When the going gets tough, the tough collaborate!

Transforming the food system is a joint effort, where collaboration between diverse sciences, organizations and individuals is the secret sauce.

Providing nutritious and safe food sustainably for the growing global population amidst the climate change and biodiversity loss demands profound transformations in the current food system. On the bright side, solving this humongous “customer problem” for the humanity is a humongous opportunity for those who aren’t afraid to envision new futures, test new things, and learn from fast through experimentation. 

Arctic Farming is a vertical farming startup in this season’s Germinator programme to whom this applies. Combining their expertise in biology, space studies, engineering, product development and business, CEO Oliver Rotko, CSO Daniel Rotko, CTO Rodrigo Prieto Padilla and Head of Software Ignaty Romanov-Chernigovsky are developing novel vertical farming solutions for the HoReCa industry, with other segments in their horizon as well. Like their satisfied piloting partners say, Arctic Farming’s focus on user experience for the restaurant and hotel businesses makes them stand out from the other vertical farming companies. Alongside end product quality, their appliance’s modularity, eye pleasing product design and in-built automation all make a difference within their target market. One of the key ingredients in their case has been close collaboration with restaurants and pilot partners in food service.   

Collaboration across sciences is also at the very core of Binkiapp’s novel service solution. The startup was founded by geoinformation specialist, CEO Camila Gallo and microbiologist, CTO Gaëlle Thomas, whose expertise put together results into a new kinds of analysis service for farmers, predicting soil health and resilience in different weather events at various scales. To find the sweet spot for their service within farmers’ various needs, Binkiapp engages with multiple collaborators in the agricultural sector and farming communities. Acknowledging the premises within the agribusiness, Binkiapp’s solution based on a climate simulation chamber can produce more information with less costs in comparison to competitors. 

Hence, the world cannot be changed by any one party alone, but through collaboration between organizations and individuals able to seize emerging opportunities together. This thinking is propelling Arctic Farming and Binkiapp forward on their development paths, and the Germinator programme has aided both by introducing them to new partners and collaborators with specific relevance on their ways forward.  

For team Squee from the Natural Resources Institute Finland, another Germinator programme participant this season, relevant collaboration opportunities mean learning from established food grocery companies. Squee develops a patented alternative protein technology based on mycoprotein and food grade side streams. One of the major tasks of the team led by biological scientist Henri Vanhanen and including researchers Marta Cortina Escribano, Jarkko Hellström, Petri Kilpeläinen, and food tech expert Janne Saarikko is to test and develop potential applications for their new technology. 

This is where Germinator programme’s sponsor-mentors with their industry experience can be of great help. Lantmännen is a Germinator sponsor-mentor already a second time in a row.

"Viikki Food Design Factory is a very exciting collaboration partner for Lantmännen in many ways! We believe that many of the future breakthrough innovations will take place in interaction between the different players in the food ecosystem. Therefore, we want to foster connections between start-ups and our different functions, and to gain new insights, thinking and capabilities in the entire ecosystem. The Germinator programme provides just the perfect conditions for all of this!", says Nina Tuomikangas, Innovation Project Manager at Lantmännen.

Facilitating the identification and ignition of mutually beneficial collaboration is one of the core tasks of Viikki Food Design factory and its Germinator programmes. As the second season of the Germinator and the first pilot of the pre-Germinator programme for students are close to an end, a glance back reveals a great number of collaborative engagements within them. Altogether more than 100 organizations and experts in the ecosystem of the food system transformers have come together for enlightening, mentoring, sparring, piloting, and learning from each other during the last two years. A huge thanks for all for the fruitful collaboration! Let’s see what the next season has in store! 

But before that, come celebrate the culmination of this season’s Germinator programmes to the Demo Evening taking place at Viikki on the 29th of March. That is where and when the 11 teams of the programmes will get on stage to pitch, present prototypes and serve samples, and where you can have a glimpse of the sustainable food systems of the future!

Register to the Viikki Food Design Factory’s Demo Evening 2023 at the link below.