Startup Innovation Challenge

The most exciting innovations come from small start-ups who are largely unknown to the wider industry. Since 2016, Food Ingredients Global is pleased to present some of the most ground-breaking Food and Beverage solutions currently being developed. 2019 edition made no exception with 20 exciting innovations that aimed to answer the challenges of tomorrow’s customers.

Special Prize – EIT Food Prize

In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup was selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.*

EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted. It is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

*Startups needed to be a resident, citizen or legal entity (i.e. registered business) based in an EU member state or an associate country. They also needed to meet the criteria of EIT Food whose decision is final.

EIT Food Prize WINNER: FUMI Ingredients

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.

2019 Prizes

Startups could select multiple categories but competed only in one category, which was selected by the shortlisting jury.
In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup was selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.

All winners received one-to-one mentoring from one of the Advisory Board members of the Startup Innovation Challenge. The winners could select which Advisory Board member was most relevant to them.

In addition, each winner could select one of the following prizes:

A fully equipped exhibition booth (9 or 12m2) at Fi Europe 2020
Have a dedicated space to promote your product and connect with key players in the industry at one of Europe’s biggest trade shows for the global F&B industry.

A digital marketing package in conjunction with ingredients Network
This includes a profile on the ingredients Network directory, the leading product and supplier search engine in the food ingredients industry, plus unique articles and interviews on your company to be shared via the ingredients Network Newsletter. Reach over 150,000 people and generate quality leads for your business.

Access to ‘Conciergerie’ by Presans
Conciergerie by Presans enables you to engage on-demand with top level experts for industrial innovation. Our Fellows (ex-R&D Directors/CTOs of large-size companies) identify worldwide experts related to your innovation, science and technology questions. Within a couple of days Presans organizes phone call discussions between selected experts and you. The winner of this prize will get the opportunity to raise a question on the Conciergerie platform and to get in contact with worldwide experts.

Coaching and R&D consultation from General Mills
A 6 month-session of mentoring/coaching from General Mills and 2 days of free R&D consultation supported by General Mills R&D resources globally.

Deep-dive session with Wageningen University & Research
Receive a tailored session with relevant researchers from Wageningen University & Research, the No.1 food & agri university worldwide. Get advice on your technology/product from a leading industry expert in the relevant field. Receive feedback on your proposition in order to make it ready for the market.

Networking opportunity during Proteines 3D.
Proteines France will offer selected startups the opportunity to join Proteines 3D, a unique opportunity to meet with more than 15 French innovative proteins industry leaders.

One-day coaching and advisory session from FOODINNOV GROUP

FOODINNOV GROUP will offer selected startups a one-day coaching and advisory session in development strategy, product R&D, process and packaging, industrial product transfers, product exportability, registration with the US FDA and all other nutritional aspects (product conception, regulatory advice DADFMS, Novel Food for Europe and GRAS for the USA)

Pilot opportunities for startups

Givaudan will offer strategic partnerships including access to knowledge, personnel, equipment and advice on access to market. Details to be discussed with the selected startups.

Safety, health and regulatory consultancy

lsbi offers an eight-hour-long free safety, health and regulatory consultancy. This 'quick scan and reality check' will result in a 2-3 pages letter report.

2019 Categories

Startups could select multiple categories but competed only in one category, which was selected by the shortlisting jury.

In addition to the category winners, one shortlisted startup was selected by EIT for a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize.

Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient


This category covers ingredients or additives that improve taste, texture, appearance and/or nutritional value. E.g. flavours, flavour enhancers, colours, sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilisers, (thickeners, binders texturisers), acidulants, firming agents, anti-caking agents, leavening agents, humectants, dough strengtheners, fat substitutions, yeast nutrients, PH control agents, enzyme preparations, functional lipids, dietary fibre, probiotics etc.

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

This category specifically covers ingredients or additives from plant or cereal sources.

Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage Ingredient

This category specifically covers ingredients or additives from a novel non-animal/plant/cereal source. E.g. fungi, algae, insects, micro-organisms, lab grown/cell-cultured or another non-animal/plant/cereal food source.

Most Innovative Process, Technology or Service Supporting F&B

This category covers innovations that improve food safety, efficacy, quality, traceability, transparency, ingredient sourcing or upcycling.

The Startup Innovation Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for any startup to leverage their networking and fund-raising efforts. We benefitted significantly from our participation in the entire process. Due to the exposure during and after the challenge, we have been approached by many stakeholders in the industry who are willing to work with us.

Nine out of ten startups fail. At Fi Europe we support entrepreneurship and are committed to support innovators by offering them a platform to exchange. You can listen to our webinar “Spotting traps on the road to success, tips to F&B startups” and learn from our panel of experts how to best develop your startup project!”

Startup Innovation Challenge Partners