From the 3,500+ active startups on the continent, when we were working on DigitalFoodLab’s report on the European FoodTech, we were also looking for the most interesting ones with the idea of creating a snapshot of Europe’s FoodTech ecosystem in 2021. Hence, we have created a list of the 50 most interesting European FoodTech startups based on the following objective and subjective criteria:
- Who is on board both in terms of money (amounts invested, presence of renowned investors) and the background of the entrepreneurs
- Hype and trend: is the startup able to create noise and attract interest even before having a working product or service? And does it match a current trend that we identify as key for the coming years?
- Geography and category distributions: we have selected startups that somewhat match the distribution of investments and categories across the continent
- Potential: does the startup have a big potential and how much impact can it have?
Here is the mapping of the 50 startups:
As you can see from the mapping, delivery and foodscience startups are overly represented as these two categories are growing fast, notably with grocery delivery and alternative proteins. These startups are not nimble ventures. Combined, they have raised €5.9B, mostly over the past few years. Many of them are the incarnation of what we call the third generation of European FoodTech startups:
- They focus on the two disruptive technologies and game-changing sets of trends :
- better foods for a better future (autonomy with urban farming, traceability and transparency, better health and a more sustainable food system with alternative proteins)
- food automation (foodservice and grocery delivery, cloud kitchens, food and delivery robotics)
- They raise huge amounts fast and even before having a working product.
- Their founders benefit from the experience they have acquired by working in previous generations of startups (that is particularly the case for dark stores founders, many of which had key jobs in restaurant delivery companies).
This mapping also shows some voids in packaging (notably biocoatings) and nutrigenomics (the use of DNA and microbiome). However, these are well compensated by the success of the TOP 50 startups. They have raised huge amounts of money in just four months. If they keep this rhythm, the European FoodTech investments could go as high as €8B in 2021 which would be a 200% increase over 2020!
Finally, even if we considered this criterion as one of the least important, the TOP 50 startups are almost distributed as is the whole European FoodTech ecosystem. Though, we can observe three divergences:
1- an over-representation of Nordic’s startups which are more and more aligned with the trends mentioned above
2- a significant over-representation of French startups in number but not in investments. This correlates well with the size of the whole French ecosystem which contains many underfunded startups.
3 – an equal underrepresentation of UK startups in terms of investments.
The TOP50 European Startups
- AgTech startups with a strong focus on animal-feeding using insects: Ynsect, InnovaFeed
- Agriconomie, the B2B marketplace for agriculture supplies such as fertilizers, seeds, spare parts, workshop equipment, and crop protection products
- Infarm, modular vertical farming units that can be stacked to meet any space
- The farming robot startups Vitibot
- Hummingbird Technologies, an imagery analytics provider for agriculture players using AI
- Tropic Biosciences, the leader in the development of novel high-performing commercial tropical crop varieties and traits, using cutting edge genetic editing technologies
- Orderbird, the Europe leading Point-Of-Sale application for foodservice
- Swile (formerly known as Lunchr), an app to let employees manage all their corporate benefits (with an initial focus on lunch cards financed by companies)
- Karma Kitchen, the leading cloud kitchens operator
- Deliverect, a solution that integrates online orders from food delivery channels into restaurants’ POS to improve their operational flow
- Choco, the app that connects food suppliers and restaurants on one global platform
- Winnow, a solution to help companies in hospitality reduce food waste and cost, increase gross profit while decreasing impact on the environment
- Too Good To Go, an anti-squandering app that allows users to recover unsold merchants at low prices, at closing
- Flipdish, which helps on-demand food businesses create branded food ordering systems, websites, and apps.
- Karakuri, the UK food robotics company
- Chefclub, a cooking channel that shows and broadcasts cooking recipes on social media
- Lifesum, a digital health startup that helps clients become healthier by using applied psychology and technology
- Vivino, the world’s largest wine community and most downloaded wine app, making wine discovery fun, accessible, and easy to understand
- Alkemics: it enables suppliers and retailers to better connect their data streams through its platform and have greater control of their data and of what is shared with consumers
- Connecting Food, a solution that works on the issue of product compliance (according to gluten-free, organic claims, etc.) using blockchain
- Provenance, a platform for transparency that creates a digital passport for products: information and stories about who made it, where and out of what materials
- Oatly, the Swedish oat-milk startup, which is preparing its IPO
- Feed and Huel, the European leading meal replacement startups
- Lactips has developed a bio-sourced, biodegradable, and water-soluble packaging made of casein, one of milk’s proteins
- The Protein Brewery, a Dutch startup that specializes in developing and making animal-free-based protein in a sustainable way
- Meatable and Mosa Meat, the two Dutch startups working on clean-meat, and Gourmey, the youngest of the startups in this list, that aims at replicating foie gras from duck cells
- The plant-based companies Planted Foods, The Meatless Farm, N!ck’s
- Formo, which develops dairy-based products without cows
- Solar Foods, that produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity as the main resources
- Grocery delivery startups
- The Italian instacart-like startup Everli
- Phenix, the French startup which aims at ending food waste with a set of solutions for the whole food value chain
- The (not yet public) leading restaurant delivery startups: Wolt (Finland) and Glovo (Spain)
- The French virtual restaurants Taster and Not So Dark which creates exclusively online brands
- Gousto (UK) and Simple Feast (Denmark), the two leading meal kit startups
- The leading Farm-To-Home startup Farmy
- Starship Technologies, which builds self-driving local delivery robots
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