What was your motivation for supporting and promoting the FoodSeed program? How do you believe this initiative can contribute to innovation and the growth and development of the food industry?
Eatable Adventures is one of the leading global food-tech accelerators. Our mission is to promote the application of new technologies in the agri-food sector to make the entire agri-food value chain more efficient and sustainable. As an accelerator, we have successfully developed over ten incubation and acceleration programs worldwide to stimulate innovation and foster the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the industry. It has been an honour to be chosen by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Fondazione Cariverona to create and manage the Foodseed acceleration program of the National Accelerators Network of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.
This partnership fosters our commitment to promoting innovation in the agri-food sector and strengthens our leadership in the food-tech field.
The FoodSeed program will be the engine of a new generation of Food Tech startups in Italy that will help drive the transition of the global food system. It’s a significant opportunity for both startups and Italian agri-food companies that are facing a lot of challenges, not only economic but also environmental. FoodSeed provides startups with the necessary financial resources to develop these innovative projects but also: technical expertise, a worldwide network of experts and mentors, national and international visibility, and other crucial resources for their scalability.
Innovation is the primary response to key challenges and can make a breakthrough for our country.
What challenges do you think emerging startups in the Italian agri-food industry need to face now?
Italy has always been a gastronomic powerhouse known for its excellence worldwide. The Italian agri-food industry, in 2022, accounted for 25% of the national GDP, with a total economic value of around 538 billion euros. However, despite the significance of its food and wine culture and the leading position in quality and image, the Italian agri-food system falls short in technological research and innovative production processes compared to other more developed European markets. That is particularly evident in light of the current challenges posed by climate change, energy issues, and all the other parameters outlined in the European “from Farm to Fork” strategy.
The sustainability challenges are related to matters of corporate efficiency, and, in this context, startups must demonstrate their ability to intelligently leverage technologies to provide innovative solutions that reduce the environmental impact of the entire agri-food supply chain, balancing productivity with the quality and safety of food products.
The synergy between corporate efficiency and sustainability is crucial for successfully addressing the current challenges in the agri-food sector.
What are the main opportunities you identify for startups in the food innovation field?
Italy has always been a strategic market on the global scene. The turnover of the Italian industry grew by +14.7% in 2022 alone, driven primarily by export growth, which achieved a record figure of 60 billion euros.
However, the industrial excellence of Made In Italy needs to adapt to the current challenges we have discussed, mainly focused on issues related to environmental and social sustainability, as well as efficiency. Reducing food waste throughout the agri-food supply chain, seeking renewable and biodegradable raw materials to improve product shelf life, more efficient use of water resources, and digitalization of the field to optimise and streamline cultivation management are just a few examples of the areas where innovation and research need to be encouraged.
We cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity to position ourselves as a powerhouse in innovation within the agri-food sector and fall behind other markets that have always made technology and innovation their flag-bearers. The opportunity for this emerging ecosystem is within sight, as demonstrated by the immense interest that an initiative like FoodSeed has garnered. Thanks to initiatives like this, startups could have the chance to develop innovative projects and scale them in the market.
FoodSeed connects startups with key players in the industry, including companies, research centres, universities, etc. Why is collaboration with startups crucial for developing agri-food entrepreneurship?
The constant search for innovative solutions to address the most critical challenges in the agri-food sector has triggered a veritable acceleration in collaboration between major food companies and external agents contributing to the development of new technical solutions, such as startups, universities, and research centres.
The startups, with their boundless creativity and flexible approach, can identify new market opportunities, giving rise to innovative technological solutions aimed at improving the processes of production, transformation, and distribution of food products. Typically, the implementation of innovations and new processes within companies can be complex and time-consuming to test their applicability to the corporate reality. Thanks to collaboration with startups, companies in the agri-food sector can rapidly and effectively implement new ideas, significantly reducing risks and adeptly adapting to new market trends.
Flexibility, in an ever-evolving sector where consumer tastes, consumption trends, and regulations can change rapidly, thus plays a crucial role.
Collaboration with startups not only enables the attainment of almost immediate benefits, but also fosters the development of networks, partnerships and synergies that allow for the exchange of knowledge and skills, sharing of resources, and access to new markets. The result is the creation of a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that stimulates innovation and sectoral competitiveness.
How can your experience and expertise in the food innovation sector contribute to the creation of a sustainable ecosystem for startups and companies in the agri-food industry in Italy?
Eatable Adventures is among the leading global accelerators in the food tech field. Since 2015, we have been dedicated to identifying and supporting the most innovative and disruptive food startups worldwide, helping them grow in the global market through collaborations with companies, governments, and investors. This effort has led to the development of a global community comprising over 25,000 founders and the analysis of more than 3,000 projects in 2022.
Our activity serves as a bridge between startups and major industry players, fostering mutual synergies. We have developed over 40 annual programs on behalf of companies and governments, along with ten incubation and acceleration programs, including Spain Foodtech, Mylkcubator, Baking the Future, and FoodSeed. Additionally, Eatable Adventures also operates as an investor through the establishment of an investment vehicle for seed and Series A stage startup projects.
As a result, we can confidently assert that our perspective on the food tech market is comprehensive, enabling us to identify both the most promising and scalable technologies in the sector to address sustainability and efficiency challenges, as well as the market and industry needs and concerns. This approach, combined with the expertise and experience of our internationally specialised senior team in this vertical for years, has allowed us to expand our operations beyond the borders of Spain. We have successfully executed initiatives that have positioned the entrepreneurial Foodtech ecosystem on the international stage.
We are immensely proud to have been chosen by CDP Venture Capital SGR to establish the Foodtech acceleration program for the National Network of Accelerators. We are confident that our accumulated experience over these years will significantly boost the creation and development of the Italian Food Tech ecosystem.