Nestlé, Ajinomoto, and Barilla’s Blu1877 join China Food Tech Hub
China Food Tech Hub is a consortium organised by VC firm Bits x Bites to foster cooperation between start-ups and corporations
Swiss food giant Nestlé, Japanese biotech group Ajinomoto, and Blu1877, the innovation arm of Italian pasta maker Barilla, are new company members of China Food Tech Hub, the consortium organised by Bits x Bites to foster cooperation between start-ups and corporations. Bits x Bites is China’s pioneer food-tech venture capital firm.
Since its launch a year ago, China Food Tech Hub has expanded to 15 member corporations spread along the supply chain.
Company members represent every sector of the industry, from consumer foods and animal feed to flavours, ingredients, and agricultural processing.
At China Food Tech Hub, companies gain a front-row seat to see the latest start-up innovations, meet disruptors who could bring fresh ideas for building new growth, and join an evolving Chinese food innovation ecosystem that was non-existent just a few short years ago.
“By joining the China Food Tech Hub, we want to enlarge Blu1877‘s network,” said Michela Petronio, vice president at Blu1877.
“[We] want to reach out to visionary teams and find new opportunities for innovation and collaboration for Barilla, particularly in plant-based, sustainability, well-being, and convenience trends,” she added.
Blu1877 has recently launched its start-up innovation programme, Good Food Makers.
China Food Tech Hub puts together corporate heads of R&D, food innovation teams, and business unit leads as well as Chinese and international start-ups up and down the supply chain.
These connections have become even more important in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, with new opportunities emerging but travel restricted.
The China Food Tech Hub recently convened its members online with start-up founders solving problems along the food value chain with innovations like AI, automation, and synthetic biology.
“In food and agriculture, Chinese scientists are also some of the most prolific producers of scientific research patents and papers”Matilda Ho, Bits x Bites
“Over the past decade, China has had its foot on the gas pedal to accelerate science and technology development,” said Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, recognising that China became in April the world’s biggest source of applications for international patents.
“In food and agriculture, Chinese scientists are also some of the most prolific producers of scientific research patents and papers,” Ho added.
Ho pointed out that converting research into commercial successes will take time and a supportive network in the background.
“As an agrifood investor focused on the China market, we are thrilled to be working here on the ground with a growing community of corporations to support quality founders as they drive toward commercialisation and scale,” Ho concluded.
China Food Tech Hub company members
Bits x Bites’ initiative has already attracted many big players in the food, agriculture, and technology sectors, including Ferrero, Givaudan, Griffith Foods, LDC, Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, Novozymes, Nutreco, and Sumitomo, to name but a few.
“China is undoubtedly a key high growth market for Givaudan now and in the near future,” commented Alexandre Bastos, global director of innovation at Givaudan, the Swiss manufacturer of flavours, fragrances.
Bastos said Givaudan has seen an emerging food-tech ecosystem in the market. “We believe these innovators will play a key role in accelerating and customising key global trends such as alternative protein, cell culture, farming of the future to regional consumers,” he added.
“Together we trade industry and technology insights and explore synergistic opportunities”Daniel Deng, Mars Wrigley
For Daniel Deng, product development director for gum and mints at Mars Wrigley Confection in China, the China Food Tech Hub bridges two extremes in China’s food innovation: multinationals and disruptive start-ups.
“Together we trade industry and technology insights and explore synergistic opportunities. Mars is so happy to be part of this ecosystem and to collaboratively find breakthroughs in food technology and new product experiences,” Deng concluded
Headquartered in the Xuhui District, Bits x Bites invests in start-ups from all corners of the world to make an impact on China’s food system. There are 11 brands in the portfolio including Ryan Bethencourt’s Wild Earth and non-gmo culture meat company Future Meat.