Startups, Accelerators & Incubators

The Flexitarian Project is Born, the Largest Collaborative Plant-Based Project Between Startups & Spanish Food Companies

The largest Spanish collaborative project between startups and large food companies has taken its first steps at the Open Innovation & Investment Day, the event that marks the closing of the initial phase of work of KM ZERO Venturing, the first Spanish open innovation program for startups in foodtech.

Under the name of The Flexitarian Project, this pioneering initiative has been confirmed by its promoters, the companies Familia Martínez, CAPSA VIDA and Helados Estiu together with the startups Väcka, Wevo, Grin Grin Foods, Gimme Sabor, and Quevana, with the aim of bringing healthy, sustainable and accessible plant-based products to the market for the consumer, in addition to promoting the visibility of plant-based foods.

The potential of collaborations to change the food industry

Along with this important project for the food industry, during the Open Innovation & Investment Day, the development of more than a dozen projects in different stages of maturity was revealed, promoted by the startups and food corporations that are members of the KM ZERO Venturing program. A set of initiatives that range from the creation of new ingredients, sustainable packaging, the valorization of by-products from the food industry, and solutions against food waste, to the application of technologies to optimize production processes and supply chains.

Spanish startups Väcka and Libre Foods collaborate for The Veggie Burger Warriors Campaign
Image courtesy of Väcka

In the words of the director of KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub, Beatriz Jacoste, “Collaboration between industry and startups is, in many cases, the only way to respond to the challenges of the future of food. What we call open innovation is the basis of KM ZERO Venturing, a place where a multitude of synergies have been created between companies and entrepreneurs and which has favored investment agreements.” Specific projects have been born from this platform, such as The Flexitarian Project. “This is an example of the potential of collaboration between large corporations and startups to change the food industry,” she said.

First phase

Among the projects that emerged in the first phase of KM ZERO Venturing work, we have been able to learn about the pilots to reduce salt in foods under development by Familia Martínez together with Nucaps, as well as that headed by Mahou San Miguel to produce a spoon made from beer bagasse. Likewise, progress from other foodtech companies within the program was also announced, such as Maolac, Agrosingularity, ColorSensing, and Oscillum, a startup specialized in smart food labeling that is developing a work plan with Makro.

Innovations in sustainability and process efficiency have also played a prominent role at the event, thanks to the announcement of projects such as the one led by CAPSA VIDA together with Carbon Harvesters, a startup specialized in helping farmers reduce their carbon footprint and improve the biodiversity of your crops in an economically viable way. Along these lines, Helados Estiu and the startup Follow Inspiration have advanced the approach of a European project that allows different robots to operate in low-temperature conditions.

KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub
© KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub

One of the largest platforms in Europe for open innovation

With only two editions behind it, KM ZERO Venturing has established itself as one of the largest platforms in Europe in open innovation for the food industry. In its current call, the program received more than 220 applications from startups from 22 countries. This initiative has had a key weight in KM ZERO’s role as a reference hub for the foodtech ecosystem, which in the last year alone has facilitated more than 60 collaborations between entrepreneurs and large food companies, in addition to nearly 40 connections between investors and startups.

KM ZERO Venturing started its second call in July 2023, doubling the number of participating startups with the selection of 20 startups that are currently working with open innovation models together with the nine food industry corporations promoting this edition: Embutidos Martínez, Traditional Dishes, CAPSA VIDA, Vicky Foods, Helados Estiu, Makro, Mahou San Miguel, Incarlopsa and Grupo Arancia. In addition, the program collaborates with more than 20 investment funds to facilitate the financing of potential projects.

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