am sure this feeling resonates within the precision fermentation ecosystem of today and the start-ups in our field, striving towards complex world-changing goals.”
Iñigo Charola, co-founder and chief executive said: “Our main drive is to apply our technology to live in a better world. In a world threatened by climate change, population growth poses a challenge when it comes to combining nutrition and sustainability.
“Cultivated meat is positioned as one of the greatest innovations of our century, integrating food safety, animal welfare and sustainability in a unique product aimed at all types of consumers.
“Cultivated meat comes from the culture of animal muscle cells obtained by biopsy, which avoids animal sacrifice and reduces the consumption of natural resources.”
Gastón Paladini, co-founder and chief executive, said: “Combined with sustainable farming practices and the low-tech application of the new plant varieties, our technology has the potential to help overcome a lot of the how-to-feed-the-world challenges, tackle the present environmental concerns regarding land usage, crop production, and water, as well as to keep up with consumers’ demands on diets and animal welfare.”
Atlast Food Co.
Eben Bayer, founder and chief executive, said: “Animal agriculture is one of the primary human practices harming our planet’s ecosystem. If we are to live sustainably and in harmony with Spaceship Earth we must change our cultivation practices. Our purpose in forming Atlast was to crack the code on the biggest sector of meat, whole cuts, which are currently unaddressed with today’s plant-based offerings.
“Ultimately, change is driven by consumer choice, which is why we set out to create a delicious, nutritious, whole-cut plant-based meat, something that has never been done before.
“Our first product, MyBacon, was created to make the world’s best plant-based bacon, and it makes choosing to skip traditional bacon — the product folks say they are most reluctant to give up in their meat diets – an easy choice.”
Lou Cooperhouse, president and chief executive, said: “Global seafood consumption is at an all-time high, yet many fisheries are already harvested at or beyond their maximum capacity.
“Our seafood supply chain is vulnerable to the climate crisis, and changing ocean ecosystems create uncertainty in the lives of billions of consumers who rely on seafood as part of a healthy diet.
“Meanwhile, production cannot keep pace with demand. We need a new solution. BlueNalu is developing that solution to provide the ultimate seafood experience, providing the same nutritional benefits of seafood but without any of the negatives.
“BlueNalu will complement wild-caught and farm-raised seafood while benefiting human health and ocean health and encouraging responsible food consumption. Knowing that our products can have such a profound impact on food security and the conservation of our natural world makes me optimistic about the future.”
Will Patrick, co-founder and chief executive, said: “Biomanufacturing – synthetic biology, precision fermentation – has the potential to be the primary manufacturing technology for pharmaceuticals, materials, foods, cosmetics, and many consumer products.
“If we can make biomanufacturing development and scale-up radically better – 10x speed improvements or 10x lower cost – then we’ll greatly accelerate the number and speed of biologically produced molecules that actually get developed and made.
“We need fundamental technology improvement that makes biomanufacturing cheaper and easier to scale. But we haven’t had that. Genomic technologies (sequencing, synthesis, CRISPR) have been revolutionary, but nothing has really changed in terms of the biomanufacturing infrastructure. We’re still using the same bioreactor and purification technologies that produced human insulin in the early 80s. This has got to change for our entire industry to grow up and make a huge impact on the world.”
Nick Ouzounov, chief technology officer, said: “A deep love of science and respect for nature is at the heart of everything we do at Geltor. Our mission is to positively impact billions of lives through biodesign.
“Our cutting-edge, natural technological solution is helping brands create product formulas that are as effective as they are eco-friendly.
“We don’t have to tax our planet’s natural resources to have high-quality protein ingredients – we can use biodesign to work with nature to create the sustainable products consumers want and that our planet needs.”
Darko Mandich, co-founder and chief executive: “Now, more than ever, we need to prioritise transformative solutions over incremental improvements for the industries that make the biggest impact.
“Our team at MeliBio is driven by our vision to create a better world in which we can consume our favourite animal superfood (honey), but produced by science, not by animals. Protecting and saving bees, especially wild and native ones, we keep our Planet green and allow it to flourish.”
Eugene Wang, co-founder and chief executive, said: “We have successfully developed a series of alternative protein from our microalgae that can compete with conventional animal or plant-based protein in price, functionality, and even nutrition but using just a fraction of time, land, water, energy, and all the resources needed previously by conventional protein.”
Matias Muchnick, founder and chief executive, said: “A human mind would never think that a combination of pineapple and cabbage could recreate the taste of milk, but ‘Giuseppe’ – our artificial intelligence – can and does, and people love it.
“That’s the power of introducing a new technology into an obsolete system: you’re adding a whole new world of innovative possibilities that are good for us and the environment and are here to change the entire food system to a more sustainable one.”
“Understanding the fundamental molecular composition of every natural food and plant source allows us to unearth the benefits that have remained secret and untapped for thousands of years,” said Nora Khaldi, founder and chief scientific officer.
“It also allows us to utilise food to its full potential, to utilise the knowledge we already have on healthy products and point them better in more personalised way to improve individual health. This was impossible to do before the advent of AI, Machine Learning and other technologies such as Mas-spectrometry. But as we enter the 21st century, we are on the cusp of something big.”
“Go!Drop fat replacer for plant-based products is a key enabler in the next generation of vegan sustainable plant-based products,” said Andrés Montefeltro, co-founder and chief executive.
“We developed great meat mimic products, and now we are working in amazing vegan cheese and yogurt formulas by replacing coconut oil and introducing a fermentation step. Go!Drop is a Moonshot technology because it will accelerate and support the plant-based movement by allowing better and more nutritional product development.”
There’s no shortage of ambition for these pioneering leaders. With food security, sustainability, the circular economy, novel foods, and the next phase of plant-based high on the agenda at this year’s flagship Future Food-Tech summit, attending the event on 11-12 March 11-12 is an opportunity not to be missed.
The Future Food-Tech summit is designed to unite the food industry, unlock in-depth knowledge, and offer unbeatable networking opportunities to scale moonshot solutions for a food system under stress.
Date published: 5 February 2021