Spain has approximately 400 startups within the Foodtech sector, a figure that is comparable to countries such as France, slightly higher than the United Kingdom and less than half of the 900 startups working in the agri-food value chain in Israel.
This is reflected in the first quantitative study carried out in our country on the state of Foodtech in Spain, promoted by Eatable Adventures, an innovation hub specializing in the agrifoodtech sector at the global level.
The complete report can be downloaded by clicking on this link.
The term Foodtech is very broad and encompasses all those agents that apply technologies to the agrifood value chain, from production to consumption of the food, providing innovation, efficiency, safety and sustainability.
"The consumer is the main driver of all innovations, both because of consumption trends and because of the demand for food that is going to skyrocket worldwide, according to the UN, to 9.7 billion people in 2050. It is a question of food sufficiency, of guaranteeing food for the whole population, which makes the agrifoodtech sector a great opportunity for our country", said the CEO of Eatable Adventures, José Luis Cabañero.
Startups and the agrifood value chain
It is very significant to see how almost 40% of the Spanish startups in the Foodtech sector are focused on the area of food production and transformation, as this is a trend that is occurring at a global level and not only in our country.
Products made with new ingredients and new sources of ingredient production represent almost 70% of the activity in this area. On the other hand, the new channels of direct sales to the consumer completely capitalize the category of distribution and retail since 85% are working in this area. The startups had already proven to be very agile in capturing the client and the Covid has boosted their market penetration even more.
The investment in Foodtech
Foodtech is a growing sector. The figures speak for themselves and according to the latest report from AgFunder, one of the main investors specialized in this area, the total amount of investment in Foodtech at a global level was 19.8 billion dollars in 2019, consolidating the United States as the undisputed leader by obtaining 44% of the total negotiated, followed by China, India, the United Kingdom and Israel.
With regard to the type of startups invested, the Foodtech sector has taken a turn in recent years and, for the first time since 2016, investment in delivery has been reduced while interest in startups focused on food production and transformation has grown, especially in alternative proteins, where the successful IPO of Beyond Meat in 2019 meant the consolidation of investment interest in innovation in the agri-food value chain.
Overall, the level of investment received by Spanish startups throughout their lives, compared to other ecosystems, is relatively low (649 million); 65% of this volume has been captured by Glovo, which has so far led investment in the sector, but we are beginning to see a great boost from other startups, showing that investment in the Foodtech sector is growing steadily in our country.
The volume of investment, without taking into account Glovo, has gone from 45 million euros in 2019 to a forecast of almost triple in 2021, 131 million euros. Among the startups that have attracted the most investment in the last year are Qubiq Foods, Biome Makers, Foods for Tomorrow, Bio Tech Foods and BioFlytech.
On the other hand, 72% of the startups that have participated in the study state that it is not easy to access public aid for their development and 63% believe that the food industry should support innovation more through collaborative programs with startups in our country.
Spain Foodtech Startups Program
It is precisely from this need for collaboration that the Spain FoodTech Startups Program arises, promoted by Eatable Adventures with the aim of supporting the development of solid startups in our country and which has the technological support of the National Centre for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA) and institutions such as ICEX and Food for Life. It is the first program in which all the actors of the ecosystem are really involved because today, more than ever, the collaboration between the different agents is necessary.
For Mila Valcárcel, managing partner of Eatable Adventures, "through this program we want to boost the Spanish agrifoodtech ecosystem and amplify the visibility of a high-value sector, which positions us globally as an innovative country and, furthermore, promotes the attraction of clients and investment. Our country is a great power in the field of food and requires directing efforts to build the future of the sector, developing a solid ecosystem of agrifoodtech".
After a rigorous selection process, six startups out of the 170 presented will become the protagonists of the program: COCUUS, H2HYDROPONICS, INNOMY, MOA, PROPPOS and WHATTHEFOOD.
In the next six months, the startups will be able to receive up to 500,000 Euros of investment from the main investors in the sector at a global level, and will have a personalized work plan led by a senior team that will work in areas such as: technological development and protection of intellectual property, access to global markets, branding purposes, product or service improvement and financial plan, among others.
In addition, they will have access to CNTA's technological support, focused on achieving the development and technological consolidation of their solutions in a shorter period of time. Precisely, the study shows that 64% of the startups develop the technology "in house" which highlights the lack of collaboration with technology centers, a barrier that the program aims to break and that differentiates this initiative from other acceleration programs in the country.