Meet the finalists of the Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award

Published on
August 25, 2022

The three finalists of the first edition of the Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award were announced today by the University Fund Wageningen. Competing for the award are WUR-spinoffs Rival Foods and Time-Travelling Milkman, focusing respectively on plant-based alternatives to whole-cut meats and creaminess in dairy alternatives, and the Slovakian company Ekolive, which provides a bioleaching method that cleans soil and waste and produces a biofertilizer.

On the 6 September 2022, they will try to convince the jury that they are the changemakers in climate-proof food systems who deserve the honor of this award and win the prize money of 25.000 euros. Who do you think should win? Let us introduce the finalists to you.

Rival Foods: towards the next generation of plant-based meat alternatives

Problem solver of: the lack of plant-based alternatives to whole-muscle meat products such as chicken breasts, fish filet or a steak. Many recipes containing meat can therefore not easily be prepared in a plant-based way without having to compromise in taste or texture. This may hamper the transition to a more plant-based diet.

Their solution: Rival Foods provides ‘rivals’ for meat, fish and poultry, without a compromise in taste, texture and bite. In this way, you can still cook traditional (family) recipes or try out new ones that normally include animal produce. And if you look on the back of the packaging, you will find a clear list of honest and sustainable ingredients. To create these products, Rival Foods uses a unique shear-cell technology to structure plant-based proteins in a way that mimics whole-cut products.

“We envision a future protein system where the balance between animal and plant protein is restored, with respect for all life on earth. Our mission is to bring out the best of nature and technology by transforming plant ingredients into sustainable, culinary and tasty foods,” say Birgit Dekker & Ernst Breel, founders of Rival Foods.

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Time-Travelling Milkman: creating creamy dairy alternatives that are sustainable to boot

Problem solver of: plant-based dairy alternatives that do not have a good creaminess or use unsustainable and unhealthy fat ingredients, such as tropical palm or coconut oil, for this. A lack of appealing dairy alternatives may impede the transition to a more plant-based diet.

Their solution: the mission of Time-Travelling Milkman is to make plant-based dairy alternatives that are creamy, that do not negatively impact biodiversity and climate change. They do this using fat droplets from plant seeds, called oleosomes. Due to their compact membrane, oleosome droplets are highly creamy in a similar way as milk fat droplets, whilst also having almost no environmental impact. The start-up provides their business partners with a customized liquid cream and powder solutions that can be added to produce easily.

“We do not have time in our hands to keep disappointing consumers. The sustainable creaminess we provide with our ingredients can become a large driver for consumers to not only switch their diets effortlessly but also to enjoy themselves while doing so,” says Dimitris Karefyllakis, co-founder and CEO of Time-Travelling Milkman.

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Ekolive: bacteria clean waste, minerals or soil
for a healthy soil

Problem solver of: challenges for society, and agriculture in particular, in land degradation and pollution. For example:

  • a growing lack of primary resources
  • high freshwater consumption
  • an increasing amount of waste
  • high fertilizer prices
  • the use of fertilizers and pesticides and their harmful side effects

Solution: Ekolive offers a so-called bioleaching technology for cleaning or processing waste, minerals or soil, with the help of bacteria. This restores the microbiome of the soil and, for example, industrial waste can be given a second life. In addition, bioleaching produces biostimulants and organic biofertilizers. These replace harmful agrochemicals and increase yields in organic farming. This technology also saves 25% on water consumption.

“Our mission is to help the environment, to ensure more, healthier and safer food, and to generate more income for farmers and waste owners. We believe the breadth and contribution of our innovative technology to achieving global sustainability goals is exceptional,” says Darina Štyriaková, founder and CEO of Ekolive.

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