Baking the Future: ‘First’ accelerator for start-ups in the bakery sector launches in Spain

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/John M Lund Photography Inc
GettyImages/John M Lund Photography Inc

Related tags: Bakery

In an industry first, a new accelerator programme is focusing on sustainability, quality, and innovation to ‘build the future of bakery’. FoodNavigator catches up with Ana Thielen, Cereal Manager, Europastry, to ask what prompted the initiative.

The new accelerator is being launched by global baked goods supplier Europastry’s new bakery and pastry R&D centre, Cereal.

Entitled ‘Baking the Future’, the six-month programme aims to support start-ups the world over develop their product, test them in the market, and create new business models.

“Through the programme, Europastry boosts the most cutting-edge start-ups, working with them in the development of solutions and services that can add value to their core business and also build their future business,” ​Ana Thielen, Cereal Manager, told FoodNavigator.

Nurturing ‘disruptors’

The programme stems from Europastry’s Baking the Future challenge, which first launched in 2019. It was at this time that the bakery business started collaborating with ‘emerging start-ups disrupting the bakery industry’, Thielen recalled.

Among the challenge winners is Belgian start-up Nearero, with which Europastry is now actively collaborating. Nearero has developed a QR code application that allows users to obtain bakery product information.

“We have incorporated [the start-up’s] QR code technologies into our Cristallino range of products to let consumers be even more aware of the traceability aspect with the products,” ​explained Thielen.

Now, Europastry is ‘deepening’ its relationship with the start-up and ‘disruptive innovator’ landscape via its R&D centre in Barcelona, Spain.

“It allows Europastry to get to know the accelerated projects in depth, boost their growth in a symmetrical way to the needs of the organisation, accelerate innovation, and take an advanced competitive position with respect to other players in the market,” ​the Cereal Manager revealed.

“The accelerator programme will end with a demo day where we aim to see all the selected start-ups pitching their progress in front of a pool of investors and corporations that are willing to join us and fund their growth.”

Sustainability, quality, and innovation

Specifically, the accelerator is looking for a maximum of five projects that will be assessed by an Evaluation Committee. These projects will focus on three main aspects: sustainability, quality, and innovation.

“We look for products that provide that sustainability factor, that connect with today’s consumers and have outstanding ethical values,” ​explained Thielen. Entrepreneurs that ‘break environmental barriers’ with more sustainable packaging, re-use of leftovers, and recycling, are encouraged to apply.

Concerning quality, the company is prioritising working with the ‘best raw materials’ to create products that have a higher nutritional value and improve health. These could include ancient cereals, seeds, whole grain flours, and vegetable fats such as olive oil. Such ingredients may also improve taste, texture, durability, and regeneration.

“Last but not least, innovation is a key driver not only for us, but for the entire food industry,” ​we were told. The accelerator is interested in technological innovations that improve customer experience, focusing on customer behaviour, transparency, and traceability.

 “In our case, we merge the tradition of the recipes of the master bakers with the innovation brought by the latest technologies.”

‘There is still room for improvements’

Europastry believes it is well placed, as ‘one the most sustainable bakeries across the globe’, to offer such a programme.

“At Cereal, we produce excellent products that generate zero CO₂ emissions, respecting the environment and reducing the impact of our activity on nature,” ​said Thielen.

The company also takes care of its relationship with the field and raw materials, we were told, while always prioritising good practices and proximity to ensure maximum product quality.

“We recognise that there is still room for improvements to make even more sustainable and healthier products, being more efficient especially with upcycling and recycling new generation technologies.

“The best way to do that is by building long-term open innovation programmes like Baking the Future, having the chance to partner and share the same mission of improving the industry, and boosting the most disruptive innovations through collaboration.”

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