EIT launches search for agrifood entrepreneurs to help transform the world food system

EIT Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), has launched a search to find the next 100 agrifood entrepreneurs who can help transform the world food system to be healthier, innovative, and more sustainable.

EIT Food works with a range of entrepreneurs, supporting initiatives from food waste reduction solutions, to cultured meats and animal feed alternatives. Since 2018, EIT Food’s Business Creation programmes have supported over 350 companies.

In 2019, its startup network attracted €100 million of investment and EIT Food has provided more than €10 million in direct financial support across its Business Creation programmes in 2020, supporting entrepreneurs in a range of ways, from help with market testing news ideas to enabling connections with corporate partners across the food industry.

Its search for the agrifood entrepreneurs of 2021 comes as the food system faces a number of challenges which must be tackled in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adhere to the Paris Agreement climate targets.

Food insecurity and hunger remains an issue, with 820 million people going hungry in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to food supply chains. On top of this, the world is facing the crisis of climate change, and with food production accounting for around 26% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% global freshwater withdrawals, investments and initiatives are needed to make the food system more sustainable.

It is estimated that meeting the SDGs could create innovation opportunities worth US$200 billion for the European business sector in agrifood by 2030 Despite this, less than 4% of startups in Europe are in the agrifood space, which opens up a huge market opportunity for innovators, investors and entrepreneurs.

Andy Zynga, CEO of EIT Food, said: “Our purpose at EIT Food is to create a culture across Europe for entrepreneurship to thrive. Only a spirit of entrepreneurship will help Europe to make the transformation we need, creating a food system fit for the future, that is healthy, sustainable, and meets the needs of a growing population.

“Today we are calling for new ideas from experts, innovators and investors, right across the food system. We encourage anyone who has an idea or a business that can make a real difference, with potential to scale and grow, to apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

EIT Food is searching for 100 agrifood entrepreneurs to transform the food system and shape the future of food, from aspiring entrepreneurs with new business ideas across universities and education centres, to early stage startups and scaleups with an ambition to expand internationally.

It is looking for ideas and businesses across European markets, designed to have the highest impact when shaping the future of food, and aligned with the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy. The search focuses on new ideas across six key focus areas: sustainable agriculture, sustainable aquaculture, alternative proteins, digital traceability, circular food systems and targeted nutrition.

In the first virtual EIT Food Venture Summit, running on the 17 and 18  November, investors and corporates will be able to explore commercial partnerships and investment opportunities with over 130 high-impact startups and will hear pitches from a select group of some of EIT Food’s existing partners and entrepreneurs. Interested new startups will also have an opportunity to learn about flagship programmes and connect with other agritech leaders.

Applications to join the 2021 cohort of agrifood entrepreneurs will open early next year and close in Spring 2021.  Register your interest and find out more here.

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