An emotional evening of future food systems solutions!

How do you make people believe in change? You show them – and even better, you give them a taste of it! That’s what the Demo Evening finishing off the season 2022-23 Germinator programmes at the Viikki Food Design Factory on Wednesday night was about.

The Demo Evening showcased 13 student and startup teams and their innovative solutions for more sustainable food systems. After eight months of hard work and learnings put to practice, both the teams and the Viikki Food Design Factory crew were proud to present the results to the audience of over a hundred people. This was the second season of the Germinator pre-incubation programme designed to support early phase innovator teams in commercializing their inventions. This season saw also the pilot of the Pre-Germinator programme for students at the University of Helsinki to develop an innovator mindset and put their ideas into practice in Viikki Food Design Factory’s demolab.

Besides pitching for a full house, the six student teams and seven startup teams presented their offerings, including samples of tasty food products, on their stands. The interested crowd consisted of the gradually growing community of people from researchers, students, company representatives, entrepreneurs and beyond. Among those celebrating the progress of the teams were of course this season’s sponsor-mentors, Raisio, Valio, Foodwest, Leipurin and Lantmännen, and all the partners and mentors of the season. 

To add to the excitement, the audience got to vote for their favourite of the teams’ solutions advancing food system transformation from both the Germinator and the Pre-Germinator programmes. The winning student solution was pitched by food science student Meri Jerkku from team Papunen, who are developing tasty meals for babies from fermented legumes. Off to a climate friendly start from the beginning!  

The winner of the Germinator category was Molt FoodTech, a newly formed startup bringing the delicious taste of molded cheeses to plan-based products using healthy and sustainable ingredients, pitched by Ossi Paloneva, chef and creative lead at Molt. Both winning teams were awarded with tickets and a spot at the limelight to pitch on stage at Sweden Foodtech’s Big Meet in Stockholm in the end of May.  

Laura Forsman, manager of Viikki Food Design Factory, and Reetta Kivelä, professor of practice, leading the programmes and coaching the teams, were thrilled – even moved – to see how far all the teams had come. It was time to thank not only the teams for their commitment, effort and great attitude, but also the sponsor-mentors, partners and collaborators who contributed to the success of the programmes.  

Thank you to the whole food system transformators’ community in Viikki and beyond!  

And PS: If you are interested, don’t forget to apply to season #3 of the Germinator programme