A meeting of the minds. This is how Louise O. Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research, characterises the final round of the European FoodNexus Startup Challenge. Wageningen University & Research kindly hosted the final event, last December 13. Talent, brains and the combination of cognitive and emotional power is the main resource, she says.

I think Louise Fresco is right. It takes knowledge and creativity to challenge existing models, especially if you know that these are not future proof. If we want to meet tomorrow’s global challenge of a sustainable food supply, the agriculture and food chain of today needs radical change and innovation.

Many of the 15 startups that pitched their ideas at the final of the European Startup Challenge, referred to this global challenge as their source of inspiration. This is what makes the connection between startups and corporates potentially so powerful.

We believe in building a community for innovation and connecting startups to corporates plays a key role. The bootcamps on Corporate-Startup-Engagement, being an integral part of the challenge, provided excellent dealmaking opportunities, and the pitches at the final round once more demonstrated what great minds can create.

Boreal Light is an excellent winner, providing water solutions to off-grid communities in regions where fresh water is scarce. This appeals to a basic human need and is of vital importance to local people. I am proud to have a winner like this!

We also take pride in Urban Crop Solutions as the winner of the Public Choice Award. Expanding the community around startups, corporates and research institutions is a good thing.

This year was the first edition of this challenge. We will surely continue bringing together this vibrant community. So, save the date: May 30 and 31 in Wageningen, the Netherlands. See you again at F&A Next!

Jan Meiling                   

Managing Director StartLife