Sustainable brewing and oral vaccines win entrepreneurship awards

Published on
February 15, 2023

MoVax and BrewRight are the winners of the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2023. MoVax, winner of the Start-Up Award, convinced the jury with their oral vaccines made of algae and received a prize fund of €35,000 to take the next step. BrewRight won the Impact Award with a prize of €15,000, which will enable them to take the next step in a circular brewing process for craft beer.

The finale took place on 10 February and was concluded with a celebration of four
years of the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant.

Start-up Award for MoVax

Now we can develop our proof of concept
Christian Südfeld

Founder of MoVax Christian Südfeld was delighted when the jury announced his team as winner of the Start-Up Award. “In that moment, I realised that all of our efforts had really paid off.” He convinced the jury with his oral vaccines made from microalgae. These can be easily produced and distributed around the world, which will aid in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, such as COVID, influenza and hepatitis. The jury was impressed with the technology behind MoVax. “And translating such an idea from the academic sphere into a business idea is very impressive,” said Heleen van Poecke, one of the instigators of this grant and chair of the jury this year. The prize money will go to the development of a proof of concept. “Once we have the proof of concept, we will be ready for seed investments and we will start developing products.”

Team from MoVax with their award
Team from MoVax with their award

BrewRight wins the Impact Award

This is a validation of our hard work
Yoni Mol

The team members of BrewRight were elated with their award. “It is really great to get validation like this after having worked so hard. Now we can really take the next step,” says Yoni Mol. The jury was very pleased with their clear pitch about their idea for a circular brewing process for craft beer. “We foresee the very positive impact you can have in society,” said Van Poecke. BrewRight wants to develop a system that captures CO2 during the fermentation process, which can be reused in bottling. The prize money will be used to expand the team. “We want to work together with students who bring in added expertise. And, hopefully, they will want to become part of our team.”

Team from BrewRight sharing their elation on camera
Team from BrewRight sharing their elation on camera

Connecting with experts in the audience

As least as useful as the prize money were the new connections with experts in the audience. All five finalists were able to ask for support in certain struggles or missing knowledge. Yoni: “We have gained great contacts that want to share their knowledge about, for example, circular certification story lines, licensing and consultative selling.” The latter is extremely important to the team, as they currently lack a prototype. “Right now, we are selling an idea. If we learn to do that well, we hope to get some letters of intent, with which we can get more funding for the development of our prototype.”

Business can be both about profit and about doing good

Instigator Heleen van Poecke spoke highly of startups from Wageningen. “Every startup out of Wageningen has an impact angle to it. People from this generation are generally thinking about business not just as a source of profit but as a source for good and are showing that you can combine the two. I think that is very encouraging.”

AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant

The AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant (AIEG) is a prize from the University Fund Wageningen. The competition is organised in collaboration with StartHub Wageningen. The prize is made possible by a gift from alumnus Marcel van Poecke, supported by his daughter Heleen, and supports student entrepreneurs with impactful ideas. Each year, two prizes can be earned within the grant: the Start-Up Award (€35,000) for commercially promising ideas, and the Impact Award (€15,000) for ideas with maximum sustainable impact.