Fresh water on the front line, fixing food waste, and a sustainable solution to food shortage - We look at a snapshot of the innovative agrifood startups heading to the EIT Food Venture Summit next month
EIT Food is an organisation, backed by The European Union, with a mission to transform how food is produced, distributed, and consumed. It is at the forefront of a huge food innovation community guiding and accelerating food innovation through a variety of means, including an entrepreneurship programme that offers support for startups just starting out, those who are ready to validate and test their idea, and those who are ready to scale commercially. Next month, between 8-9 November, more than 100 startups will convene at the EIT Food Ventures Summit, to present and network with investors, corporates, and influencers from across the food community. We look at a selection of that group, who share the mission to reduce risk for ‘a fair and resilient food system’.
A water bottle that purifies water on the front line
Early-stage startup OptySun is based in Kharkiv in Ukraine – a city in the immediate vicinity of the front line of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Co-founders Roman Tomashevskiy and Bohdan Vorobiov set out to solve the problem that faces more than 2 billion people globally: a lack of free access to clean and safe drinking water. The original concept was a portable solar-powered device that could purify water of any quality, without the need for any chemicals. The concept relied on the combination of multiple technologies: ozone, ultraviolet, and a membrane filter.
However, in light of the situation in its own country OptySun has pivoted to create a water bottle that leverages the same concept as their original innovation. The team are currently in the final stages of creating a prototype that will be showcased at the Food Venture Summit. The bottle’s main component is a cup, which acts as its ‘brain’ and has the ability to disinfect water by removing 99.9 per cent of bacteria using medical ultraviolet light. The bottle was designed according to NATO standards to provide clean water for the military on the front lines, which is why it has additional levels of protection. It is currently undergoing certification and various strength tests. Once the bottle has passed all certifications and starts purifying water for military needs, the plan is to make the bottle commercially available.
A smart container that extends the shelf life of fresh produce by three times
Co-founder of Turkey-based startup Freshsens, Baran Baykurt Emiroglu, believes that the perishable supply chain is broken. He had the idea for a new way to transport and store fresh produce as a result of working in post-harvest storage, an industry his father had also worked in. He couldn’t work out why the industry standard of 40 per cent wastage on fresh produce was accepted as normal and factored into the cost of doing business. Freshsens produces containers equipped with artificial intelligence, IoT, and controlled atmosphere technology to keep fresh produce fresh. The sensors monitor respiration levels inside the containers. Rates are not consistent between each piece of fruit or veg, which means some produce goes bad faster than others. Sensors can trigger an alert when produce is about to go bad, which allows companies using the containers to move away from a ‘first in, first out’ policy towards produce.
Freshsens is currently working with two fruit producers in Turkey and has stored more than 2 million cherries over the summer, for more than 44 days – normal storage time is 10-15 days – increasing shelf life and increasing sales as more of the fruit was available to sell. The company plans to expand its offering to cover a wider range of fruits and vegetables, as well a mushrooms, herbs, and fresh-cut flowers.
The startup will have a stand at EIT Food Ventures. Read more
A WIRELESS SYSTEM FOR PRECISION INDOOR AGRICULTURE
The founding team at Spanish startup LiFI4Food have drawn on their experience as telecommunications engineers to pioneer the use of LiFi technology to facilitate precision agriculture. LiFi – or light fidelity – is a wireless system that transmits data via LED or infrared light. Unlike WiFi, which uses radio frequency, LiFI only requires a light source with a chip to transmit an internet signal through light waves.
The technology enables precision agriculture indoors by combining the best-coloured light for crop growth along with communicating insights around the health of crops, allowing growers to optimise conditions and maximise yields. The LiFi4Food system is battery-free, which gives it some sustainability creds. The overall goal of its founders, Javier Talavante and Borja Genovés, however, is to ensure a secure a sustainable future food supply. They looked at population growth, climate change, and soil degradation, and wanted to come up with a solution that addressed potential food shortages in the future. By optimising the use of resources, LiFi4Food can save on water and lighting as well as labour costs. Read more
Written By: Angela Everitt
The sixth edition of the EIT Food Venture Summit will bring together Europe’s most cutting-edge agrifood startups with major investors, corporates, and thought leaders from across the food community. For more information and to attend, visit eitfoodventuresummit.eu
25th October 2023