The Future Food Asia 2021 conference organizers have announced the 10 startup finalists who will be competing for the $100,000 Future Food Asia Award. The companies will pitch their ideas at the 5th Future Food Asia conference, to be held virtually from 7–11 June.
In addition to the main award, the startups are eligible for prizes from two event sponsors, Cargill and Thai Wah. Global agricultural trading and manufacturing company Cargill will award a prize to a startup with a product that will improve health through nutrition. Plant-based food manufacturer Thai Wah will award the Circular Bio-Economy Prize for a startup that can repurpose waste and biomass into useful products.
According to a press release from conference organizers ID Capital, the number of award applicants grew by 24% compared to last year. The largest number of applicants came from India, Australia, Singapore, Israel and South Korea. There were more than 140 applications from 17 countries.
Isabelle Decitre, CEO and founder of ID Capital, congratulated the finalists and thanked them for participating in the event. “Whilst coming up with the most diverse value propositions, what unites these entrepreneurs is the capacity to keep their feet on the ground and their heads in the clouds," Decitre said.
A panel of judges from ID Capital, Cargill and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) assessed the applicants against 14 criteria, including proof of concept, the defensibility of their technology and the importance of the problem addressed. The selection process commenced in January.
Besides Decitre, the jury comprised Ralph Graichen, Senior Director of Food and Consumer Cluster at the A*STAR Biomedical Research Council, Xiuling Guo, Managing Director of Cargill Global Edible Oil Solutions Asia and Francesca Kleemans, Managing Director of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Asia. The same jury will select the winner of the Future Food Asia Award.
Agrifood tech, cleantech and more
Three startups are from the alternative foods sector. Australian startup Change Foods, with its animal-free cheese and dairy products manufactured through microbial fermentation, New Zealand’s Sustainable Foods, provider of plant-based protein products made from natural ingredients, and South Korea’s REharvest, which upcycles byproducts from beverage manufacturing into flour, pasta and granola bars.
The smart agricultural sector is represented by India’s Fasal, a full-stack platform that incorporates artificial intelligence and internet-connected sensors to collect and interpret farm data, and Iamus, an Irish startup that uses a robot to monitor chicken farms and helps owners make data-driven decisions.
From the manufacturing sector are two Hong Kong-based startups: IXON, which offers packaging that enables fresh meat and seafood to be stored safely at room temperature and Senior Deli, which makes food thickeners, softeners and prepacked soft meals for the elderly and those with swallowing difficulties. Another startup from the sector is Singapore’s Allozymes, which has developed faster methods for engineering enzymes used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
Two Australian finalists are tackling waste and pollution problems through new technology. Bygen is processing biomass waste to create activated carbon, a widely used product in water filtration, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and health foods. The other company is Bondi Bio, which uses bacteria to capture CO2 and manufacture various chemicals.
“It has been a much-debated competition and we are pleased to see the emergence of agrifood tech ecosystems in a number of countries that were traditionally only providing a small number of contenders,” said Abhinav Mehra, the VP of ID Capital.
The conference will also feature panel discussions on a number of themes, including the arrival of agrifood tech into the mainstream, the emergence of alternative proteins in the Asia Pacific and the challenges of building a more sustainable food system.
CompassList is an official media partner of Future Food Asia 2021. Register for the event here.