Science - June 26, 2019

Young Wageningen companies present their products

Albert Sikkema

Over the past three months, eight Wageningen start-ups developed business cases with the help of StartLife, the Wageningen organisation dedicated to start-ups in the agricultural and food sectors. On 25 June, they presented their companies and received a diploma for the Accelerator programme.

The company PreMal shows investors its mosquito trap in Plus Ultra. © Guy Ackermans

Sander Janssen is an experienced software engineer at Wageningen Environmental Research, but he is also the founder of the emerging company Wageningen Agricultural Monitoring (WAM). This company predicts the yields of crops from climate data. In the past three months, Jansen investigated whether there is a market for his product and which team he should establish the business with. On Tuesday, he gave an elevator pitch in front of a group of other entrepreneurs, StartLife supervisors and investors in Plus Ultra, together with seven other start-ups.

On Tuesday 25 June, most start-ups were thoroughly questioned by an assessment committee of investors who assessed their business cases. They examined such aspects as which competitors are already on the market and whether and start-ups distinguish themselves. Later this week, they will be told whether they can move on to the next round, in which StartLife will once again offer support and can make a concessional loan of 25,000 euros available to further validate the products.

Gastric acid
Clevabit developed an affordable data platform for cattle farmers; SAIA Agribotics develops a picking robot for bell pepper and cucumber farmers; and Thelial works on vegetable antacids. Most entrepreneurs are or were connected to WUR.

Knowledge companies must think big in order to take steps. For example, Thelial must carry out trials to check the functioning of the antacids. They are looking for investors who would be willing to bear the associated costs – 3.5 million euros. And FUMI Ingredients, which develops special vegetable proteins for meat substitutes, is aiming for a market turnover of tens of millions of euros and intends to build its own factory.

Earlier this year, StartLife invited 25 starting entrepreneurs who wanted to participate in the Accelerator programme. Three review panels then assessed the products, the market and the entrepreneurs, and then proceeded to select eight start-ups. The next Accelerator programme starts in autumn. Young entrepreneurs can register with StartLife until 1 August. The selection day will be in early September.

More on the PreMal and FUMI Ingredients companies will follow later.