Recently, we started our participation in the EIT Food Accelerator Network. It’s really exciting to be part of this program and we are looking forward to gain more industry knowledge and grow as a startup throughout the duration of the program. We know just how valuable it is to be part of an EIT Food program because we are already a part of their ecosystem as an alumnus of other programs. Since participating in the EIT Food programs, we have received questions from various entrepreneurs and startups about how useful it’s been, how to join, etc. So, in this blog, we want to give an insight into EIT Foods, tell you how they have helped us as a growing startup, and hopefully answer some of your questions.
What is EIT Food?
Supported by the European Union, EIT Food is a part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. It leads the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. EIT invests in projects, individuals, and organizations that have goals to deliver positive impact at speed and scale. It connects stakeholders right across the food system to drive change through collective learning, problem solving, and invention. Across Europe, it unlocks innovation potential in businesses and universities, and helps to create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. It’s no surprise, then, that EIT has been an integral part of Cano-ela’s journey so far.
EIT Programs Cano-ela has Participated in:
EIT Seedbed Incubator
The Seedbed Incubator is a six-month program that aims to transform science and technology-based innovations, that can help solve global food system challenges, into investment-ready, market-validated businesses. The program is part of Europe’s largest agrifood network.
At the end of the program, each cohort team is automatically enrolled as Seedbed Alumni and then invited to pursue opportunities for follow-on funding to support their commercial roadmap. This may include spinning out, starting up a new company, or establishing further technology feasibility tests with suitable identified partners.
EIT Food Accelerator Network
The EIT Food Accelerator Network (EIT FAN) connects impactful agrifood startups with industry-leading corporate and research partners to pilot their technology and drive the ultimate goal: a successful market adoption.
It allows startups to become part of a rich network of businesses and research institutions, and make crucial relationships that will help you fast-track innovative solutions for a better food system.
Participants get access to facilities such as labs, pilot sites, maker spaces, agricultural land as well as financial support for piloting technology for selected startups.
Participants build skills, benefit from mentoring and gain exposure to the market, potential customers, investors and media, and receive tailored support to raise seed or series A investment.
How Did Cano-ela Find Out and Become Involved in EIT Food?
CEO Juliana Romero found out about EIT while she was still doing her PhD at Wageningen University & Research. She was looking for a program where she could learn more about entrepreneurship, possibly as part of her PhD. A friend of hers recommended Juliana apply for the GFVP (Global Food Venture Programme – EIT Food) program. She did just that and that’s how Juliana, and thus Cano-ela, entered the EIT Food ecosystem.
Why Has Cano-ela Joined the EIT Food Programs?
Mainly curiosity. EIT Food is a whole institution dedicated to entrepreneurship in the food system and innovation. So, deciding to become part of the ecosystem was an easy choice.
It really has helped Cano-ela grow, Juliana even met our co-founder Alberto through the Innovator Fellowship, which helps innovators to develop their careers.
Alongside that, we’ve met a lot of post-doc researchers from around the world so that was really nice.
What were the Biggest Benefits of the Seedbed Incubator?
In general, it’s a nice program. The workshops were super useful as a new startup, but also it helped a lot to get mobility grants and some initial money, which helped to produce prototypes and those kinds of things.
The Benefit of Being an Alumnus of the Seedbed Incubator?
As an alumnus of the seedbed incubator, we were able to get a lot of feedback to fine tune our value proposition, it gave focus to some key activities and we got access to a great network of mentors and experts. Moreover, at the end of the program we got access to a great workshop to be prepared for our first investment and it was perfectly timed as it helped us to close our first round.
What Other Exciting Startups Have We Met as a Result of EIT?
We’ve met several cool startups. A couple come to mind: One of them was Revo Foods, they make vegan salmon in Austria. Also, Carbon Harvesters, a PhD project from Ecuador that is actually trying to help farmers become more sustainable and giving them carbon credits. But actually, there were a lot of great ideas and it’s exciting to get to know some of the projects and ideas people are bringing to life with the help of EIT Food.
What We Managed to Do with EIT Food What We Wouldn’t Yet Done Otherwise
It is a great way to network with the industry, giving great access to share the journey with other founders, great quality programs, and workshops. Being part of their ecosystem and using their logo has been a kind of stamp of approval and validation for the company. Because of this, we have been invited to collaborate with other companies as well as be part of projects, grant applications, and things like these because we are part of EIT. So, being part of the EIT programs has enabled us to have a lot of opportunities as a food startup.
Why Have we Decided to Continue with EIT and Its Food Accelerator Program?
We wanted to be part of it because we still wanted to be part of the ecosystem. We’ve really enjoyed the workshops we’ve had. It’s nice to keep active in the network. That is why. Often, when we have a problem, they help us to find a solution (through their network). The workshops have really helped us with getting expert advice and have been really valuable as we grow as a startup and as we look for further investment.
Advice to Other Startups Thinking of Joining an EIT Food Program
We always tell people to try and join. It’s quite easy for startups to find what the requirements are to join. These programs are usually annual. So it’s good to check in either February or March. EIT offers some great programs and we’ve got so much out of it so we thoroughly recommend it to other food startups looking for a boost.
If you want to lean more about EIT Food, you can do so by clicking here.
Connect with Cano-ela
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