Targeted nutrition in spotlight after new round of EU-funded entrepreneurship programs
14 Jul 2022 --- Companies offering new innovations in Omega 3’s, “smart” baby food, and collagen proteins are among those receiving a boost by the EU-sponsored European Institute for Innovation & Technology’s (EIT) agrifood development division, EIT Food North-West reveals.
“Accelerating innovation in targeted nutrition technologies and solutions is key to making these technologies more accessible and affordable to a wider community, as well as more user-friendly and engaging,” Laura Elphick, communications and engagement officer, EIT Food North-West, tells NutrtitionInsight.
“By increasing the range of tools and services that provide consumers with individualized dietary recommendations, we can help to empower more consumers to manage their health, providing us with an opportunity to have a real impact on the growing obesity epidemic.”
EIT Food oversees three different entrepreneurship programs: the Seedbed Incubator, EIT Food Accelerator Network (EIT FAN) and the RisingFoodStars association. Start-ups, such as SyMO3, that join these programs receive an equity-free grant to help turn their innovations into marketable businesses.
Many of the 15 start-up companies being inducted into these programs this year are focused on targeted nutrition.
“Targeted nutrition is concerned with supporting the reduction in both prevalence and relative risk of malnutrition, obesity and non-communicable diseases connected to known dietary factors in target populations,” explains Elphick.
“In the face of our interconnected obesity, malnutrition and food security crises, we need to empower and enable consumers to understand more about their own bodies and learn the best way to manage their health,” she continues.
Optimizing through personalization
Being admitted means that most of these start-ups will be supported with cash investments that do not require them to relinquish equity in their companies. Additionally, they receive assistance with market testing and access to targeted stakeholders.
“All our start-ups are evaluated by experts to assess, among other elements, the scalable viability of the solution together with the environmental impact,” underscores Elphick. “This aims to ensure the solutions can meet their goals of contributing to a healthier and more sustainable food system, and that they are long-term and affordable for both industry and consumers.”
“Adopting a personalized approach to nutritional products and dietary guidance can enable behavior changes toward healthier diets that are optimized for individuals, and take into account special medical or dietary needs for vulnerable groups and consumers.”
Eyeing collagen proteins
One of the new companies benefiting from the EIT FAN program is Lithuania-based collagen protein producer Magic Broth. EIT Food North-west says that Magic broth will produce 100% natural collagen proteins by merging modern innovation with ancient tradition. Collagen proteins are touted for both their positive effects on joints and immunity.
Milda Savickaite, founder, Magic Broth, tells NutrtitionInsight how the company will utilize the program: “We have always known that broth is good for your health, skin, and bones. But now, we can prove it and see which livestock or technological processes impact the extraction of the health-promoting compounds, i.e., different types of collagen.”
“We can compare other broths and target specific consumers, as well as looking from a sustainability point of view.”
Nutrition for the young and the old
Little Inca, another addition to the EIT FAN program, specializes in “smart baby food.” EIT FAN says this company uses plant-based ingredients like quinoa to promote healthy gut microbiomes in infants and babies. This includes Little Inca’s support of Bifidobacterium, which a recent study revealed that many infants are lacking.
Those joining EIT FAN, like Little Inca and Magic Broth, are connected with corporate and research partners in a four-month program to help them successfully adapt their innovations to the market.
Another “targeted nutrition” participant in these entrepreneurship programs is Ireland-based SyMO3, which produces long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids – an important nutrient for heart and brain health – from microalgae using new and proprietary technology. SyMO3 was accepted into the six-month Seedbed Incubator program.
EIT Food North-West has been working with the E- funded EIT since its inception in 2008 and claims to have done much to transform the food systems and unlock potential innovations. They also emphasize their commitment to continue to bring new and consumer-focused technology to the market.
“In 2020, EIT Food invested in the start-up Nium, a spin-off of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine at the University of Luxembourg,” says Elphick. “Nium uses metabolic modeling to integrate gut-microbiome and metabolic markers to predict the impact of specific foods and diets on an individual level.”
“Since then, Nium has moved forward with beginning a pilot nutrition support study for ambulatory cancer patients, which will use Nium’s Nutrida solution to provide tailored nutrition support for patients and their healthcare teams.”
By William Bradford Nichols
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