BioTech Foods, the voice of the sustainability of the future at South Summit 2021

Under the slogan ‘Shape the future’, Madrid will host the South Summit 2021 from 5 to 7 October, an important international event for corporations, investors and leaders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at which BioTech Foods will be present. The agrotech sector has burst into the Top 10 with the most entrepreneurial projects, according to the ‘Entrepreneurship Map 2021’.

Organised by IE University in collaboration with Madrid City Council, South Summit 2021 will take place in a combined format (physical and virtual) at La Nave.

The slogan ‘Shape the future’ aims to be a call to action addressed to the global innovation ecosystem to be part of the transformation through the three hallmarks of South Summit: connection, innovation and business. The feature of this year’s event is that a fourth pillar, essential for shaping the future, has been added: sustainability. It is an invitation to participants to join the green transformation and commit to reducing their net carbon emissions.

Once again,  the 100 best startups from the global and national ecosystem, chosen from among the more than 3,800 projects in this year’s Startup Competition will be in South Summit. Of these, 64% are of international origin, coming from 24 countries, especially from the USA, UK, Nigeria, Germany, India, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, France and Argentina.

Madrid will therefore become the epicentre of entrepreneurs and experts in innovation who stand out for their active contribution to the green transition, such as Christopher Gavigan, co-founder with the actress Jessica Alba of The Honest Company; Gunter Pauli, creator of The Blue Economy concept; Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of Klarna, the most valued European fintech; Bisila Bokoko, one of the 10 most influential Spanish women in the business world in America; Marcelo Claure, CEO of Softbank, the Japanese investment giant; or Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, who will participate virtually.

Our CEO and co-founder Iñigo Charola will present at South Summit 2021 the trajectory and experience of BioTech Foods, since its founding in 2017 as one of the global forerunners in the alternative protein ecosystem. His intervention will be on 6 October at 17.00, as part of the panel: ‘The Foodtech boom: Startups transforming the food industry’, moderated by Beatriz Jacoste (KM Zero HUB Director) and in which Giuseppe Scionti (Novameat) and Pablo Rodrigo Juan (Trazable) will also participate.

NextGen competition

South Summit has also launched the NextGen competition, aimed at promising young entrepreneurs between 14 and 17 years old, who will be able to participate in the project competition, make their presentation to investors and high-level corporations and be inspired by the talks given by experts and successful entrepreneurs to prepare them for their future as entrepreneurs.

The agrotech sector, in the top 10 of entrepreneurship

As a prelude to the event, the South Summit has just presented an annual report on Spanish entrepreneurship, which, among other aspects, highlights the emergence of the Agrotech sector in the ranking of the top 10 sectors with the most entrepreneurial projects.

Although the fintech sector continues to be the leading industry in the entrepreneurial universe, the ‘Map of Entrepreneurship 2021’ reflects that both agrotech and e-commerce have experienced a significant boost due, in large part, to the pandemic. On the other hand, the health and education sectors continue to account for many entrepreneurial projects.

According to the authors, innovation in traditional sectors continues to be one of the keys to economic transformation. In addition, another of the data highlighted is that the number of entrepreneurs with a doctorate has grown, which points to greater specialisation and the consequent increase in highly technical profiles setting up startups in Spain.

Healthy and sustainable food for sustained growth

Iñigo Charola, CEO of Biotech Food, collaborates as an ambassador in the KM Zero Food Innovation Hub which objective is to support the development of alternative proteins that produce healthy diets in sustainable food systems, such as cultured meat.

KM Zero Food Innovation Hub promotes the transformation towards a healthier, sustainable, resilient and fairer food system. Our CEO Íñigo Charola collaborates as an ambassador of this project, which is joined by leaders from all over the world who, through innovation, work on the most disruptive solutions to the challenges of the food sector.

The network of ambassadors is made up of people who are shaping the near future of food. A near future in which the development and production of alternative proteins such as cultured meat play a key role in reducing environmental impact and protecting animal welfare. As Charola explains in an interview with elmundoempresarial, “the idea of contributing to the fight against climate change was one of the motivations that led us to create the company, because, in addition to science, we are interested and concerned about the environment and sustainability”.

But what exactly is KM Zero Food Innovation Hub, and why does Biotech Food support the initiative?

KM Zero Food Innovation Hub explores and works in the same terms of our project: sustainability, food innovation, climate change, environmental impact… The hub, based in Valencia, pursues objectives that involve all of us in seeking new answers to the biggest human challenge: to provide a growing world population with healthy solutions that come from sustainable food systems. That means transforming the way we produce, distribute, consume and reuse food. KM Zero understands that the challenges can only be successfully met by collaborating and investing more in innovation, which must drive the transformation of the food sector, and precisely what we are working on and developing at Biotech Food.

To seek and achieve a better, more sustainable planet and respond to the challenge of feeding an ever-growing world population, KM Zero identifies, connects and encourages collaboration between people and initiatives that are driving change by working for better food. This food innovation hub works with startups, companies and the community, attending various events and conferences on technology and innovation in the food and beverage industry. 

Access to the food tech entrepreneurial ecosystem

Km Zero offers these startups support, experience, knowledge and resources for the projects to evolve and succeed through a four-month mentoring programme, which provides them with a multidisciplinary team of experts in the world of food, industry contacts and resources for generating impact. One of these startups is Trillions, a company that offers cricket protein nutritional supplements. Gabriel and Albert are the two young entrepreneurs and visible heads of this project, which uses cricket flour with pea protein and natural ingredients to formulate new products that improve sports performance.

The innovation hub also supports companies in the food industry with innovation strategy projects, co-creation and access to the food tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. Close to the community, KM Zero generates and shares information and trends in the food sector, as well as offering educational experiences related to innovation and the future of food.

In terms of conferences and events, the hub participates in several of the most relevant activities in the sector, such as the Food 4 Future World Summit, the largest European conference on technology and innovation in the food and beverage industry.

In June, Íñigo Charola attended the Food 4 Future Expo FoodTech 2021 international trade fair to help respond to the major challenges facing the food sector. BioTech Foods was one of the 20 companies selected by the organisation, from among more than 2,000 food-tech startups, to present their progress to the international community, and to place the development and production of alternative proteins, which Charola and his team have been working on since 2017, at the centre of the debate.

KM Zero is also participating in the Ftalks Food Summit, which brings together the key players in the food ecosystem transformation. Focused on sustainability and health, the event serves as an inspiration for entrepreneurs who meet the top global leaders in the transformation of the food system.

‘Culturedmeat’ project, our mission for food sustainability

We have added an important achievement to the exciting challenge in which we are immersed: to make cultured meat a reality in our diet soon. The CULTUREDMEAT project, led on the technological side by our company BioTech Foods, has received the highest rating in the ‘Missions’ call of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). We tell you all the details of our mission!

The CULTUREDMEAT project aims to research meat produced from cellular agriculture that, together with the development of healthy fats and functional ingredients, allows the production of meat products for the prevention of colon cancer and increase in the concentration of cholesterol and lipids in the blood.

This project has submitted to the ‘Missions’ call of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), a program aimed at supporting strategic sectorial business innovation initiatives within the framework of the State Programme for Business Leadership in R&D&I of the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020. Out of a total of 128 proposals submitted, only 24 were approved, with CULTUREDMEAT being the best rated in Spain in all areas of the call.

In the context of a world threatened by climate change, where population growth poses a challenge when it comes to combining food and sustainability, cultured meat is undoubtedly one of the greatest innovations of our century, integrating food safety, animal welfare, and sustainability.

Who forms ‘Culturedmeat’?

CULTUREDMEAT has come into being through the cooperation of national biotechnology companies specialized in nutrition and production technologies. BioTech Foods is leading the technological part of this project.  Seven other entities and ten research organizations are involved in the consortium.

Benefits of cultured meat and challenges

The consumption of red meat is associated with diseases like colon cancer and dyslipidemia. In Spain, specifically, colon cancer is the most frequent cancer in the population. Research into functional ingredients that can help prevent these diet-related diseases with a high social impact is fundamental.

The biggest challenge for the cultured meat sector now is the industrial scale-up to produce sufficient volumes. Cultivated meat production has aroused great interest in the industry and, numerous investment funds are betting on this meat of the future that reduces environmental impact and protects animal welfare. Research and development projects for cultured meat are now also the focus of attention from public institutions.

A few months ago, the European Union, through its Horizon 2020 program, awarded the first public investment in cultured meat (more than 2.7 million euros) to the ‘Meat4All’ project, an international consortium led by BioTech Foods. This joint work aims to supply the world’s growing demand for animal protein while addressing the main drawbacks of today’s industrial livestock farming: health, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare issues.

Cultured meat’ is already a benchmark in the global alternative protein sector and, Spain is among the few countries with advanced business projects that are scaling up production to start commercialization. Biotech Foods, which has been working since 2017 on the development of its ‘Ethicameat’ cultured meat, was the first Spanish company to enter this market.

Is there something in common between the new ways of meat production and farming crops?

Yes, of course. Both aim to establish more sustainable routines. In Ethicameat’s blog we analyze a phenomenon that, like cultivated meat, is called to play a leading role in the future of food: vertical farming. An innovative way to save water and soil.

Vertical farming is an innovative cultivation technique that consists of producing food on vertically sloping surfaces. Versus traditional agriculture, instead of growing vegetables and other foods at one level on the ground in a field or greenhouse, under this method they are produced in layers arranged in height, stacked on top of each other. It is usually carried out in large structures such as warehouses or industrial containers.

But does this new mode of cultivation have any advantages in terms of saving resources? The answer is yes. The objective of vertical farming is to maximize crop production in a limited space and in addition to save soil surface, water, and emissions. According to UN estimates, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion people in 2050, which means that current food production will have to be intensified by 70% to cover global food needs. All this will be an increasing challenge in the context of the climate emergency and the level of deforestation in which we find ourselves.

The large-scale city garden

Vertical farming goes one step further than city gardens, increasingly common in homes and common spaces in large cities: the industrial-scale cultivation of local food, without pesticides and whose production does not generate emissions. Furthermore, from the consumer’s point of view, the purchase of fruit and vegetables are grown nearby by new techniques such as vertical farming can reduce emissions generated by transport and the supply chain as well. Vertical farming is one of the lines of research of the “Mediterranean Horticulture” group of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, led by Professor Juan Fernández, which is trying to analyze the technology involved in this cultivation technique and also its profitability challenges.

The keys of vertical farming

It looks like science fiction but it’s real. Vertical crops rely on three key systems: hydroponics, aeroponics, and sometimes aquaponics. Through hydroponics, plants consume nutrients through the water distributed in their roots. In this way, plants receive a combination of mineral salts diluted in drinking water for their development without the need for soil.

Through aeroponics, the stems and roots of the plants, suspended in the air, are mechanically sprayed with a nutritive liquid. This technique is ideal for leaf crops such as coriander, rocket, lettuce or watercress.

Finally, one option sometimes applied in vertical farming is aquaponics, which introduces aquatic animals such as fish, snails or crabs into water so that their secretions serve as nutrients for plants.

In addition to the advantages mentioned above, it should be noted that the development of plants is faster, and crops can be produced throughout the year and in any place without depending on the weather conditions. Also, pest control of crops is easier and the use of fertilizers is not necessary. At the moment the great challenge is to advance in the sustainable generation of electric energy through LED lighting that vertical agriculture requires.

More sustainable, safe and quality food

Like all those who are already betting on vertical agriculture, Ethicameat works on the development of cultured meat to achieve a complementary alternative to traditional livestock farming that contributes to reduce the environmental impact. The objective of vertical agriculture and cultivated meat is to rely on innovation and technology to provide the food industry with more sustainable, safe, and quality products for the consumer. The consumer will soon have within reach a healthy and sustainable meat alternative of animal origin. Livestock farming consumes 25% of the planet’s freshwater and land and accounts for 15% of greenhouse gases. Our form of production consumes 99% less land, 75% less water and reduces emissions by 90% compared to a similar meat product. The future of sustainable food is getting closer!