local hub to test circular food innovations on the local market
EIT Food is the largest food innovation networking organisation in Europe. Every year, it generates more than 200 innovative ideas for a sustainable and circular food chain. The challenge lies mainly in implementing and scalingup ideas and (local) access to the companies and consumers who will use the products.
With the Food Circle Lab project, we want to create a local hub where we connectselected start-ups and various local parties to experiment together with products and services that bring the circular economy in the food sector one step closer.
The lab focuses mainly on the validation and implementation phase of the innovation tunnel: innovative products and services from start-ups in our network are scanned for potential application in Flanders (including Leuven, Mechelen, Ghent). They are then given the opportunity to implement the new product with local partners and further scale up their start-up.
The start-ups participate in professional trade fairs and tastingevents where they can test their product with end users (tastings, surveys ...). The feedback is instructive and helps guide their market strategy.
Via events and all kinds of actions on social media (quizzes, actions, influencers, etc.), we help increase the brand awareness of the start-ups. The importance of social media as an affordable marketing tool has been proven.
Thanks to some key people and companies from the circular field, the production process of some start-ups was professionalised and brought more in line with the zero-waste philosophy.
We organised several networking events that opened doors to economic opportunities for many start-ups: to grow further, develop and distribute products. Among others, contacts were made with big players such as Delhaize.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Having a success story behind your start-up certainly adds value, but it is not enough. It is also important to stick to your roots as a company. Slow, thoughtful growth will help ensure the circular production process.
Market research and tastings in the food industry are a must. Consumer research on taste, colour, texture, packaging, pricing ... always works very enlightening and helps a start-up grow.
Appealing to the social economy has a positive effect on both pricing and a company's image. Sustainable business means that the return goes beyond the financial: social profit also counts.
A discovery package can be a very interesting formula for a start-up. When some participating start-ups launched such a package, they turned out to be bestsellers in their product range.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Our selected start-ups will be included in the New European Bauhaus programme in the coming years and will also receive support from there.
For our events, in cooperation with a professional chef, we have prepared acateringoffer of, among others, the selected start-ups and new start-ups in the circular economy. This way, we continue to contribute from EIT Food in their market strategy, knowability and visibility.