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40 sought-after solutions according to these 14 FoodTech investors attending the HackSummit

Europe’s leading gathering of Climate Tech Builders, Investors, Corporates and Limited Partners is happening in Lausanne this June 13-14th. AKA the HackSummit.

And as momentum builds and the urgency to solve the climate crisis picks up pace we spoke to 14 impact investors who will be joining us in Lausanne to hear which technologies they’re looking to invest in next. 

If you’ve got the solution they’re looking for, get your ticket today and head on over to Lausanne to meet them IRL for what could easily be your most productive week of 2024 - while having plenty of fun along the way.

Tip: Use code MEETINVESTORS for 20% off your startup pass. Less than 150 tickets remaining.

A snapshot of what they’re looking for:

💊 GLP-1 Tech
🌾 Crop Protection
📦 New Food Packaging
🧫 Cell-Free Manufacturing
💦 Advanced Water Irrigation
☕️ Coffee and Cocoa Alternatives
🌱 Plant Cell Culture Technologies
🌴 Deforestation-Free Technologies
🍗 Clean Label Functional Food Ingredients

Mélody Violton at CPT Capital

  • High-Value Proteins/Ingredients: There is a strong demand for multifunctional and bioactive proteins. These are highly appealing from a unit economics standpoint as they will represent high price and high margin products with low inclusion rates, enabling to significantly reduce the barriers to scaling up production

  • Enabling Technologies: Innovative technologies that will contribute to reduce costs of production (upstream and downstream) to achieve quicker price parity are of interest, however these enablers will need to show that their business model can be versatile and applicable to other industries in order to de-risk the path to commercialisation.

  • Molecular Farming / Plant Cell Culture: These two sub-tech in recombinant proteins technology warrant attention as they might challenge conventional precision fermentation for the production of bioactive proteins with viable unit economics.

Nadim El Khazen at PeakBridge VC

  • WaterTech: Decarbonizing mineral water by cutting single use packaging and transportation through the micro filtration of local tap water. The bottled water industry is a double threat to both biodiversity and public health. Recent scandals around contaminated mineral water and the high presence of micro plastics is pushing the water industry to rethink its outdated supply chain.

  • GLP-1 Tech: GLP-1 Drugs are having a rippling effect across packaged food, food retail, food service and fitness. They present an incremental headwind to a low-growth industry, heightening the need to continue reshaping portfolios toward better-for-you categories, less UPFs and more natural ingredients.

  • Cocoa Alternatives: with cocoa prices reaching record highs in 2024 on the back of shortages in supply, cocoa alternatives through biomass fermentation or cell culture are gaining in relevance. Their inclusion in incumbent products will be progressive. We believe in a first generation of hybrid products where cocoa alternatives will be used as an ingredient replacing part of the traditional cocoa.

Sonalie Figueiras at Green Queen Media and Investor

  • Deforestation-Free Tech- Startups working on growing and producing foods/ingredients/agricultural commodities based on land-light innovation without the deforestation toll. Not only is this important to make supply chains more resilient, more ethical and more climate-friendly, it's important for meeting regulations like the EU's new deforestation regulation.

  • GLP-1 Tech: Startups/companies innovating in the GLP-1 space- whether that's reformulating CPG foods to be more suited to those on agonist drugs or finding drug-free ways to help patients improve their insulin sensitivity. With the Ozempic era upon us and more people with diabetes than ever. What many people don't realize is the emissions cost of diabetes. The more we can help folks get healthier and less diabetic, the better for the planet. 

  • Food Waste Tech: Anything that helps make a dent in the colossal food waste problem that we are facing, from valorizing side streams into new CPG products to helping stem the waste earlier in the supply chain. 

Abel Rossignol at Thia Ventures

  • Microbiome Modulation: We can’t stress enough how important microbiome is for our overall health. Recent research has shed some light on what remains a black box. It is now clear that modulating the microbiome through diet, pro/pre/syn-biotics, and other interventions can have a profound impact on several prevalent health conditions. As science advances, we anticipate a growing stream of investable startups in microbiome-based therapies, diagnostic tools, personalized interventions, etc... This is not limited to human health; it extends to plants & soil, where microbiome modulation can enhance crop yields & soil quality. 

  • Cell-Free Manufacturing: Organism-based production technologies (e.g., precision fermentation) are already disrupting food & pharma. Maintaining those living organisms happy is, however, quite a challenge. Introducing synthetic pathways only adds to this challenge due to additional metabolic burden. Cell-free manufacturing allows to directly harness those reactions, without the need for the organism. This could allow orders-of-magnitude improvements in production costs & efficiency. The main challenges for cell-free manufacturing are about improving & immobilising enzymes. Luckily, advances in AI-powered protein design like AlphaFold3 and foundational models like Evo are accelerating it.

  • Unlocking Precision Fermentation Unit Economics: Precision fermentation is progressing fast and holds a lot of promise. However, we are still far from being able to produce (semi)commoditized products like casein or whey at price and functionality parity. To bridge that gap, we need enabling technologies that continue to boost efficiency: better strains, novel DSP tools, continuous fermentation, alternative carbon sources, new bioreactor design...Maybe one of the spaces where A.I. can bring breakthroughs that we don’t see yet.

  • Food Packaging: Innovations that enhance the recyclability of food packaging in line with EU regulations. This aligns with Paulig's 2030 goal of using only recycled or renewable packaging materials that are fully recyclable.

  • Food Security Solutions: Cutting-edge technologies addressing food security challenges in essential crops such as wheat, corn, spices, and coffee.

  • Sustainable Agriculture: Technologies promoting sustainable and regenerative farming practices, with a particular emphasis on improving soil health.

  • Circularity: Innovations that enhance circularity and facilitate the upcycling of waste streams, supporting a more sustainable and efficient use of resources.

Gil Horsky at FLORA Ventures

  • Longevity: Longevity and nutrition are deeply intertwined. What you eat can significantly impact your overall lifespan. Will see new food & supplement products tailored to promote longevity

  • FinTech: Will finally see the fintech revolution reach the AgriTech industry with new business models to finance famers to transition to the next generation of tech enabled agriculture 

  •  GLP-1: The Food category is the one that must adjust most due to boom of GLP-1 drugs, hence we will see next-generation products and brands to accompany consumers taking or going off GLP1-1 treatments. Will also see the launch of new cheaper oral products & ingredients  (vs. injections) that promote effectively satiety within food, beverages and supplements.

Hadar Sutovsky at ICL Planet Startup Hub

  • Regenerative Agriculture Innovation: Technologies which promote soil health, biodiversity, and sustainable farming practices. This area is attractive due to its potential to enhance ecosystem resilience and increase agricultural productivity. For example, cover cropping and no-till farming can significantly improve soil fertility and water retention. 

  • Crop Nutrition Inputs: Such as biologicals and their metabolites, which offer eco-friendly alternatives to synthetic fertilizers, reducing environmental impact while enhancing plant health. Companies developing microbial inoculants that boost nutrient uptake in crops illustrate this potential. Furthermore, innovative regenerative agriculture technologies, such as precision farming tools and AI-driven soil monitoring systems, provide scalable solutions for sustainable farming practices, ensuring higher efficiency and lower carbon footprints. 

  • Clean Label Functional Food Ingredients, which meet growing consumer demand for transparency and health benefits. Ingredients like functional plant protein, plant based dairy proteins and natural preservatives not only support clean eating trends but also align with sustainable sourcing practices. Together, these areas present significant opportunities for impactful investments that drive agricultural sustainability and innovation.

Daniel Skavén Ruben at Solvable Syndicate

  • Food Waste: We need to drastically cut food waste globally, as 1/3 food produced is never consumed. And there's many technologies to be excited about that can help achieve this goal -- from cold chain innovations, smart packaging, sensors and upcycling of nutrients through sidestream valorization, to SaaS solutions, marketplaces, AI-driven predictions and inventory management, and fruit & vegetable coatings -- and so much more!

  • Decarbonising the Food System: This is a big but crucial bucket. In it you'll find everything from alternative proteins, to technologies such as feed additives that reduce GHG emissions from livestock production, to food waste technologies, to nitrogen fixing crops, to fossil free fertilizer, to novel alternatives to high-emitting foods like coffee and cocoa, to tech that drive the shift to regenerative agriculture, and more.

  • Tech that Drives Behaviour Change: People (whether in their professional capacities or as consumers) often know what they should do, but they don't do it because maintaining the status quo is cheaper and/or more convenient. I find it exciting with tech and innovations that make it easy for people to make the right choices as it comes to food, whether in their professional or personal lives. 

Bodil Siden at Kost Capital

  • Climate Adaptation: The surge in coffee and cacao prices are only two examples of how the climate change is affecting how we can eat in the future. There's an urgent need for resilient supply chains and more sustainable ingredients, on the flip side this is also an opportunity to develop even tastier and more nutritional ingredients.  

  • Enabling Technologies: To reach scalability and ensure that all groundbreaking innovation we're seeing in the food space are reaching the end-consumer's plate, enabling technologies are needed to accelerate innovation. 

  • Better Ingredients: We see a big opportunity within new high-margin ingredients with clean label, better taste and improved functionality. This goes on the spectrum from colorants to texturizers.

Erik Byrenius at Mudcake

  • Climate Adaptation for Extreme Weather: We’re interested in technologies that help agriculture adapt to extreme weather, such as precision agriculture tools, advanced irrigation technologies, more resilient crops, and wastewater treatment innovations that also produce new food products from circular waste streams.

  • Methane Emission Reduction in Rice Cultivation: We’re looking for innovations aimed at reducing methane emissions in rice farming, including sustainable farming practices, novel agricultural inputs that prevent methanogenesis, and the development of resilient crop varieties.

  • Food as Medicine: We’re excited about startups focusing on precision and targeted nutrition to prevent diseases, enhance life quality, and ensure healthy aging and child growth through personalised dietary solutions and advanced biomedical insights.

Louise Rørbæk Heiberg at Nordic Foodtech VC

  • We love high-impact per kg ingredients. Aroma, flavours, and specialty fats. Managing the aroma and flavour input for food and beverage in the face of climate change while securing biodiversity is a problem with very few good solutions available. Biological solutions hold the key here, but more straightforward alternative ingredients that secure sustainable and fair supply chains also excite us.

  • Input, Tools, and Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture and Farming: We are looking for ways to manage weed without herbicides, create circular fertilizers and healthy soil, and grow heat—or salt-stress-tolerant crops while also securing biodiversity on land. A lot going on at the moment. 

  • The Thrill of the Unknown. The stuff and technologies that we haven’t seen yet transforming our food system. In addition to making incremental changes like eating more plants and less meat, we need radical new technologies. Scientific discovery, which happens in universities and research institutions, is the only place for those to come from. That is why we take immense joy in supporting researchers early in developing innovation based on their expertise in and around food, bio solutions and agriculture. This is not just a financial opportunity for an investor but a chance to be part of something truly transformative and impactful.

Nicolaus Norden @ FoodLabs

  • Advanced Water Irrigation: Our food system accounts for about 70 percent of the world's annual freshwater use, with about 85 percent of fields using flood irrigation systems, which means fields are constantly under water, resulting in an extraordinary amount of water being wasted through evaporation. We are looking for innovative ways to improve irrigation around the world, for example through advanced irrigation technologies such as variable rate irrigation (VRI) - which not only has a positive impact on water use, but can potentially increase yields over time - or data-driven irrigation management through machine learning and AI.

  • Food Waste Reduction: Food waste remains one of the most pressing issues in our industry, with around a third of all food thrown away. While we are already seeing some innovation, we expect to see more start-ups working on either technical solutions to prevent food waste (such as using enzymes with antimicrobial properties that can help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, molds and yeasts on food) or improvements in the supply chain (such as improving the transfer of food to food banks to prevent usable food from ending up in landfill).

  • Regenerative Agriculture for Specific Crop Types and Regions: Each crop has different requirements and farming practices, so the transition to regenerative agriculture will also depend on the type of crop and the region in which it is grown. We are seeing interesting approaches in the rice sector in Southeast Asia or in cocoa farming in West Africa, and expect more players to emerge in the coming months and launch technical solutions to make regenerative practices more efficient in different regions globally.

Luigi Quinto at Mandi Ventures

  • Supply Chain Optimisation: As the global food and agriculture supply chain becoming more complex, there is an urgent need for creative solutions to enhance processes, increase traceability, and optimize logistics. Leveraging technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, Data Analytics, Supply Chain Management Platforms, and Traceability Solutions enable better inventory management, transportation efficiency, storage optimization, and idle capacity utilization, resulting in reduced losses and heightened responsiveness to market demands.

  • Food Security/Food Waste: The food security and food waste subsector present compelling investment opportunities, driven by the dual necessity of feeding a growing global population while mitigating food waste. Investments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, IoT, and Software Solutions, alongside initiatives aimed at reducing food waste through improved storage, distribution, and consumption practices, not only align with environmental objectives but also yield economic benefits by recapturing lost value in the food supply chain.

  • Crop Protection: Investing in Bioinputs, Genetic Modification and Engineering, New Traits Developments, Precision Agriculture alongside IoT and Software Solutions, offers avenues to bolster crop protection. These investments empower farmers to mitigate risks and enhance crop resilience against evolving environmental challenges and pest pressures. Moreover, advancements in crop protection technologies facilitate sustainable agricultural practices, reducing reliance on conventional pesticides and minimizing environmental impact while safeguarding agricultural productivity.

Noga Sela Shalev at Fresh Start

  • Sustainable Proteins: Molecular farming is yielding an increasing number of promising and scalable solutions. Enhanced plant sourcing, including seed genetics for sustainable crops, and a deeper understanding of plant protein functionality are leading to more holistic agrifood solutions.

  • NutritionTech: Personalised longevity foods, metabolic health foods, zero-sugar foods and beverages, and functional ingredients, powered by data utilization and automation, represent the future of health and wellness. This sector is attracting interest from data industry giants and new potential investors, offering higher-value solutions, better margins, and new funding sources.

  • Automation in Food Delivery and Logistics: Cracking the code of logistics optimisation  considering realtime shelf life monitoring and online data management are key in waste reduction along the value chain, strongly driven by improved systems’ operation accessibility and sustainability targets.