Cover photo: Stratup team representatives, and key people from VTT and University of Helsinki organizing this programme.
EIT Food Acceleration Network (FAN) Helsinki Hub 2021 programme culminated on Demo Day 7.10.2021 and ended four months journey with our ten startup teams. Our Demo Day was a success with over 100 live participants onsite and online. Online participants were following the event all around the world from USA to Thailand. Conversation was lively as every teams’ pitches raised many questions from the audience. Demo Day was the first face to face event with our startups in the programme and therefore also important for all of us.
This year the startups participating our programme were Grönovation, Hooked Foods, Kamupak, NORBITE, Planticus, Revo Foods, Tracegrow, Volare, Whywaste, and Yield Systems. They all have their own solution for making food systems more sustainable. During Demo Day they all pitched their businesses to investors, partners and media. It has been interesting to see just how far they have come from where they were at the beginning of this programme. Several teams have raised great amount of funding during the programme (altogether 2,3M€), which shows that these startups are raising wide interest within investors as well.
Demo Day started with our Helsinki Hub leader Mirva Lampinen’s (Co-Creation Manager at VTT) thoughts from this year’s programme and she thanked all our partners for their important support in this year’s programme. After that we had keynote speaker Shilei Zhang, CCO of Solar Foods. He gave a speech about their company’s success story and what impact to more sustainable world they can make by producing protein from thin air. Solar Foods is one of the most successfull alumni startup companies from last year’s programme. Demo Day ended with Paolo Borella from VTT giving his thought about this year’s programme and what is expected next year. The event was hosted by Business Tampere at Platform6, which is the epicenter of the Tampere startup ecosystem.
How was the programme in 2021?
The programme was kicked-off on 9.6.2021. During this four-month period our startups went through four sprints filled with different expert lectures and workshops. Experts were collected from big pool of leading experts all around the world. Many different topics were covered during these sessions, like food legislation and topics about business development and funding, just to name a few. As the startups had different needs, they got chance to have one on one expert sessions and other support and connections when needed. They all got their own dedicated mentor who was chosen based on startup’s needs.
EIT FAN central team provided connections to international corporate partners such as Pepsico, John Deere and Dupont. They also provided two side-tracks that our startup teams could apply to: Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Nutrition
VTT was leading the programme for the second time with University of Helsinki as the main partner. This year our programme had HKScan, Paulig-PINC, Valio, Tetra Pak, Nordic FoodTech VC, Nordea and Business Tampere as local partners. They gave their expertise and help to our startups, and some of our startups even started doing pilots with them. One of the most interesting workshops in our programme was actually corporate – startup pilot facilitation where three of our startup teams got to build pilots with the help of several facilitated workshops. All of the pilots are still continuing and we are eagerly waiting to hear the results from them in the near future.
I started working as a trainee at VTT and this programme in the start of June and the programme was kicked-off the following week. For me this has been a growing journey with our startups as I didn’t know much for example about funding and other business-related topics around starups. Coming from food science field, I got more insight in business part of companies and got a lot of experience in managing these kind of projects.
Even though the programme itself has ended we are not ending our journey with these startups. We will now start managing alumni activities with our teams from this year’s and last year’s programmes. It will be interesting to continue following how their startups will mature and grow from here. EIT Food will also provide various events and opportunities for startups to pitch and connect to industry and investors.
This year we had ten interesting startups chosen to participate our programme with varying solutions to solve food system challenges. Next year we are expecting to have more agrifood startups with great new business ideas applying to our programme. The application period will be from January to February 2022. More information bout the programme and application process can be found from EIT FAN Helsinki Hub website. Startups can already fill in their expression of interest in the website to get more information later this year.
We are hoping to welcome also new local partners from Nordics to our programme and grow our network wider next year. We want to make this programme a meeting point for startups and industry in agrifood field and develop local ecosystem in the Nordics.
To learn more about the EIT FAN Helsinki program, visit https://www.eitfan.eu/helsinki.
Written by Noora Rinkinen, Trainee at VTT.