Future Food Asia, the one-of-a-kind agrifood tech startup competition aimed at promoting innovation in AgriTech and FoodTech across the Asia Pacific, has announced the winners of the second edition of US$100,000 Future Food Asia Award and the S$50,000 Startup SG Grants. The awards were presented on May 23, 2018, in Singapore.
Future Food Asia is Asia Pacific’s leading platform to connect startups, investors, multinationals, government organizations, and research teams. Founded in 2016, it is accelerated by the Future Food Asia Award (FFAA), which aims to showcase Asia Pacific’s top start-ups and innovators guiding disruption in the Agri-Food value chain.
The event was organized by ID Capital, a VC investment and advisory firm founded by Isabelle Decitre in 2012. Headquartered in Singapore, the organization is specialized in the domain of AgriTech and FoodTech in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year, OneCrop, the Australian agritech startup led by Andrew Logan has been named the winner of the US$100,000 Future Food Asia award. The Australian startup is selected for the award for its innovative solution that increases crop yields and addresses the issue of plastic waste in agriculture through a unique degradable pre-emergence mulch film.
OneCrop provides a technologically advanced and cost-effective film that stores soil moisture, increases soil temperature, and ensures vigorous early germination and plant growth. This, in turn, can allow commercial farmers around the world to increase their productivity with no impact on the environment. OneCrop’s mulch films are designed to work for a number of cropping system and the majority of soil types and climates.
Future Food Asia is a unique platform for recognizing agritech startups and entrepreneurs that are working towards building disruptive and sustainable innovations for solving the problems of inefficiencies and scarcities in the agri-food value chain.
Such innovations are crucial to meet the challenges posed by rising world population, urbanization, land scarcity, and global warming. Therefore, nurturing innovators working towards sustainable food solutions is of immense importance. This year, the competition received a record number of applications from 19 different countries in the Asia Pacific region and a 30 percent rise in total applications compared to last year.
The 10 finalists, as well as the winner, were selected by a jury comprising complementary domain experts – Gerard Jacquin, former Director of Partnerships, Transfer and Innovation at INRA, Europe’s leading agricultural research institute; Dr. Ralph Graichen, Director of Food and Nutrition at A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council; Victoria de la Huerga, Vice President of ADM Ventures, Archer Daniels Midland Company; and Isabelle Decitre, Founder and CEO of ID Capital.
Isabelle Decitre, Founder, and CEO of ID Capital said, “The Future Food Asia Award stage provides a voice to the AgriTech and FoodTech start-ups in the Asia Pacific. The diversity in the problems being addressed and the origin of these solutions presented today reaffirm the need for a regional platform for this budding innovation ecosystem. We are proud to catalyze it. As our community of like-minded investors and partners expands, we work towards having more impact over the years to come.”
Highlighting the importance of the award Andrew Logan, CEO of OneCrop said: “The Future Food Asia Award experience has been transformative for us. OneCrop has a vision to radically change global farming. However, we need opportunities like FFAA to engage with influential individuals and organizations to accelerate our growth, otherwise, we would be still sitting back in Australia trying to get heard. We are thankful to ID Capital and the FFAA partners for their support and their vision to make a difference in the future of agriculture.”
Four other startups – Alchemy Foodtech from Singapore, FIB-SOL Life Technologies from India, PureSpace from South Korea, and Shenzhen Qianhai Xiaozao Technology from China have been selected for the S$50,000 Startup SG Grants by Enterprise Singapore, in consultation with the FFAA judging panel.
Mrs. Kee Ai Nah, Enterprise Singapore’s Executive Director for Lifestyle & Consumer Cluster, said, “AgriTech and FoodTech are becoming increasingly important in helping us address the long-term challenges of food nutrition and sustainability. Through the Future Food Asia Award, Enterprise Singapore hopes to identify promising startups with innovative solutions that can lead the industry into the future. We welcome these startups in Singapore’s vibrant ecosystem to develop new products and solutions for the region and beyond.”
Alan Pua, Co-Founder, and CEO of Alchemy Foodtech has informed the media about the kind of challenges and opportunities they encountered in their journey to become a winner of the Startup SG Grants. In her words, “Future Food Asia Award was a rigorous process that forces us to think through our business case, IP strategy, and commercialization plan. It also gave us a great opportunity to interact with MNCs, science agencies, and startups from around Asia, which served as a great technology validation to our work. This would not be possible without the great support from Enterprise Singapore, bringing in parties from and beyond Singapore.”
The winner of Startup SG Grants, Alchemy Foodtech is a deep technology startup funded by NRF/SPRING TECS grants. The company aims at preventing the global diabetes epidemic by lowering blood glucose spikes of carbohydrate staples like refined jasmine white rice, white bread, noodles etc., with their ingredient innovations that have been clinically proven.
Another winner of this category FIB-SOL Life Technologies has developed a patented nanofiberplatform technology to provide light-weight, consistent, and stable biofertilizers. The technology allows the delivery of a high payload of active ingredients in a stable form, thereby reducing the bulkiness and enhancing the efficiency of biofertilizers. Besides logistics savings, the technology helps improve the yield and environmental footprint of farming.
While receiving the award, Dr. S. Kavitha, Director of FIB-SOL Life Technologies has thanked the Enterprise Singapore and ID CApital, and said: “We at FIB-SOL are very happy to be awarded the Startup SG grant. I would like to thank Enterprise Singapore and ID capital for recognizing FIB-SOL as one of the winners. As a tech startup in agri-sector, this award is an impetus for us to cater to the global agri-community. This opportunity is an inevitable gateway to business avenues in Southeast Asian countries for FIB-SOL.”
Ms. Lee Sun-Young, CEO of PureSpace, also thanked the Enterprise Singapore and talked about the future plans of the company. She said, “It is a great honor and pleasure to be a winner of Startup SG Grant. I would like to thank ID Capital, Enterprise Singapore and other contributing organizations of FFAA. Post-harvest losses in the supply chain is a global issue and we are grateful for this opportunity to showcase our solution. With FFAA, we look forward to helping solve the fruit and vegetable waste problem not only in Asia but also globally.”
The startup PureSpace provides innovative solutions to increase the shelf life of fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, which can greatly reduce post-harvest losses. It has developed a proprietary nano-catalyst technology to completely decompose ethylene gas and airborne bacteria effectively and safely. Further, due to their handy portable device, their solution can be deployed at multiple points of the supply chain.
On the other hand, Shenzhen Qianhai Xiaozao Technology Co., Ltd, specializes in the mass cultivation of natural microalgae nannochloropsis, as well as the production of its derivative such as EPA (Omega-3) products. They have invented proprietary technologies and know-how in processes like strain selection and development, cultivation, harvesting, and downstream processing.
Shenzhen Qianhai Xiaozao Technology Co., Ltd is the first company in the world to deliver a line of EPA products with commercial scalability and economic viability. Microalgal derivatives such as EPA products are vegan, heavy metal free, eco-friendly, and superiorly bioavailable in GI tracts over fish oils.
While thanking and applauding the Future Food Asia platform, Dr. Yu Wei, Founder & CEO of Shenzhen Qianhai Xiaozao Technology explained the kind of innovations they are doing to provide better nutrition to both humans and animals. “We would like to thank the Future Food Asia platform for recognizing our work on microalgal EPA (an omega-3 fatty acid). Large-scale cultivation of microalgae has the potential to add a new dimension to modern agriculture, utilizing non-arable land and recaptured CO2 to produce algae that would deliver high-quality nutrition to both humans and animals. We are really excited about the potential of algal EPA and we are honored to be recognized,” he said
The Future Food Asia Award (FFAA) is a one-of-a-kind event with a focus on AgriTech and FoodTech in the Asia Pacific region, and for this purpose, it brings global investors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, government officials, and general sustainability enthusiasts under one roof.
Panel discussions were held on navigating through the pitfalls of scaling up a startup in the AgriTech and FoodTech domain, as well as on the need for tailoring acceleration frameworks for startups in the same domain. Other highlights of the Future Food Asia Award 2018 include a keynote address by Josh Tetrick, Founder, and CEO of JUST and another by David Li, Director of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab.
Over the years, FFAA has benefited from the continued support from Singapore Economic Development Board. Emphasizing the interests of EDB in the agriculture and food technology, Lee Eng Keat, Executive Director, Natural Resources, EDB said, “Singapore has seen rising interests in agriculture technology and food technology in recent years, anchoring notable investments such as ADM’s innovation center here. ID Capital’s Future Food Asia Award has been a strong catalyst in growing these new areas and serves as an excellent platform for startups to gain greater exposure to the rest of Asia. We look forward to working alongside like-minded industry partners to advance the sector, that will create new job opportunities for Singaporeans.”
FFAA has also received support from Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM), one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers; leading public research agency A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research); and enterprise development agency Enterprise Singapore. It is also joined by global science-based company Royal DSM, active in nutrition science and innovations across the Asia Pacific, and global agricultural commodities and food merchant Louis Dreyfus Company.