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Winning start-up deploys fermentation and AI to turn Barilla by-products into food

3 min read

Spain is a sizzling hotbed of food tech and innovation. ICEX Spain Trade and Investment, an agency of the Spanish government that promotes Spanish companies abroad, arrived at the Sustainable Food Forum in a colourful mood. One of its sessions was an informal face-off between a collection of sustainable Spanish food and drink startups, who pitched their concepts in front of a crowd of SFF delegates who then voted for their favourites.

The winner was MOA

Food Matters Live: Congratulations, explain what MOA does?

MOA CEO Bosco Emparanza: We developed a platform that combines biotechnology and AI, that allows us to use by-products from the agri-food industry and transform them through fermentation into high value ingredients that we can introduce in the food chain in different applications, mainly in the plant-based sector.

FML: A tech-heavy approach to sustainable food. And you teamed up with Barilla?

BE: With Barilla we found a way to change the culture media we are using that increases productivity. We also realised a reduction in the cost of the culture media of over 70%. So by working with Barilla we are more cost efficient and more productive. 

FML: Do you have to pay for this raw material, even if it is a by-product?

BE: It varies. Yes, normally, but not always. We use some by-products that have no value, and with some we actually get paid to take them away.

FML: How did you get involved with ICEX? 

BE: In Spain we are really lucky to have ICEX because they really do support start-ups. They do this from a market perspective, from a fundraising perspective, and by creating this ecosystem where we can grow our connections. For example they have taken us here, next we are heading to the Netherlands, then to Singapore. They have created this connection between corporates and start-ups. They selected us to come here, and that’s how we ended up pitching.

FML: Why do you think you won?

BE: Maybe because of the enthusiasm I have for my project, or the technology that we are using. Fermentation and AI are probably the two most powerful technologies that we have today. These technologies are going to transform the food industry, and we are using them to build a sustainable fermentation industry. We really believe that is going to be a big pillar of the food industry in the future. And I think the audience and the jury felt the same.

FML: What do you see this doing for you in terms of opportunities?

BE: Things like being here today in the UK, in this conference and making connections, that’s always good. And we have made really good connections today, with other start-ups up to big corporates, increasing our ecosystem. So that, really, is the prize for me.


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