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Startup Innovation Challenge

Innovation spotlight: Europe [Interview]

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“Innovation requires going beyond boundaries to explore territories that you're not ready for, to look at technologies that you don't understand. To experiment beyond regulation. To explore needs and habits that you're not used to." - Kevin Camphuis, ShakeUpFactory
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Kevin Camphuis is co-founder of ShakeUpFactory, a business accelerator and a venture capital firm for tech-driven startups focused on food, beverage, hospitality and travel industries. Based in Station F in Paris, ShakeUpFactory leverages a community of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors to provide tailored support and advise to startups and entrepreneurs. Kevin Camphuis, who is also a jury member of our Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge, speaks to us about the state of food innovation in Europe.

What are some of the biggest challenges the food industry faces today?

“I would say there are so many, too many, in fact!  We are realising that, following COVID and now the Ukraine crisis, we have spent the past 50+ years perfecting our supply chains and optimizing them in such a way that there is ultra-specialization everywhere.  

“And those super-efficient supply chains that we've created, are in fact, super fragile. They cannot resist such crises and are not prepared for the climate crisis that we are just entering. And so, actors of the value chain, be they farmers or food brands, are just starting to understand that they will have to deeply reinvent what is needed to make the food value chain sustainable in the long term.”

Is enough innovation happening to make our food system truly sustainable and resilient?

“The food industry is just starting to experiment with what [innovation] means. Until now, I would say that we've done optimisation, the perfection of processes, super fine-tuning, and development. But it was not innovation. 

“Innovation requires going beyond boundaries to explore territories that you're not ready for, to look at technologies that you don't understand. To experiment beyond regulation. To explore needs and habits that you're not used to.

“This is why startups do succeed and this is also why startups are needed. A large majority of [startups] are about digital technologies or biotechnologies that the traditional food industry doesn't understand and cannot master by itself. So, it can only come from the outside.”

What specific hurdles are there for European startups? 

“Fragmentation is the first one. The second is regulation. Our regulation processes are not adapted to what we need to invent for the future. Our regulation was meant to secure - it is really useful, but we need to open the door to be able to test and go beyond the traditional borders and boundaries. 

“France initiated a startup transformation five years ago, and we see how beneficial it is to the economy, to the ways of working, and to simplifying processes, regulation and so on. And so, Europe needs to rejuvenate its way of doing business, to make it simpler and more open. We are still stuck not only with regulation, but also with the institution and layers that we have to simplify and lighten if we want to accelerate.”

What work does ShakeUpFactory do and how do you help startups? 

“We not only provide startups [...] with a very bespoke professional support and coaching, networking, and access to financing; we also provide the same kind of support to industry professionals.  

“We are an open innovation consultancy dedicated to breakthrough innovation on food from farm to fork. So, we have the chance to not only learn but design, test and scale what will be the future ingredients, solutions, services, processes, business models, that will make food more sustainable in the future. 

“And we have our third leg, which is being an ecosystem builder because the future of innovation is about ecosystems. This is why we partnered with the [Startup Innovation Challenge].  EIT food is another ecosystem we are very active in and it's the largest in EU for innovation. It helps us to be constantly connected to what’s happening and leveraging the synergies between all the actors.”

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