MOA Foodtech wins Scale It Up! innovation challenge

The start-up MOA Foodtech is the winner of the European Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge 2022. Following the successful program in the US in 2021, Bühler, Givaudan, Cargill, Puris, and the new partner DIL (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik) bring their combined innovation power to bear and help plant-based protein start-ups scale up and commercialize in Europe and in the Middle East.

From over 50 start-ups who applied for the challenge, a final cohort of five companies made the final: Aliga Microalgae from Denmark, YEAP from Israel, Plantway from Poland, Cultivated Biosciences from Switzerland, and MOA Foodtech from Spain. Each received initial support from the partners as well as a week of development and scale up at the facilities of DIL in Quakenbrück, Germany.

The winner and the runner-up will be supported during a 3- and 6-month acceleration phase, respectively. They will have access to mentorship and the extensive networks of the partners, and most importantly, will be given R&D support with access to the pilot plants of the partners to bring their ideas from prototypes to market ready. This support is equivalent to more than EUR 100,000 in technical expertise and access to state-of-the-art testing facilities.



The winners

The jury selected MOA Foodtech from Spain as the winner for the Europe & Middle East challenge. MOA Foodtech combines biotechnology and artificial intelligence to transform side streams and byproducts of the agri-food industry into “next generation protein” with high nutritional value that is sustainable. With an objective of solving the world’s growing food demands without the need for arable land, MOA Foodtech designs high-value, natural, and nutritious food through innovation and upcycling.

“This Scale It Up! Innovation challenge was a great experience for us. We had some amazing results in just one week of trials, and we are very excited about what we are going to do in the next few months with these great partners. We are confident that we will take meat analogs to the next level,” said Bosco Emparanza, Founder of MOA Foodtech.

The runner up, Cultivated Biosciences from Switzerland, is developing a clean label and sustainable fat ingredient from oleaginous yeast, which offers the creaminess needed for plant-based dairy. Their innovation promises to help make plant-based dairy products creamier and more indulgent.

“Receiving this validation from the jury composed of the heads of R&D of the best foodtech companies and institutions in the world is an incredible milestone for us and source of motivation. The Scale It Up! Challenge is unlike any other challenge. The access to the facilities to pilot our ingredient as well as connection to the decision makers in the food industry has allowed for amazing improvements in our R&D and collaboration pipeline,” said Tomas Turner, Co-founder, Biosciences.

Ian Roberts, CTO at Bühler Group, said: “This was our second Scale it Up! Challenge, our first in Europe, and again it was simply amazing. The finalists were all so inspiring and full of passion, working tirelessly to create solutions that will transform our food system.”

Fabio Campanile, Global Head of Science & Technology Taste & Wellbeing at Givaudan, added: “The finalists were so strong in this challenge that it made selecting a winner very difficult. The range of technologies from algae-based ingredients to fats produced via fermentation was outstanding. I’m sure we will see much more from all of the companies involved.”

With the completion of successful challenges in the US and Europe, the sponsor companies will bring the next Scale It Up! Challenge to Asia later this year.


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