Startup Innovation Challenge 2019 - Finalists & Winners

Category: Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient

Amai Proteins - WINNER

Amai Proteins combines Biotechnology with Agile-Integrative Computational Protein Design (AI-CPD) to produce tasty, healthy and food-compatible proteins for the food and beverage (F&B) market. The first application is a hyper-sweet designer protein that tastes like sugar, is healthy (zero calories, zero glycemic index) and is food compatible (stable for pasteurization and low pH). Amai (means sweet in Japanese) collaborates with several leading F&B multinationals. The Amai proteins are produced by food-grade fermentation resulting in a GMO-free sweetener which is the sweetest protein in the world and is significantly cheaper than sugar. The Amai platform is targeting digestible proteins, hypoallergenic proteins, alternative proteins as meat and milk vegan substitutes and other tasty and healthy proteins.


microPow offers a new, additive-free large-scale encapsulation platform for food products. Ingredients such as flavours and colorants, as well as oxidation sensitive, unstable compounds are protected during processing and storage, which leads to improvements in shelf-life and improved product quality. Moreover, thanks to the unique physico-chemical properties, ingredients such as colours and flavours can be released at the right time, which allows us to produce long-lasting chewing gum with a constant flavour being released during the whole chewing time of 15-20 minutes. Or vegetarian burgers that look like real beef burgers, with a juicy, medium grilled core and a crispy, grilled outside.


PANVEGA presents vitamiN’ co: the first vitamin B12 in the world allowed in organic-certified food products. 
Flexitarians represent a growing section of the global population and are driving the rapidly expanding plant-based- and organic-food markets. Plant-based food lacks vitamin B12,so vegans, vegetarians, AND flexitarians are at risk of developing a B12 deficiency. PANVEGA AG – a startup from Zurich, – offers the first B12 in the world to be allowed in organic-certified food. It sells its B12  under the brand vitamiN’ co, and in a stable powder form that can easily be mixed into all kinds of food products. The GMO-free vitamiN’ co is as natural as sauerkraut or wine, and makes it possible for a plant-based diet to be both healthy and complete without a need for supplements.


Epinutra is dedicated to the development of benescoTM, a targeted nutraceutical ingredient designed to support esophagus health by strengthening the esophagus wall. Three in ten of the general population and a staggering 80% of pregnant women can benefit from esophagus health support as they suffer from heartburn, caused by stomach acid rising up and irritating the esophagus. With a defined mechanism of action and solid patient data, benescoTM has aimed to catalyze the shift from synthetic medicine to natural food in this >10B € market.


Our focus is to use the legal Hemp ingredients (THC/CBD-free) to produce mass-market driven products. We work only with the freshest plants, promoting sustainable farming and have developed core know-how on cold-fusion technology, preserving freshness and taste of the plant. Hemp is a trendy ingredient however, we are the only company who succeeded in launching and distributing them across supermarkets in Switzerland, Germany, and other markets, continuously introducing new forms of products based on Legal Hemp.

Category: Most Innovative Plant- or Cereal-based Food or Beverage Ingredient

Better Nature - WINNER

Better Nature is the world’s first food-tech company focused on tempeh fermentation and innovation. By applying a modern scientific lens to the ancient process, they are developing proprietary methods and non-GMO fermentation cultures to enhance the nutritional and sensory qualities of their tempeh to make the most nutritious and delicious tempeh-based meat alternatives such as burgers, bacon, and mince. By using tempeh, they believe they can make wholefood plant-based meat alternatives that are not only high in protein, but also completely free from any artificial or ultra-processed ingredients, all to fulfil their simple mission: to create foods that are better for people, the planet, and animals.


CaffeInk's aim is to offer a sustainable and healthy dark colorant to the food and beverage industry while closing the loop of the coffee value chain. This circular economy start-up works on extracting dark (brown-black) colorants and other valuable compounds, such as oil, from spent coffee grounds and collaborate with the F&B sector to offer plant-based, local ingredients with a circular economy mindset and a low energy and carbon footprint. Let's close the loop of the food value chain to make our daily expresso more sustainable! 


Krusli is on a mission to Rescue Food! Minimal 5000 kg this year, 100.000 kg next year (2020) and 1 million kg in 2025. We do this by creating delicious and healthy breakfast products made from rescued food, like brewers’ grain, wheat bran, broken chips, seeds that are too small, peanut butter that would be wasted otherwise and nuts that are broken, but still perfect for breakfast.
We created four different flavours: Peanut butter & Banana, Apple & Walnut, Beetroot & Ginger and Sweet Potato & Cocos. All of them contain less than 10% of sugar (only a little bit of fruit syrup) and three innovation projects are ongoing to venture out to other categories and rescue more food.


Innovopro is the first company in the world to launch a chickpea protein 70% concentrate (CP Pro 70®), an innovative plant-based protein that adds value to both producers and consumers. It extends customers' choices for a new, clean-label, non-GMO and non-allergenic source of protein and it brings excellent food-technology properties as well as benefits in terms of functionality, health, nutrition, taste and mouthfeel.

Several products based on Innovopro's CP Pro 70® were already launched by our customers, and hundreds of global food manufacturers are already testing CP-Pro 70 in a variety of applications.

Category: Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage Ingredient

FUMI Ingredients - WINNER

FUMI Ingredients develops innovative biorefinery platforms for the production of novel animal-free ingredients from non-GMO micro-organisms. We are implementing scalable and ready to use technology that allows us to produce novel proteins that can be used as egg-white replacers. Furthermore, we are developing other ingredients from naturally occurring microbial strains that can find applications in the food industry. We believe that microorganisms are an untapped source of high-value compounds, which can be used in a broad range of commercial products.

Tamago Food

Tamago Food develops the food products of the future, by proposing plant-based substitutes to eggs.  While there is an increasing demand for plant-based substitutes, we realised that it was not easy for the professionals to find simple plant-based substitutes for pastry. YUMGO, our plant-based egg replacer for food professionals fills a gap for the food professionals. With YUMGO we reinvented the egg. Our unique plant-based substitute allows the professionals to replace the egg they use today with no complex learning or adaptation. Simple to use, in a format suitable for food professionals, delicious, it allows to create plant-based recipes (meringues, mousses, macarons etc.) without any effort.  100% plant-based, 100% delicious.

Higher Steaks

The world's population is exponentially increasing alongside meat consumption, despite growing knowledge of its negative impacts. To ensure worldwide sustainable development and health goals are met by 2050, we must create a more efficient and sustainable food supply. Cultivated meat (meat using cell culture techniques) can have a colossal positive impact, however, key technological challenges must first be overcome to create cost-effective, scalable manufacture of cultivated meat products. Higher Steaks is a pork cultivated meat company focusing on the breakthrough technologies that will bring it to scale. 


Will mushrooms be the next food revolution? Pleurette is an innovative Foodtech startup, based on the National Interest Market of Lille, the second most important in France. We produce fresh and organic mushrooms, we valorize oyster mushroom residues and we develop mushroom-based proteic texturing agent for food industry: an alternative to ultra-processed products with a natural binding effect. It confers to our sauces, mini-meatless balls and burgers good meat-like chewability and taste. Mushroom-based alternatives without soy, without additive, gluten-free, vegan, rich in fibers and organic, giving texture of meat without meat and satiety effect, are unique and match to 4 major trends: organic, flexitarian, local, without allergen. What’s more, we answer the increasing consumer demand for fresh products locally made and processed in an environmentally clean way.

Lab Lab

We develop, prototype and commercialise solutions to ferment seaweed, coffee beans, “medicinal herbs”, hops, and mash from beer breweries, and many berries, fruits and plants resulting in ingredients of new probiotic beverages, food and feed. We develop a proprietary, live, liquid, complex starter culture.

Category: Most Innovative Process, Technology or Service Supporting F&B

Solar Foods

Solar Foods is a visionary food-tech company that develops revolutionary fermentation-based innovations for food production at a global level. As an active player in solving the global food and nutrition crisis, Solar Foods provides new solutions that secure the sustainable use of natural resources by disconnecting food production from agriculture.  We produce the world’s most sustainable protein: Solein®. We are on our way to make Solein® the magic ingredient for future food.

Rival Foods

At Rival Foods we provide a disruptive solution for small- to intermediate-scale production of the next generation plant-based protein products. This is made possible by a completely new process developed by Rival Foods. This process allows for transformation of plant-based ingredients into truly innovative and culinary plant-based whole-cuts. These products are similar to animal protein products in size (0,5+ square meter) and thickness (2-3 cm thick), have a remarkable meat-like or fish-like structure with fibers and/or layers oriented along the length of the product, have a high moisture content and liquid release upon compression.

Cellular Agriculture Ltd

Cellular Agriculture Ltd is addressing the technological bottlenecks of the cultured meat industry by establishing the most efficient industrial bioprocess. Scale, and more importantly peak efficiency will allow cells to be produced at price parity to traditional meat. With over 40 companies in the cultured meat landscape. Cellular Agriculture is already a second-generation business, they are not concentrated on food products but the first to solely focus on enabling technology to scale and to expedite the growth of an industry. They have already delivered a proof of concept bioreactor system which has been publicly displayed at Nemo Science Museum, Amsterdam and are building partnerships across the value chain to bring this technology to market.

Connecting Food

Connecting Food helps food industrials rebuild consumer trust.
Today, shoppers want to know everything about the food they buy: where was it produced? by whom? how? We leverage blockchain technology to track in real time all food production from the farm to the consumer. What makes us unique is our LiveAudit® module: we are able to digitally audit 100% of the production, batch to batch, to ensure the product’s requirements are respected, at all times.
We improve customer experience by connecting shoppers with the brands, through a simple scan of QR code, providing chosen traceability information and audit results.
Connecting Food is the first food transparency blockchain platform in Europe, operational in more than 5 countries.

Qwarzo - WINNER

Qwarzo develops two unprecedented paper technologies providing a 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable solution to replace fully and cost effectively single-use plastic in numerous applications, like coffee stirrers, cutlery, straws and other packaging.
Qwarzo.solid is the technology allowing injection moulding of 100% paper recyclable, biodegradable and compostable replacing solid plastic packaging.
Qwarzo.stratum is a surface treatment of paper adding it unbelievable barrier properties, keeping the paper 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable to replace fully and cost-effectively flexible plastic packaging. Both are fluoride free, polymer free, plastic free.

Sphera Encapsulation

SpherAQ are high-quality encapsulates, totally soluble in water, that can be consumed without the addition of any flavors or aromas - a cutting-edge technology developed by Sphera Encapsulation in order to overcome the major challenges related to the intake of bio-active lipophilic ingredients, such as oils.  The main points that has been addressed when it comes to this type of molecules are their scarce bioavailability, the insolubility in water and the low stability. Our technology enables us to create real barriers between the active ingredient and the external environment, protecting it from the harsh condition of the gastric media, from the action of metabolic enzymes, making the molecules easy to handle and very stable to temperature and oxidation. Totally tasteless and odorless, 100% natural and water-soluble, our encapsulates can hold any lipophilic ingredient, making it easy to incorporate in any product- from food to beverages, they can be even taken directly as a supplement.  In vivo studies on different ingredients encapsulated with this system have confirmed an increased bioavailability and a supreme protection of the active ingredients inside SpherAQ.