Wrapping up the third EIT FAN Helsinki acceleration programme

For the third time in a row, EIT Food Accelerator Network Helsinki Hub, led by VTT and the University of Helsinki, has successfully guided ten agri-foodtech startups through a four-month EIT FAN acceleration programme. The traditional programme-ending Demo Day was held on the 6th of October.

The event gathered a full house of agri-food professionals and investors from all over Europe to Maria01. In this article, we share with you the fruits of this year’s programme and take a peak at what’s to come next year.

The journey of the EIT FAN Helsinki programme in 2022

In the Demo Day’s welcome speech, Aline de Santa Izabel Alves, Project Manager at EIT FAN Helsinki Hub from VTT, and Osmo Mattila, Research Coordinator from the University of Helsinki, shared the best bits of the past programme.

It all started when the EIT Food Accelerator Network Helsinki hub began to look for pre-seed stage startups for the third EIT FAN Helsinki acceleration programme on January 2022. The impact areas this year were:

  • Alternative proteins
  • Targeted nutrition
  • Sustainable aquaculture
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Digital traceability
  • Circularity

Over the numerous applications received, we were happy to qualify ten startups for the programme, representing each of the six impact areas above. In June, the 2022 programme was kickstarted with on-site work in Helsinki, with the cohort startups: Biocode, Biovaaka, Fauna Smart Technologies, Fermentful, EcoBean, EOD Europe, Improvin, MonitorFish, Montinutra, and Sibö.

In addition to having a quality set of startups also for the third acceleration programme, the teams’ diversity was higher than ever before. The geographical coverage of the startups grew wider, with the recent cohort covering 7 different European countries: Sweden, Latvia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Poland. Moreover, we are thrilled that of the selected startups, 50 % are founded or led by females.


Osmo Mattila chatting with Aline de Santa Isabel

Osmo Mattila (right) and Aline de Santa Izabel (left).


Within the four intensive months, the startups participated in 34 skill sessions covering over 46 hours of training and learning, including three cross-hub activities between the EIT FAN Paris and Münich hubs. The programme’s ten industry leader mentors and the hub experts also provided over 300 hours of coaching for the startups. In addition, three EIT FAN Helsinki alumni startups, Volare, Tebrito and Probitat, participated in the programme to share their hands-on tips for the cohort.

One of the main takeaways the EIT FAN Helsinki hub offers to its startups is matchmaking them with relevant parties to enhance innovation and collaboration. So, more good news: this year, we facilitated more pilots and innovation projects than before – 20 in total:

  • 6 pilots with corporate partners
  • 3 startup-to-startup projects
  • 10 projects with external partners
  • 1 R&D project with a research institution.

All the networking and hard work started to pay off already during the programme, as the total amount of raised investments was 3,9M€ by Demo Day.

With a high satisfaction rate from the 2022 cohort combined with the numbers above, it is safe to say that the EIT FAN Helsinki 2022 programme was successful – and the fantastic pitches heard at the event support the claim.


EIT FAN Helsinki demo day audience 2022


The EIT Food Acceleration Network programmes are changing

EIT Food Accelerator Network is part of Europe’s leading innovation food initiative, EIT Food. EIT Food’s role in food system transformation is to bring all the players together to guide and accelerate the innovation processes. In 2021 alone, EIT Food supported over 150 startups that attracted over 400 M€ investments.

In addition to the Food Accelerator Network, EIT Food hosts Seedbed programmes to lower maturity startups and entrepreneurs and RisingFoodStars programmes for early and ambitious scale-ups with paying customers looking for significant growth and global scale. A startup’s journey could include all these programmes, from Seedbed to FAN and from FAN to RisingFoodStars.


Pawel Ciach

Pawel Ciach, Startup Manager at EIT Food CLC North-East


The EIT FAN programme is now changing towards thematic hubs. Until now, the EIT FAN hubs all over Europe have covered their own market areas with universal programme themes. However, the local hubs will focus on the whole European market with a hub-specific theme starting next year. In practice, this means that different hubs specialise in serving a similar group of startups; say, one hub focuses on alternative protein and the other on digital traceability.

Otherwise, the basic idea of EIT FAN remains the same. It will still be a free-of-charge accelerator to pre-seed stage startups, the startups will still have access to the EIT FAN programme grant, and local partners are still needed in addition to the global partner network. VTT remains the hub leader together with the University of Helsinki.


Mirva Lampinen on stage

Mirva Lampinen, Co-creation Manager at VTT and the EIT FAN Helsinki Hub Leader

Closing notes

As the Demo Day’s surprise speaker who gave the final speech of the event, Johan Jörgensen from Sweden FoodTech puts it: thinking outside of the box that contains the box is where the change lies. Startups excelling in that kind of innovativeness are precisely what the EIT FAN programmes aim to reach and guide forward.

We want to thank the EIT FAN Helsinki acceleration programme organisers from VTT and the University of Helsinki, numerous mentors, hub experts and content collaborators, and the EIT FAN Helsinki 2022 local corporate partners Nordic Foodtech VC, PINC, Paulig, Valio and Lantmännen for enabling a high-quality experience for the cohort startups. Regarding the 2022 cohort, we have strong faith in them to bring hope for the future of food. Following Food & Beyond’s and the companies’ respective social media accounts, you can get the latest news from the EIT FAN Helsinki alumni.

In addition to witnessing the rapid growth path of the startups, gathering food professionals and investors around Europe at the annual Demo Day is ever so wonderful. Showcasing innovations, creating new connections, and having great conversations with new faces and old friends is the best way to end the programme. The impact of the EIT FAN accelerators is way beyond the startups’ business support – the programmes create domino effects that write the story of tomorrow’s food system.


The EIT FAN Helsinki 2022 acceleration programme team

The EIT FAN Helsinki 2022 programme team


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