The Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge, hosted during Fi Europe, gave startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a jury of R&D experts, investors, and major food and beverage industry company representatives. Bio2Coat won the Most Innovative Sustainable Solution category, as well as the Most Innovative Service, Technology or Digital Solution Supporting F&B category.
Solutions to sustainability challenges
“The idea for Bio2Coat came about as a result of a long-standing research collaboration between fellow co-founder José Ignacio Velasco and myself,” explains Farayde. “Back in 2011, when our partnership began, we realised that we shared the same passion for sustainability and had the same concerns about food waste and plastic use.”
Using their combined expertise in food and material sciences, José and Farayde began searching for technologies to address these challenges. This wasn’t always easy, as initially Farayde was based in Brazil, while José was based in Spain.
“We had to be careful that there was no duplication of effort and resources,” notes Farayde. “Finally in 2016, I moved to Spain and José, and I started to work side by side at the University Politècnica de la Cataluña.”
Turning innovation into a business proposition
After years of careful research, they concluded that edible coatings could be used to address both problems at the same time. In 2018 they secured a patent, and two years later, in December 2020, Bio2Coat was born.
“The edible coating category is not a new one, but our technology goes beyond what is out there,” explains Farayde. “Our 100% natural, edible coating offers a wide range of applications across several product ranges. This coating can also be converted into a fully edible packaging material to replace the plastic in vacuum bags, sealed pouches, and semi-rigid trays.”
The next challenge was to convert this idea into a successful business enterprise. “This is when we were introduced to EIT Food, and joined the EIT Seedbed programme,” explains Farayde. “The programme was instrumental in transforming our concept into something tangible.”
Field trials of Bio2Coat’s innovation with major fruit and vegetable producers in Spain are currently underway, and results have been very positive. Consumer assessments have shown high levels of public awareness when it comes to food waste and plastic use.
Achieving recognition for bright ideas
Farayde recognises the importance of awards such as Fi Europe’s Startup Innovation Challenge in helping to bring innovation to the market. “When we learned that there would be a startup competition at Fi Europe and that our technology was eligible, we didn’t hesitate for a minute,” she says.
“We knew we had a chance, but the competition was fierce! All finalists presented great projects. So, when it was announced that we had won not one but two prizes, the surprise was even bigger. We couldn´t have been happier. To have public recognition like this is very rewarding, and super motivating to continue working. With these prizes, we feel reassured that we are [on] the right path.”
The awards also come at a critical time for Bio2Coat.
“We are at a crucial moment in the life of any startup, which is the first financial round,” says Farayde. “Following this, our plan is to begin production, and have our first sellable product on the market in the first half of 2023.
“What really sets us apart is the positive impact that our technology can have on food waste, which remains a global issue. Our solution not only addresses the whole scope of this problem, but can make a difference across the whole supply chain of fruits and vegetables.”