Unleashing Innovation for a Sustainable Future from Field to Fork
In a bold stride towards reshaping the landscape of the food and agriculture sectors, our cutting-edge accelerator program Future Verticals, has unveiled a cohort of startups poised to revolutionize the industry. With their groundbreaking solutions, these ventures aim to address pressing challenges, while propelling the transition to a greener economy. From digitizing the grain marketing chain to reducing food waste and fostering transparent supply chains, the 17 startups selected in the first edition of the accelerator are redefining the boundaries of what is possible.
A standout among the accepted startups is Agriniser, which seeks to challenge the outdated grain marketing chain by digitizing it and making it fair-trade in the process. Their innovative platform cuts the middleman and offers a fast and flexible negotiation approach, saving time, energy, and resources for all participants involved.
One notable participant, Trace Ground, offers a comprehensive tracing blockchain system that connects all actors in the food supply chain. This transparent platform empowers farmers, delivery services, distributors, stores, and consumers to interact and share vital information seamlessly. It facilitates deals within the chain, while ensuring compliance with regulations and customs procedures, reduces waste and enhances food safety.
Another AgriTech startup that brings our hopes for a moonshot is Smart Farm Robotix, whose team is working on the first Bulgarian weeding robot and is two prototypes down the startup road. Sfera Technologies, one more star in the Future Verticals portfolio, uses satellite imaging for analyzing land plots for potential meteorological threats. And then there’s TerraLife, which gives life to fundamental solutions for regenerative agriculture like bio fertilizers and compost.
Meanwhile, Blagodaria.bg introduces a new model of ready-made meals that minimizes harmful emissions. They offer meal plans based on user diet restrictions and are committed to wasting no food in the process, while delivering healthy meals to users’ doorsteps.
Two more startups - Foody and Foodobox - are directly combating the pervasive issue of food waste by offering marketplaces for unsold food, allowing users to purchase discounted meals during off-peak hours, thereby reducing personal carbon footprints.
La Fève by Pavel Pavlov adds a creative touch to the startup list with its futuristic-looking chocolate products with unique fillings like black garlic, bacon, and typical Bulgarian flavors like yogurt and rose geranium. Every new product, referred to by the founders as ‘edible jewelry’ undergoes an extensive development process, showcasing the dedication to innovation within the startup. No wonder they were invited to create the chocolate gifts for the Nobel prize winners ceremony.
A good sport to the jewelry chocolate is Entree Food which focuses on artisanal cookies made with less sugar, less flour and locally sourced ingredients, emphasizing zero-waste packaging and vegan options. In this gourmet company is also Gourmoli, offering cold-pressed walnut and hazelnut oils using a traditional Bulgarian wooden press. Their oils are superior in taste and recognized by Michelin star restaurants in France. The leftovers from the process are used for the production of high-protein walnut and hazelnut flours, making the process virtually zero-waste.
Future Verticals is home to two startups focused on plan-based proteins in two very different ways. IcePro, founded by a 19-year old student puts the plant-based protein in a product loved by everyone - ice-cream - and has already made distribution deals with some of the biggest e-commerce outlets and gyms in the country. ExSeed has actually built the technology to extract high quality protein from sunflower seeds, which we have in abundance in Bulgaria. They’re hyper focused on satisfying producers’ high demand for plant-based protein. Rosey’s Mark is another startup in the food category focused on extracting the maximum benefits of another product we have in abundance - the Bulgarian Damask rose. They mix it in chocolate, tea and more and have already stepped on the Japanese market.
The accelerator will not be complete without LXIR - a healthy alternative to the energy drinks and DeepGreen - a functional drink containing all the needed vitamins and minerals. Last but not least comes ShenGum - aiming to solve the nasty problem of the omnipresent, unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly gums, it offers a biodegradable and super tasty gum that actually holds consistency.
All of these startups support the local economy and are doing their best to create a durable business, champion sustainability and offer consumers environmentally conscious choices. “We’re very proud of each one of them and their acceleration in the past 3 months and beyond. In the beginning, everybody was skeptical that we’d get any applications, let alone any good ones. We got close to 50 applications. Our mentors, corporate and investment partners, who are top experts in the AgriTech and FoodTech verticals, are impressed by the quality of our startup cohort.” said Elina Zheleva, Managing Director of launchlabs Sofia.
As the urgency to build a greener future intensifies, the importance of agritech and foodtech cannot be overstated. By harnessing advanced technologies, such as precision farming, vertical agriculture, and blockchain traceability, these startups aim to tackle key challenges facing the food and agriculture industries. “Foodtech holds immense promise in addressing pressing global challenges driven by factors such as increasing population, environmental sustainability, and food security. The startups in the accelerator program are at the forefront of solving some of the industry's most critical problems. The scarcity of foodtech and agritech-focused accelerator programs makes this initiative in Bulgaria even more significant, capturing the attention of early-stage startups from neighboring countries and igniting a wave of innovation in the region.” added Ivan Draganov, Program Lead at Future Verticals.
As the foodtech and agritech accelerator program ushers in this new wave of innovation, it paves the way for a future where technology and sustainability converge harmoniously. These startups, with their bold visions and transformative solutions, offer a tantalizing glimpse into the immense potential for a greener and more resilient food system. With their groundbreaking endeavors, the prospects for a sustainable future have never been brighter.