Foodtech is an exciting industry on the rise. But what does the present and future hold for Foodtech in Southern Sweden? We’ve spoken to two Swedish Foodtech startups about their businesses and their views on the regional Foodtech climate.

The Business of Food Attracts Investments

Foodtech is a blanket term for food sciences that develop new and innovative solutions for food growth, processing, cultivation, production, and distribution. Throughout the years, the industry has moved from public skepticism to an industry with the potential to ensure a sustainable future. Resultantly, investors are abiding to the saying: put your money where your mouth is. According to CUBE, global investments increased by 58% between 2015 and 2016.

But how does the industry hold up for startups in Southern Sweden? We’ve spoken to two companies at different ends of the Foodtech-scale: Innoscentia and Local Food Nodes.

“One Day’s Extra Shelf Life Saved 140m SEK Per Year”

Innoscentia creates a bacteria-detecting sensor that accurately predicts the shelf life of produce. This startup was founded by Robin Thiberg and Erik Lindberg in 2015 and is a direct result of a fortunate research-hap by Martin L. Olsson, Professor at Lund University, who discovered a special powder that detects the presence of volatile bacteria in food. Paired with NFC technology, the sensors collect data that indicate food degradation. Consequently, producers and retailers are able to process food effectively, save costs and increase food safety.

“Food safety is a highly-prioritized issue in the European Parliament, in The United States and in China. With real-time analysis of volatile food bacteria, you’re able to prevent foodborne outbreaks. In addition, unreliable and static methods of establishing a product’s shelf life results in food waste and economic loss”, says Robin Thiberg, CEO of Innoscentia.

He continues:

“We conducted a case study with a British company that specializes in fresh chicken filets, and they told us that one extra day’s shelf life saved them 140 million SEK each year. And that’s only within one single product category”, says Robin Thiberg, CEO of Innoscentia.

The Goal: To Make Food Local Again

Local Food Nodes, founded by Albin Ponnert, organizes the distribution of locally-sourced produce by creating a direct link between producer and consumer via a digital tool. Operating on the goal to make food local again, consumers are presented with a wide array of produce that they can book and pick up at designated destinations. As an effect, local and economic development is boosted.

“Local Food Nodes has its origin in my vision to eat what I grow. And as a solution-oriented person, I wanted to create a way for food producers to sell their produce directly to local consumers – without the middleman”, says Albin Ponnert, Founder of Local Food Nodes.

He continues:

“It started as an experiment carried out at Bygdens Saluhall in Röstånga. It created a lot of buzz and attracted national and international attention. So we created a digital tool that makes the concept available to a larger public. The amount of users is increasing steadily.”

Know Your Market – And Solve Its Problems

Even though Local Food Nodes and Innoscentia are at different ends of the Foodtech industry, they both emphasize the importance of knowing your market. Albin Ponnert developed the digital tool in coherence with the opinions expressed by producers and consumers. Robin Thiberg says that he and Erik developed their sensors by introducing their bacteria-detecting powder to retailers in the food industry who wanted to be able to detect food degradation digitally.

A Region in the Nucleus of Food

As a hotspot of high-tech companies, research facilities and business competence, southern Sweden is a region in the nucleus of innovation and a fertile and flourishing ground for continuous advancements within the field of Foodtech. Albin Ponnert says that Southern Sweden has exquisite prerequisites with its impeccable agricultural landscape and great infrastructure. Robin Thiberg, CEO of Innoscentia, says that is was a no-brainer to establish their Foodtech business in Lund:

“Martin, Erik and I have ties to the region. But also, why move to Stockholm and increase your costs with 200% when everything we need is right here? Southern Sweden has strong food processing and packaging industry, it’s a cluster for life sciences and advanced technologies and has a strategic position close to Denmark, Germany and other international markets.”

So, what should you keep in mind when establishing a Foodtech company in Southern Sweden? Albin and Robin both agree that it all boils down to knowing your market. The key, they say, is to pinpoint a problem, listen to the market and create solutions that meet their needs!

More reading on the same subject: 5 Foodtech Startups You Need To Put On Your Radar