When it comes to innovation, foodtech is an inescapable trend in Switzerland today. From robotics, to blockchain, to biochemistry, food companies and start-ups are using research and new technologies to empower consumers to change their eating habits, improve agricultural productivity, reduce waste and respond more effectively to current sustainability values.
Every year, no less than CHF 2.6 billion is invested in food innovation in our country, according to the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley initiative. A recent study shows that Switzerland is at the forefront of several trends in this sector. Agritech, for example, has developed in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Drones, automated irrigation and disease prediction software are now used to minimise the consumption of resources, increase crop yields and control disease. In the field of food science, new ingredients and products are being researched and developed. Alternative proteins mean that foodstuffs such as meat can be grown in the laboratory in a sustainable and ethical manner. In parallel, the deployment of blockchain is being used to strengthen the traceability of food ingredients along the supply chain. Further solutions are in the pipeline in the area of catering services, food delivery and food waste to improve the management of restaurants, develop new ways of ordering or reduce waste at the industrial level.
Innosuisse is committed to supporting innovative projects in the field of foodtech and aims to stimulate the thoughts and actions of industrial and research partners in this field. Since last year, it has been supporting the Innovation Booster Swiss Food Ecostystem to explore current challenges in the agrifood sector and develop radically new solutions in interdisciplinary teams. This approach is complemented by other approaches, such as the Networking Event Series Business In Sustainable Foodtech and Swiss Food Research, which give players interested in the topic the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas during specific events. At the same time, Innosuisse supports numerous innovation projects and promotes start-ups active in foodtech. For its director, Annalise Eggimann, it is crucial to innovate in this field, because it is an issue that concerns us all. “We need to be aware of the impact of our consumption patterns. Sustainable food production is a major challenge in Switzerland and worldwide. New technologies offer SMEs and start-ups the means to develop innovative solutions and new business models that have a positive impact on the agrifood ecosystem."
Non-exhaustive overview of companies supported by Innosuisse within the framework of innovation projects or coaching:
- Embion Technologies is developing new bioactives to facilitate agriculture without treatment using antibiotics.
- Fenaco in cooperation with Sunrise, the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST) and Agroscope, is developing an automated system for weeding docks and sorrels growing in open fields.
- IP-Suisse in collaboration with the ETH Zurich and the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), wants to develop a more climate-friendly and antibiotic-free system of grassland milk production.
- JDC Electronic in collaboration with the School of Engineering of the canton of Vaud and Agroscope, is developing a new advisory system for fruit growers that improves the quality and prediction of harvests and reduces water consumption.
- Vivent SA in collaboration with Agroscope and the Schools of Engineering of the cantons of Vaud and Fribourg, is developing a new method for monitoring crops. Plant biosignals are captured and interpreted using artificial intelligence to study crop stress.
- Voltiris produces solar modules that allow farmers to generate electricity without reducing the yield of the greenhouse crops growing underneath the modules.
- Alver produces superfoods based on Golden Chlorella, a micro-algae rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.
- Crookit produces plantain-based French fries and sauces for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten allergies.
- Cuckoo, working together with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), is developing a plant-based ice cream that offers new sensory perceptions.
- Cultivated Biosciences supplies producers of plant-based cheeses with milk proteins obtained through fermentation.
- EggField specialises in the development of plant-based egg substitutes.
- Emmentaler, in collaboration with the University of Fribourg and Agroscope, is conducting research to improve the sensory properties of Emmentaler cheese.
- Emmi, in collaboration with HES-SO VS, is developing a plant-based semi-hard cheese with a high protein content.
- Koa Switzerland, in cooperation with Lindt & Sprüngli and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), is working on the production of chocolate made from 100% cocoa beans and cocoa pulp, both obtained from the same fruit.
- Micropow is developing a powdered ingredient for use in food products that stabilises and enhances aromas and flavours, and enables instant foaming in products such as coffee.
- Nectariss markets natural truffle flavours. It wants to make a positive impact on the luxury foods market by developing new natural flavours and sustainable foods.
- New Roots, in cooperation with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and Agroscope, aims to develop new vegan cheeses exhibiting improved structure, consistency and properties.
- Planted produces meats made from plants. The company is working in cooperation with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) to improve the quality of its products.
- Schenk, in collaboration with Seduna STC and the Changins School of Viticulture, is developing a technology to improve the colloidal stability of wines.
- Schöni Swissfresh, in collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and Agroscope, wants to improve the fermentation of vegetables to increase their vitamin B content, enhancing the nutritional value of the products consumed. The research focuses on sauerkraut.
- Vitarbo, in collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and Agroscope, is developing a process for extracting and refining Moringa leaves so that they can be used to derive protein powders for use in food.
- Yumame Foods develops food products manufactured using mushrooms and fermentation.
- The Tête de Moine inter-branch organisation, in collaboration with the University of Zurich, Agroscope and Fromarte, is developing an authentication system to improve transparency and trust along the Tête de Moine AOP value chain.
- SwissDeCode specialises in rapid food testing and certification to assist farmers and food manufacturers in their efforts to trace and identify undeclared ingredients and contaminants.
- Foodetective brings all the online hospitality services needed by restaurant owners together on a single digital platform.
- Mikafi is working with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) to develop a computer program that allows consumers in food service establishments to choose the coffee bean roast that best suits their tastes.
- Nexenic is developing a smart, portable and lightweight lunchbox called steasy, which is capable of reheating meals anywhere and anytime.
- LAPP Tec is developing home-compostable coffee capsules with a customisable design for coffee from local roasting houses. The service and production will be developed in conjunction with algorithmic production planning together with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).
- Agrosustain is developing a 100% natural solution that delays the degradation of fruits such as strawberries, pears or bananas.
- Kitro is developing a system to calculate what restaurants throw away, why, and how much this is costing them in an effort to improve their consumption.
Foodtech and Innosuisse
Planted has been producing plant-based meat derived from pea protein since 2019. The Zurich-based company’s products are sold throughout Switzerland. To convince even more meat eaters to take the plunge into a “meat-free world”, Planted has teamed up with ZHAW to develop more appetising products.
Tonnes of food ends up in the waste every day in the kitchens of Swiss restaurants, hotels and hospitals. The Swiss start-up Kitro helps companies to reduce food waste.
Interview with Peter Braun, agri-food engineer
Producing food more sustainably thanks to technology. This is how the future of our food supply needs to be shaped, according to Peter Braun, Manager of the Swiss Food Ecosystems Innovation Booster. When it comes to food technology, Switzerland still has room for improvement. Read the interview.
Spotlight on Swiss foodtech in Paris
Swiss foodtech start-ups had the opportunity to introduce themselves to an international audience in Paris in mid-June. Thanks to Innosuisse and its programme of participation in international trade fairs, several new companies were able to take part in Viva Technology.
Innovation Boosters are four-year initiatives to support, through open innovation, the transfer of knowledge and working with partners along the entire value chain of a theme. Using design thinking methods, the NTN Innovation Boosters help participants jointly identify and research problems and to develop radical, new solutions in interdisciplinary teams.
The aim of the Networking Event Series is to bring together people from research, business and society and along the entire value chain to focus on one theme. The event itself is centred around transferring knowledge and networking and may also include the generation of ideas around a common issue.
Last modification 12.08.2022
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