Brave New Food & Catalyze: strategic partnership for 'next' generation food solutions
Brave New Food is a European food innovation platform for ‘next generation food solutions’. The aim is to create a truly open innovation platform and ecosystem, within which many partners deliver specific expertise to facilitate collaboration and innovation – ultimately aimed at accelerating the food transition. Catalyze and Brave New Food formed a strategic partnership that sees Catalyze deliver its industry leading funding and strategic expertise to startups and scaleups in the platform. We spoke with Bas Allart, co-Founder of BNF, and Neeltje Ramnath, Business Unit Manager – Catalyze Green & Sustainable, to learn more about BNF and the partnership.
Brave New Food: Creating an open innovation platform
Together, the BNF platform offers a thriving community of innovative startups/scaleups, and leading food corporates, retailers, distributors, impact investors and knowledge partners. In the platform partnerships can be created freely.
Bas Allart describes the motivation for starting Brave New Food: “There a many great initiatives around food, such as accelerator programmes and challenges issued by companies. However, we saw a lot of lost potential, because the large numbers of applicants who are not selected are left behind.
“This is why we decided to start Brave New Food. We wanted a true open innovation platform. That means we have partners from all parts of the food chain; from producing companies, to retail food service and everything in between. In our platform they are free to create partnerships to boost their food solutions.”
Connecting expertise, facilitating collaboration
The mission of BNF is to connect innovative ideas from startups and scaleups with established food companies, helping the established food companies to scout for new opportunities, new solutions and new products.
Bas points out how this distinguishes their platform: “As far as we know, we are the only food related open, collaborative, innovation platform. We believe that innovation in the food system does not come from one single startup or one single company, but you need multiple companies and multiple stages to connect to each other and collaborate to make change happen.”
Neeltje highlights the importance of being partners with BNF: “What makes a partnership with BNF so interesting is that BNF are creating a very active ecosystem with a growing group of different stakeholders (national/international, funding-related/technology-related), who are collaborating to accelerate innovation in the Food sector.
“This facilitates collaborations between partners and pitching startups. However, it is also leading to more collaborations between the partners within the BNF ecosystem – which gives room for ideation and acceleration of innovation.”
Brave New Food challenges
BNF holds two calls for pitches per year, one for Sustainable Food Solutions, and one for Healthy Food Solutions. Currently the Sustainable Food Solutions 2022 call is open (deadline March 22 17:00 CET), with a number of Industry Challenges including Alternative proteins, Valorisation of (food) side streams and food waste, reducing single use packaging, and more.
New ideas are welcome from startups, scaleups and other established companies looking for new ways of innovation. Pitching a solution creates the chance to access new markets, networks, expertise or funding opportunities. Interested parties can find out more by following the link at the end of the article.
As Bas explains, in addition to the Industry Challenges – and the option to submit a Wildcard pitch – there are also Company Challenges:
“The Industry Challenges in the open call are quite broad. They are about themes that are relevant to lots of parties in the food industry. At the end of last year, we also introduced the possibility for everybody who joins the platform to pose their own company specific challenge, to help them find very specific solutions to their needs. Startups just have to look and ask, ‘Does my solution fit in what they are looking for?’”
Catalyze: partners delivering funding and strategic expertise
Partners in the BNF network each have their own responsibility, providing unique and complimentary expertise to the ecosystem. As the first partner providing strategic funding services, Catalyze delivers industry leading expertise on national, European, and international funding strategy.
After they opened the first call, BNF quickly understood the need for a partner with this knowledge. Bas explains, “After we started a year and a half ago and opened our first challenges, we received 220 pitches from 21 different countries to our first Open Call. I must admit, this surprised us, as we didn’t foresee that we had such a broad international reach from the start.
“We had lots of startups who were looking for (non-dilutive) funding, but also risk capital, but we didn’t have a partner in our network to service that. So, before the second round I called Neeltje and we established our partnership with Catalyze.”
Neeltje describes the opportunity: “At Catalyze we have seen that many companies in the Green & Sustainable Innovations sector are not familiar with using subsidies to accelerate their innovations. Therefore, it is very important to provide companies with accurate, honest information about how to make optimal use of the opportunities available.”
Learn more about Brave New Food’s Open Call: Sustainable Food Solutions 2022