EIT Food expands to Latin America for burgeoning food tech start-ups

By Augustus Bambridge-Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

The hub will be based in  Campinas, São Paulo. Image Source: Ranimiro Lotufo Neto/Getty Images
The hub will be based in Campinas, São Paulo. Image Source: Ranimiro Lotufo Neto/Getty Images

Related tags EIT Food start-up agrifood

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), partnering with Foodtech HUB Latam, is expanding its Food Accelerator Network (FAN) to Brazil, where it will open a hub that will help develop burgeoning agrifood-tech start-ups in the Latin America region.

The hub, which will be based in Campinas, São Paulo, is FAN’s second outside Europe, after the one in Haifa, Israel, and the first outside Horizon Europe-associated states. It will offer a 2-3 month programme for agrifood-tech start-ups, enabling them to accelerate, further validate their technology, and prepare for entering the market. Applications for start-ups to join the programme will open in December.

FAN has expanded to Latin America because it is a “key region when we are talking about food, accounting for 14% of global food production and 45% of net international agrifood trade​,” Benoit Buntinx, Director of Business Creation at EIT Food, told FoodNavigator.

The region therefore plays a pivotal role in world food security and addressing other global challenges, including the climate crisis​.”

There are also certain rights to consider. “There is a specific need to support agriculture while protecting tropical forests and the rights of Indigenous Peoples​.”

Agrifood-tech’s new horizons

FAN’s past hubs, which have included Haifa as well as Paris, Helsinki, Bilbao, and Munich, have utilised academic and corporate knowledge to coach agritech start-ups into readiness for going commercial. Companies such as PepsiCo, Nestlé and Givaudan have provided ​expertise to nascent agrifood-tech companies.

In the past, start-ups that have worked in the programme have included Farminsect, which ‘offers farmers a solution to use regional organic residues to produce insect larvae’, and Spoontainable, which develops edible ice-creams spoons. While there are as yet no confirmed start-ups for Brazil’s hub since applications have not opened, start-ups in Brazil and Chile have already expressed interest.

The programme “is mainly focused on supporting start-ups to be partnership-ready, help them to run a technology validation pilot with the right partner so that it accelerates their access to the market​,” Buntinx told us.

Therefore our most important value proposition is to connect the start-ups with our network of over 200 partners from all EU countries (and now Brazil/LATAM), including research centres, corporates, and investors across the whole food system, from primary production to upcycling of food waste and food packaging.​”

The programme also gives start-ups access to key events. “EIT Food provides maximum exposure to the start-ups through facilitating their participation in top agrifood-teach events, such as the EIT Food Venture Summit, Future Food Tech, Anuga, and more​.”

Brazil’s EIT will focus on key themes such as food bioprocessing, next generation of plant-sourced solutions, and sustainable food packaging. The three themes, according to Buntinx, were chosen “based on the feedback, interest and challenges shared by our EIT Food partners (especially corporates), in line with EIT Food’s three Mission areas. We then discussed with our Brazilian partner which would be the most relevant themes for LATAM stakeholders, and decided to focus on these three themes​.”

While the agrifood-tech start-ups will be expected to innovate, they will also be chosen in accordance with how far they fulfil FAN’s three mission areas: “Healthier Lives Through Food”, “A Net-Zero Food System” and “Reducing Risk for a Fair & Resilient Food System".

The new hub will be adopting the same guidelines and selection criteria as all the other FAN Hubs in Europe,​” Buntinx told us. “It means that one of the most important eligibility criteria is that the applying start-ups should demonstrate that they are developing an innovative solution that can directly generate impact in line with EIT Food's three Mission areas.​”

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