Innovation and Inventions at the 2017 FoodBytes! Austin

foodbytes austin

FoodBytes! is a pitch competition-meets-networking event from Rabobank that aims to bring together the game-changers pioneering the future of food and agriculture.

This week I got to attend an innovative event that was a cross between a foodie Shark Tank and a networking conference for food and agriculture startups.

As a beer blogger, over the past few years I have seen craft beer become a player in sustainable food and agriculture innovations and inventions.

foodbytes austin

Especially so, when it comes to food industry innovations that are pioneering a more sustainable and better future.

And that’s where Rabobank comes in. Rabobank is one of the world’s largest banks with over $750 billion in assets.

In the Americas, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, agribusiness and beverage industry, providing business counsel, strategies, and financial solutions to clients across the entire food chain!

FoodBytes! is their pitch competition-meets-networking event for pioneers of the food industry. Since FoodBytes! launched in 2015, more than 1,400 companies have applied to pitch to over 2,500 attendees at events on three continents.

 

foodbytes rabobank
Manuel Gonzalez, Global Head of F&A Innovation Rabobank, created FoodBytes! in 2015 in an effort to support the search for new ways to increase impact in the Food and Ag innovation space.

FoodBytes! Comes to Austin, Texas

The FoodBytes! event in Austin was their first time coming to Texas. At Brazos Hall in Downtown Austin, dozens of game-changing startups, investors, and leaders pioneering the future of the food industry gathered to pitch their vision.

Basically, I got to rub elbows and talk with food industry investors and dozens of Mom-and-Pop businesses looking to change the world.

Everyone (including the media!) there shared a similar mission though: to create a food and agricultural industry that is an innovative as it is sustainable.

The lineup of food industry pioneers showcased in Austin included solutions to pressing agricultural challenges such as livestock management tech, food by-product up-cycling, novel plant-based proteins and functional beverages.

foodbytes austin

Creating a More Sustainable Future, Today

The goal of feeding the ever increasing population, addressing changing needs and preferences of the people as well as pushing the necessity to use resources in a sustainable manner, presents many challenges, such as environmental pressure, but it also provides many opportunities.
The companies that pitched this year at the 2017 FoodBytes! Austin came from four countries, including Australia, India, New Zealand and the United States.
“FoodBytes! is a compass for the 21st century food system,” said Robyn O’Brien FoodBytes! Judge. “It attracts innovators and investors with shared values across food, tech and agriculture.”
There were two categories of pitches. The big event had ten companies giving 3.5 minutes to pitch their vision for innovation to a panel of expert judges, and participate in an audience Q&A.
An additional ten companies gave intense 60-second pitches to the panel and it was a great, albeit a bit of a whirlwind, kick off for the FoodBytes! Austin event.

2017 FoodBytes! Austin Winners:

People’s Choice Award

Using the FoodBytes! app, the audience voted for crowd favorite Sugarlogix to land the People’s Choice Award.

Sugarlogix (Berkeley, CA) – Maker of functional sugars that enhance the immune system, promote gut health and reduce inflammation without compromising taste.

Judges’ Choice Award

Beyond the Shoreline (New York, NY) – Creator of a new wave of seagreens-based snacks, like “Kelp Jerky”, that are packed with protein and are vegan and non-GMO and free from dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, refined sugar and gluten.

Highly Commended Award

Aspire Food Group (Austin, Texas) – The judges selected the Highly Commended Award winner from the 60-second pitch companies. Austin-based Aspire Food Group developed the first automated cricket farming technology and manufactures environmentally-sustainable and nutritious products under consumer brand, Aketta.

The winners are awarded a number of prizes to help them grow their businesses, including consulting services and innovation experiences and expert counsel from FoodBytes! partners. Which also includes the opportunity to pitch to leading food and agriculture c-suite executives at Rabobank’s Annual F&A Summit!

Complete List of Pitch Finalist Companies for Austin FoodBytes!

10 companies gave (3.5-minute) pitches:

  • Beyond the Shoreline (New York, NY) – Creator of a new wave of seagreens-based snacks, like “Kelp Jerky”, that are packed with protein and are vegan and non-GMO and free from dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, refined sugar and gluten.
coffee flour
Coffee Flour uses the by-product of coffee milling operations – the pulp and skin of the previously discarded coffee cherry – and turns it into a nutritionally-dense flour.
  • Coffee Flour (Bellevue, WA) – Uses the by-product of coffee milling operations – the pulp and skin of the previously discarded coffee cherry – and turns it into a nutritionally-dense flour. Coffee Flour serves the health and sustainability needs of the food & beverage industry, while also generating significant economic, environmental and nutritional impact in coffee-growing communities.
  • GrubTubs (Austin, Texas) – Reconnecting cities to farms via its “Table-to-Farm” movement, GrubTubs collects and converts food scraps from restaurants into “grubs”, a more nutritious and cost-effective animal feed for local farmers.
  • Intello Labs (Karnataka, Bengaluru, India) – Uses Artificial Intelligence for quality evaluation of fruits, vegetables, grains and other agri crops and commodities. Users click an image of the crop, and using AI and Image recognition, they are able to measure quality parameters like crop infestation, nutrient deficiency and commodity quality.
  • Know Brainer Foods (Lafayette, CO) – Makes portion controlled ketogenic products to fuel the mind and metabolism with essential fats, not sugar, so that eaters stay alert and satiated throughout the day.
  • Native State Foods (Los Angeles, CA) – First company to introduce pinole, an ancient Aztec power food, to the U.S. through its Purely Pinole line of hot cereal and snacking products.
  • Sugarlogix (Berkeley, CA) – Maker of functional sugars that enhance the immune system, promote gut health and reduce inflammation without compromising taste.
  • Vence Corp (Key Largo, FL) – Hardware and software solution that reduces fencing and labor expenses on livestock farms and reduces the costs associated with producing pasture-raised Vence Corp offers an Invisible Fence meets Fitbit, for cows.
  • Vitox Drinking Vinegar (Los Angeles, CA) – Fermented blend of raw cold pressed juice and apple cider vinegar that delivers a 100% natural, shelf-stable and naturally probiotic health beverage.
  • XING Technologies P/L (Queensland, Australia) – Creates disruptive, rapid, point-of-care, highly cost-effective nanotechnology solutions for the agricultural and animal health industries. XING Technologies P/L screens for, diagnoses and monitors disease to improve biosecurity and deliver savings.
wild poppy
Wild Poppy from California was a partner of the 2017 FoodBytes!

10 companies gave (60-second) pitches:’

  • Aspire Food Group (Austin, Texas) – Developer of the most advanced insect farming technology to produce high quality Aketta™ protein from farm-raised crickets. Aspire also makes environmentally sustainable and nutritious products under consumer brand, Aketta.
  • D’vash Organics (Los Angeles, CA) – Maker of Date Nectar, a delicious and healthy alternative sweetener and honey substitute made from organic California dates that are vegan, non-GMO, gluten free and fat-free.
  • Frshly (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) – First-of-its-kind automated retail marketplace that makes fresh food accessible by creating a collaborative ecosystem for food providers and consumers. Frshly offers an IoT ecosystem that connects multiple restaurant partners, host locations and consumers.
  • Greensbury Market (New York City, NY) – Sells high-quality beef, poultry and seafood online, delivered directly to customers. Everything Greensbury carries is certified organic, grass-fed, free from chemicals and humanely raised.
  • Peaceful Fruits (Peninsula, OH) – Makes healthy, delicious, rainforest-friendly fruit snacks that let consumers eat better and help build a better world.
  • Regen (Wellington, New Zealand) – Provides irrigation recommendations for farmers via a mobile app that optimizes water use, while maximizing plant growth and minimizing nitrogen leaching.
  • Ripened Ventures (Emeryville, CA) – Developing and commercializing natural and healthy fermented drinks. Ripened Ventures applies fermentation technologies to poorly diversified fruits and vegetables, using autochthonous non-GM microbes previously isolated and identified.
  • The Empanada Shop (Redondo Beach, CA) – Makes certified organic, authentic Mexican empanadas with non-GMO grass-fed meats, vegetables and chiles. The Empanada Shop aims to create a new clean Mexican food experience in the fast casual and frozen food market.
  • Think.Eat.Live. (Wildwood, MO) – Developer of a flour made from sunflower seeds that has four times more protein and fiber than other flours. Delivers nutritionally balanced baking mixes and other flour based foods that provide one-third of daily protein requirements.
  • Your Superfoods (Los Angeles, CA) – Makes it easy for people to eat natural vitamins and minerals with its seven nutritionist approved, easy-to-use and 100 percent organic superfood protein mixes for more energy, better immunity and healthier skin.

FoodBytes returns March 2018 and the first stop is San Francisco

FoodBytes! 2018 events will be announced later this year. For more information, follow FoodBytes! on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or view curated content via the hashtag #FoodBytes.

Make sure to keep up to date with FoodBytes! to meet the new pioneers who are changing the food and agricultural industry for a better future.

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